Almost Hits: Cream - Badge (1969)

"Badge" is one of Cream's most famous songs even though it never got higher than #60 on the Billboard Hot 100. All these years later it's still played on both classic rock and oldies radio stations. In Cream's homeland it climbed all the way to #18. 

The short single (2:35) appeared on the power trio's final LP, Goodbye, in 1969 and was written by Eric Clapton with one of his best buddies, George Harrison, partially as repayment for the blues-rocker's assistance on The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

"Badge" was originally untitled on the original sheet music. Harrison had written the word "bridge" indicating that is where the midsection of the song belonged. Looking at the sheet music upside down, Clapton misread it as "badge" because of Harrison's handwriting.

Here is how The former Beatle remembers it happening as quoted in Wikipedia. "I helped Eric write "Badge" you know. Each of them had to come up with a song for that Goodbye Cream album and Eric didn't have his written. We were working across from each other and I was writing the lyrics down and we came to the middle part so I wrote 'Bridge.' Eric read it upside down and cracked up laughing – 'What's BADGE?' he said. After that, Ringo walked in drunk and gave us that line about the swans living in the park."

The title, "Badge," does not appear anywhere in the song and the lyrics were written to deliberately make no sense. 

No other Cream song featured five musicians. Harrison played rhythm guitar and was credited as L'Angelo Misterioso on the album's liner notes due to contractual considerations. Producer Felix Pappalardi played piano and mellotron. Bassist Jack Bruce handled most of Cream's vocals but on this track Clapton was front and center and, as always, Ginger Baker played drums.  

Almost Hits is an occasional exploration into songs that failed to reach the top #20 on the American Billboard Hot 100. Many have become classics despite what their chart position would indicate.