Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale

A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum was released in 1967. It went to #1 in the UK and #5 in the US. It sold over 10 million copies. It is a great song and it perfectly captured its time. John Lennon was a huge fan of the song and would play it repeatedly in his psychedelic Rolls Royce.

It was re-released in 1972 and went to #13 in the UK charts.

It is one of those songs like Itchycoo Park that automatically transports me to the sixties… I never get tired of listening to this…

The Illinois Crime Commission included the song in a list of ‘drug-oriented records’ along with “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane and The Beatles “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.” When any ban would happen the records would fly off the shelves.

This is from songfacts.com

In 2004, the UK performing rights group Phonographic Performance Limited named this the most-played record on British TV and radio of the past 70 years. In 2009 it was announced that this song is still Britain’s most played record. The runner-up in the list was Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The two songs share one unusual similarity-on both of them the word “fandango” crops up in the lyrics.

Gary Brooker and Keith Reid were credited with writing the song but Matthew Fisher the former keyboard player in the band sued for partial writing credit and won. Now the song’s writing credit is Reid-Brooker-Fisher. Gary Brooker and Fisher wrote the music and Reid wrote the lyrics. This is from an interview with Keith Reid.

 “I was trying to conjure a mood as much as tell a straightforward, girl-leaves-boy story. With the ceiling flying away and room humming harder, I wanted to paint an image of a scene. I wasn’t trying to be mysterious with those images, I was trying to be evocative. I suppose it seems like a decadent scene I’m describing. But I was too young to have experienced any decadence, then. I might have been smoking when I conceived it, but not when I wrote. It was influenced by books, not drugs.”

 

 

A Whiter Shade of Pale

We skipped the light fandango
Turned cartwheels ‘cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
But the crowd called out for more
The room was humming harder
As the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
And the waiter brought a tray

And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale

She said, “There is no reason
And the truth is plain to see. “
But I wandered through my playing cards
And they would not let her be
One of sixteen vestal virgins
Who were leaving for the coast
And although my eyes were open wide
They might have just as well been closed

And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale

She said, “I’m here on a shore leave,”
Though we were miles at sea.
I pointed out this detail
And forced her to agree,
Saying, “You must be the mermaid
Who took King Neptune for a ride. “
And she smiled at me so sweetly
That my anger straightway died.

And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale

If music be the food of love
Then laughter is it’s queen
And likewise if behind is in front
Then dirt in truth is clean
My mouth by then like cardboard
Seemed to slip straight through my head
So we crash-dived straightway quickly
And attacked the ocean bed

And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

11 thoughts on “Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale”

    1. I never get tired of it. Some songs I can barely listen to because I’ve heard them over and over but this one is just fresh every time.

      You know that is human nature…tell us we shouldn’t listen to it and we will. The BBC banned “A Day In The Life” and of course that made people want it more.

      Like

      1. Yes, the ‘authorities’ were slow to learn that cause and effect. ‘Nixon’s enemies list’ was another example. Brewer and Shipley made that list with ‘One Toke Over the Line’, and say they still consider that a badge of honor.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I worked a few gigs as stage security back in the seventies. Tried to throw these guys off the stage one time, because they didn’t have passes. They straightened me out pretty quick. I’ve never listened to ‘Conquistador’ in quite the same way.

    Liked by 1 person

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