How is it possible for a song to terrify you?  There is something unnerving, ethereal and uncanny about Cream’s masterpiece — White Room — that still chills me over 40 years after its creation.


Here’s a taste of Cream’s version of “White Room” from their 1968 farewell concert.

Does White Room scare you, too?

I don’t know if it’s the imagery, or the drug influence, or the tonal dissonance — but there is an irresistible sickly feeling White Room brings into my core — and, yet, I cannot get enough of the song.

Why are we attracted to things that make us sick?

Here’s Eric Clapton’s version of White Room twenty years later in 1988:

Still haunting.

Still chilling.

Is there a song that scares you in your core?  If so, what is it, and in what way does that song terrify you?

4 Comments

  1. There are definitely songs that inspire that level of emotion for me, though ‘White Room’ isn’t one of them. The song that really scares me is the circus music (link below). I don’t understand why- I’m not afraid of clowns or tigers or any other circus trappings, and have truly enjoyed the circus the few times I’ve been. I wonder why people sometimes have such idiosyncratic responses to certain songs?

  2. liminal —
    I think it’s the White Room lyric that frightens me. The music is so incredibly raw and jarring while the lyric is set, stilted and wholly obtuse. The song thunders on while you’re lost in trying to figure out the rhyme scheme and how the starlings fit in with yellow tigers.
    Now your circus music is fascinating. I loved that link! I even danced a little like a bear balancing a ball on my nose. What happens when you hear that common circus music? Do you run or turn it off? Does a calliope have the same effect on you when played alone?