Procol Harum – Conquistador

Procol Harum wrote and performed one of my favorite songs of all time…A Whiter Shade of Pale. The band formed in 1967 partly out of a band called The Paramounts.

Conquistador was on their self titled debut album. It was released as a single in 1967 but the studio version was not a hit.

This became a hit when Procol Harum recorded it live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra on November 18, 1971. It was released in 1972 on the aptly titled album Procol Harum Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.

The song peaked at#16 in the Billboard 100 and #7 in Canada in 1972.

Conquistador – a conqueror, especially one of the Spanish conquerors of Mexico and Peru in the 16th century.

Gary Brooker: “I would say something off of the Edmonton Symphony Live album. I don’t mind which one, really. But it always gives one a great deal of pleasure if you know that when you sing live, that you sing as well or better than you did in the studio. And, of course, when you get excited, when you’re playing on stage, a bit more adrenaline, it always fits well in with the feeling. When we played in Edmonton with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra that first time, it was a very inspiring evening, and there was a lot of good music going on from everybody, and the vocals had to get over it all.” 

From Songfacts

Procol Harum’s lyricist Keith Reid told us the story behind this song: “Gary Brooker and I, before we formed Procol Harum, when we were just working together as songwriters and getting into it, we had this regular deal where he lived about 40 miles from London near the ocean, and I’d jump on a train once a week and go visit him. He’d have a bunch of my lyrics and he’d play me whatever he had been working on. This particular time, though, I’d got down there and he’d been working on a tune. He said, ‘What does this sound like to you?’ And I said, ‘Oh, conquistador.’ It had a little bit of a Spanish flavor to it. I went into another room and started writing the words there and then. 99 out of 100 of those Procol Harum songs were written the words first, and then were set to music. But that particular one, the words hadn’t existed before he had the musical idea.”

Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers who set out to conquer the Americas after their discovery by Christopher Columbus in 1492.

Conquistador

Conquistador your stallion stands in need of company
And like some angel’s haloed brow
You reek of purity

I see your armor plated breast
Has long since lost its sheen
And in your death masked face
There are no signs which can be seen

And though I hoped for something to find
I could see no maze to unwind

Conquistador a vulture sits, upon your silver sheath
And in your rusty scabbard now, the sand has taken seed
And though your jewel-encrusted blade
Has not been plundered still
The sea has washed across your face
And taken of its fill

And though I hoped for something to find
I could see no maze to unwind
And though I hoped for something to find
I could see no maze to unwind

Conquistador there is no time, I must pay my respect
And though I came to jeer at you
I leave now with regret
And as the gloom begins to fall
I see there is no, only all
And though you came with sword held high
You did not conquer, only die

And though I hoped for something to find
I could see no maze to unwind
And though I hoped for something to find
I could see no maze to unwind

And though I hoped for something to find
I could see no maze to unwind