Friday, January 7, 2011

"We had an affair, and all I got was this lousy Badge"

Eric Clapton's second solo release, "461 Ocean Boulevard" is a deeply personal, and seminal album. He had just spent two years wooing George Harrison's wife, getting addicted to—and recovering from—heroin, and collaborating with the man whose wife he was about to "steal" (more on that momentarily).

I'm going to start this entry with a bit of music trivia about "461 Ocean Boulevard" that is wrong.

I was also guilty of carrying around this misinformation for years. It goes (falsely) like this: "Did you know that '461 Ocean Boulevard' is actually the house that George Harrison and wife Pattie Boyd lived in before Eric Clapton  married Pattie—and moved in—asking George to move out?"

Like I said, completely untrue. '461 Ocean Boulevard' was, in fact, the address of a house in Miami that Clapton was renting while recording that album... but enough about the address. The real bit of trivia on this album comes from a track called, "Badge" (which was a song originally released by Cream, and later included on the remastered version of "...Ocean Blvd").

I'm pretty sure you've heard it before:
 
Okay... So now we know how the *album* got its name, but how did the track "Badge" get it's name?

First off, it was a collaboration between Clapton and Harrison. Clapton started the process by writing what eventually became the verses and the chorus, but when he had a block, he sent what he had to Harrison to finish.

Harrison added a new musical part to the song, as well as some words. The rhythm and chord changes that George contributed varied slightly from what Clapton had, so in the notebook above the lyrics, Harrison had scribbled the word, "bridge." Then he sent his ideas back to Eric.

Eric loved the new section. And he thought that George had even named the song when he misread "bridge" as "badge."

"Badge" has nothing to do with the lyrical story of the song.

Real quick, before I sign off, for those of you unfamiliar with the George Harrison, Pattie Boyd, Eric Clapton love triangle, this is how it went down: George and Pattie had been married for six years. Their marriage was falling to shit as George got more involved in eastern religion and meditation. Clapton started 'wooing' Pattie. For nearly 3 years, Pattie ignored his advances. Over those three years, George had affairs with other women, including Ronnie Wood's wife (of the Rolling Stones) and even Ringo's then wife, Maureen.
Here's a great article straight from Pattie: http://tinyurl.com/7q9bwr

I had always assumed that Clapton was the "dick" in the equation for stealing George's girl, although, he wasn't completely innocent... For instance, when Pattie first denied his advances, he told her he was going to start taking heroin (and did, and got hooked, making her feel guilty). And, he ended up sleeping with Pattie's little sister for years (and getting her hooked on heroin, too).

Okay... Maybe Clapton was a dick about it. Both he and Harrison seemed like they had some growing up to do... but then again, both of them weren't even 30 when this was going down.

Oh well. It's only rock and roll.

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