Tales of Brave Ulysses

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"Tales of Brave Ulysses"
Cream tales ulysses 1967.jpg
Norway single picture sleeve
Single by Cream
A-side "Strange Brew"
Released May 1967 (1967-05)
Format 7-inch 45 rpm
Recorded Atlantic Studios, New York City, May 1967
Genre Psychedelic rock[1]
Length 2:46
Label Atco
Writer(s) Eric Clapton, Martin Sharp
Producer(s) Felix Pappalardi
ISWC T-060.257.321-6
American singles chronology
"I Feel Free"
"Tales of Brave Ulysses"
Music sample

"Tales of Brave Ulysses" is a song recorded in 1967 by British group Cream.


The song was the first collaboration between guitarist Eric Clapton and artist Martin Sharp. Clapton composed the music, which was inspired by the Lovin' Spoonful's 1966 hit "Summer in the City". Sharp had originally written a poem which evolved into the song's lyrics after meeting Clapton.

The song was released as the B-side to the "Strange Brew" single in June 1967, several months ahead of the group's second album, Disraeli Gears, which also included both songs. AllMusic critic Matthew Greenwald calls it "One of a few overtly psychedelic songs to have aged gracefully ... Lyrically, it's a relatively factual and colorful rendering of the great Greek tragedy Ulysses".[1]

In his 2007 autobiography, Clapton recalls writing "Tales of Brave Ulysses":

When [first meeting Sharp] he heard that I was a musician, he told me he had written a poem that he thought would make good lyrics for a song. As it happens, I had in my mind at that moment an idea inspired by a favorite [sic] song of mine by the Lovin' Spoonful called "Summer in the City," so I asked him to show me the words. He wrote them down on a napkin and gave them to me ... These became the lyrics of the song "Tales of Brave Ulysses".[3]

The song uses a "C/B flat/F chord pattern", which Greenwald describes as "simple but effective".[1] Jack Bruce, on bass, also provides the vocal, and Ginger Baker is on drums.

Cream recorded the song at Atlantic Studios in New York City in May 1967, during the sessions for Disraeli Gears.[3] Atlantic brought in engineer Tom Dowd and producer Felix Pappalardi to work with Cream on their next album. For the recording, Clapton used a wah-wah pedal guitar effects unit for the first time.

UK 45 single release on Reaction.

Cream performed the song in concert and a 10 March 1968 recording from Winterland in San Francisco is included on Live Cream Volume II.[1] In May 1968, the group were filmed performing it for the The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour television programme.[4] "Tales of Brave Ulysses" was later overshadowed by "White Room", which utilised the chord progression and wah-wah to create one of Cream's biggest hits.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Greenwald, Matthew. "Cream: Tales of Brave Ulysses – Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Welch, Chris (2011). Clapton. Voyageur Press. eBook. ISBN 978-1610597715. 
  3. ^ a b Clapton, Eric (2007). Clapton: The Autobiography. New York City: Broadway Books. pp. 85–86. ISBN 978-0-7679-2536-5. 
  4. ^ Schumacher, Michael (1993). Crossroads: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton. New York City: Crown Trade Paperbacks. p. 107. ISBN 0-517-88118-7. 


  • Clapton, Eric (2007). Clapton: The Autobiography. New York, United States: Broadway Books. pp. g. 74. ISBN 978-0-385-51851-2.
  • Hjort, Christopher (2007). Strange Brew: Eric Clapton & the British Blues Boom, 1965–1970. London, UK: Jawbone Press. pp. g. 29. ISBN 978-1-906002-00-8.
  • Ertegün, Ahmet (2006). Classic Albums: Cream – Disraeli Gears (DVD). Eagle Rock Entertainment.

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