“Black Butter, Present”

“Black Butter, Present” is the second in a trilogy of songs that closes Strawberry Alarm Clock‘s 1968 LP Wake Up… It’s Tomorrow.

Self-consciously psychedelic, with a prominent sitar, backwards-echo (a technique of recording something and applying echo to it as the tape runs backwards, so when listened to forward, the echo fades in, before a sound, rather than fading out after it — very disorienting), and loopy singing, “Black Butter, Present” is shorter than “Black Butter, Past” but concerns itself lyrically with some of the same things. Here, though, the desecrated object is being smashed much more violently and repeatedly, before ending again with:

“If it dies you’ll hear the cries and know the meaning of
Black butter”

If the ‘meaning of black butter’ isn’t really any clearer after this piece in the trilogy, at least the nihilism and viciousness of the otherwise meditative track’s vocals — “Break it! / Smash it! / Destroy it! / Ah, destroy…” — are compelling enough to hold attention, and certainly within the spirit of the album’s multiplicitous psychology. “Black Butter, Present” sets the scene for, unsurprisingly, “Black Butter, Future”.

Appears on

LP: Wake Up… It’s Tomorrow (1968)
LP: Changes (1971 compilation)
LP: Strawberries Mean Love (1987 compilation) – “Past” and “Future” don’t appear on this album; this is the only place the trilogy is broken up
CD: The Strawberry Alarm Clock Anthology (1993 compilation)

6 thoughts on ““Black Butter, Present”

  1. Curious sac song,unusual playing strangely only having an average effect on the listener,but extremely memorable. A commendable effort.

  2. Joey I think he means George Bunnell, the SAC bassist. He often posts to this and other SAC sites; very generous with his time for the fans 😀

  3. I asked George what the meaning of Black Butter was and he said “It was when Ed and Lee came home from a tour and there was nothing in the frdge, except Black Butter.”

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