White Room – Rolling Stone Song Meaning

After the release of the album Wheels of Fire by the rock band Cream, Rolling Stone magazine published a devastating review of the song White Room. The article said that the musicians copied the guitar, bass and drum parts from their track Tales of Brave Ulysses, released a year earlier. And almost forty years later, the same publication included it in the list of the five hundred greatest songs of all time.

The famous composition will be discussed later.

The history of creation and the meaning of the White Room

The song was composed by Jack Bruce. He was inspired by a bike ride in France. The lyrics were written by poet Pete Brown.

Pete recalled how the White Room was born:

The music was written first. I made one attempt with lyrics that had nothing to do with the final version of the song. It was called Cinderella’s Last Goodnight. It was about some doomed hippie girl. Jack didn’t like her, which was fair enough.

Then I found this eight-page poem I wrote earlier, which was about a white room and various things in it. I remade it into lyrics that matched the atmosphere and meter of the song.

In various interviews, Pete Brown explained what the White Room is about:

It was my white-painted room where I had drug abuse that made me quit.

Rolling stone

It was an unattached thing about the relationships I was in and how I felt at the time. It was truly a turning point. That was before I quit my job as a bartender and became a songwriter, so you know, I was a professional songwriter. I hosted poetry readings and made a living from it. The pay wasn’t very good, and then Ginger and Jack invited me to work with them, and we started making money from it.

And during that transitional time, I really lived in a white room and tried to work out the different things that were happening to me. That’s when I stopped. In 1967 I quit all drugs and alcohol as a result of being in the white room, so that was a turning point.

This song is like a weird little movie: it keeps changing angles. Perhaps that is why it lasts so long – there is some kind of mystery in it.


In the same interview with SongFacts, Pete Brown explained the meaning of some of the lyrics in White Room. Read the full text and translation below.

Recording and release of White Room

Cream began studio work on the song in July 1967 in London. In December, they continued at New York’s Atlantic Studios. They also met there several more times during 1968.

The composition was included in the album Wheels of Fire (1968) by the rock band Cream. It was released as a single that topped the Australian charts, climbed to number two on the Canadian charts, and peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100.


In September 1969, the song was once again released as a single. It was a shortened version of the track intended for AM radio stations.

White Room is one of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

White Room

Check out the 1968 music video from Cream’s farewell concert.

We’ll also listen to the White Room version by Eric Clapton and friends.

Cover versions

Over the years, White Room has been played and recorded by dozens of famous musicians, including the Flower Travellin’ Band, Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band, The Stranglers and Lana Lane.

Next is Helloween’s White Room version.

Interesting Facts

  • Eric Clapton got the idea to use wah-wah from Jimi Hendrix. Later, his part will take the second place in the ranking of the greatest wah-wah solos (Guitar World). In the first place will be Voodoo Child (Slight Return).
  • On their last tour, Cream opened most of their shows with “White Room”. On the 2005 tour following the band’s reunion, the musicians usually played it towards the end.
  • After Cream broke up, Eric Clapton refused to perform White Room until 1985. He was persuaded to play the song on Late Night with David Letterman.
  • In 2000, Apple Computer used the White Room in an ad for white iMac computers.

White Room Lyrics

In the white room with black curtains near the station
Blackroof country, no gold pavements, tired starlings
Silver horses ran down moonbeams in your dark eyes
Dawnlight smiles on you leaving, my contentment

I’ll wait in this place where the sun never shines
Wait in this place where the shadows run from themselves

You said no strings could secure you at the station
Platform tickets, restless diesels, goodbye windows
I walked into such a sad time at the station
As I walked out, felt my own need just beginning

I’ll wait in the queue when the trains come back
Lie with you where the shadows run from themselves

At the party she was kindness in the hard crowd
Consolidation for the old wound now forgotten
Yellow tigers crouched in jungles in her dark eyes
She’s just dressing, goodbye windows, tired starlings

I’ll sleep in this place with the lonely crowd;
Lie in the dark where the shadows run from themselves

White Room Lyrics

In a white room with black curtains near the station.
Black roofs everywhere, no golden sidewalks, exhausted starlings.
The silver horses stopped as streaks of moonlight in your dark eyes.
You leave under the smiles of dawn, I am satisfied.

I’ll wait here where the sun never shines
Wait here where the shadows run away from themselves.

You said no ropes could hold you at the station.
Apron tickets, restless diesel engines, farewell through the windows.
At the station I entered a sad time,
And when I left, I felt that my troubles were just beginning.

I’ll wait in line when the trains come back
I will lie with you where the shadows run away from themselves.

At the party she was all kindness in a heartless crowd
A comfort to an old wound now forgotten.
Yellow tigers lurk in the jungle of her dark eyes.
She’s just getting dressed, farewell through the windows, exhausted starlings.

I will fall here with the lonely crowd
I’ll lie in the dark where the shadows run away from themselves.


  • Memoirs of Pete Brown about the area in which he lived. Locomotives passed by the houses. The smoke from their chimneys settled like black soot on the roofs.
  • Birds suffering from London’s pollution. Also, according to the author, this is a metaphor for women who have to endure a lot in life.


Quotes about the song White Room

It’s a miracle that it turned out, given that I wrote a monologue about the new apartment.

Pete Brown, Clapton: Edge of Darkness, Christopher Sandford

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