Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cream -- "We're Going Wrong" (1967)

Please open your eyes
Try to realize
I found out today we're going wrong
"We're Going Wrong" is a stunning song -- absolutely chilling.

It doesn't sound like any other song I've ever heard.  That's mostly due to the unique and unearthly quality of Jack Bruce's singing and the drumming of Ginger Baker, who used timpani sticks (which have heads wrapped in felt or chamois) instead of traditional drum sticks.  The 6/8 time signature is somewhat unusual as well.

Clapton, Baker, Bruce
There's not a lot in the way of lyrics here -- two very short verses, and "We're going wrong" repeated over and over.  I don't think there's any great mystery as to what the song is about -- it seems to be about a love affair that has gone so wrong that it probably can't be resuscitated.

But given the way that Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce came to absolutely loathe each other -- their bitter arguing during a car ride in early 1968 reduced Eric Clapton to tears -- one is tempted to see the song as describing their venomous relationship.

Cream formed in July 1966 and broke up in November 1968, the victim not only of Bruce's and Baker's mutual antipathy, but also of Clapton's dissatisfaction with the musical direction Cream had taken.  The group got its start as a blues trio -- half the songs on its first album were covers of blues standards -- but is remembered now for psychedelic songs like "White Room," "Tales of Brave Ulysses," and "SWLABR."

"We're Going Wrong" appeared on Cream's second album, Disraeli Gears, which was recorded in New York City in May 1967 and released that November.  The album was produced by Felix Pappalardi, who was almost a fourth Cream member.  He not only produced Disraeli Gears, but also co-wrote (along with his wife) two of its songs. 

Pappalardi was also the bass player for Mountain, best known for its classic single, "Mississippi Queen," which also was produced by Pappalardi.  He retired from performing because he had suffered significant hearing loss while touring with Mountain.  

Felix Pappalardi and his wife
Pappalardi's wife shot and killed him in 1983 in their Manhattan apartment.  She claimed it was an accident, but was convicted of negligent homicide and served about 18 months in prison.  (In other words, she basically got away with murder.)

Here's "We're Going Wrong."  I'll be surprised if you can listen to it with experiencing cutis anserina:

Here's a link you can use to buy the song from Amazon:

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