Why I thought Beatles song was about Ginger Baker

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

The South Mississippi rube that I am, I’ve always thought the Beatles song “Savoy Truffle” was about Cream drummer Ginger Baker.

“Savoy Truffle” is a George Harrison song on “The White Album,” which came out in 1968, and I got the Beatles record shortly after it was released. Sometime later, I also got an 8-track of “The White Album” and I would play it in my car.

I tried to find the original Beatles song on YouTube, but instead I came up with a nice consolation prize: Dhani Harrison, George’s son, doing a cover version.

“Savoy Truffle” is one of my favorite songs on “The White Album,” and when I was younger, I was obsessed about it. I was addicted to the sound, the lyrics and George’s singing. I would listen to the song over and over again on my record player in my bedroom and on my 8-track player when I was driving to Edgewater Mall in Biloxi.

I thought the lyrics gave clues the song was about Ginger Baker.

Creme tangerine and montelimar
A ginger sling with a pineapple heart
A coffee dessert, yes you know it’s good news
But you’ll have to have them all pulled out
After the Savoy truffle

Cool cherry cream, a nice apple tart
I feel your taste all the time we’re apart
Coconut fudge, really blows down those blues
But you’ll have to have them all pulled out
After the Savoy truffle

You might not feel it now
But when the pain cuts through
You’re going to know, and how
The sweat is going to fill your head
When it becomes too much
You shout aloud

I thought the words “Savoy truffle” were British slang for the way Ginger Baker played blues shuffle beats on his drum set.

I thought “creme tangerine” was a George Harrison reference to Baker, Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, the rock stars in Cream, the short-lived super power trio.

I thought for sure I heard “Ginger slings with a pineapple heart,” believing pineapple heart was some kind of narcotic Baker enjoyed using while playing for Cream.

And I thought “the sweat is going to fill your head” was about withdrawal from pineapple hearts.

I’ve had these thoughts since I was 16 years old. They have entertained me for 49 years.

Then last week I got the extended 2017 edition of the 1980 George Harrison book “I, Me, Mine” and it it he explains what “Savoy Truffle” is all about.

Harrison writes that the song is about Eric Clapton’s addiction to chocolate candy at the time and the cavities the guitar god got from eating too much.

“He was over at my house and I had a box of Good News chocolates on the table and wrote the song from the names inside the lid,” Harrison says.

The box included “Ginger Sling with a Pineapple Heart.”

No matter the story, Ginger Baker slings with a pineapple heart.

Editor’s note: A photo of a Good News candy box is in Harrison’s book “I, Me, Mine.” For this post, I cropped the photo and made it the featured image.

 

 

 

 

 

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