Procol Harum – Whiskey Train

I was lucky to see Robin Trower in Clarksville Tennessee in the early nineties. In a three week span I went to three concerts…Santana, Eric Clapton, and I wrapped it up Robin Trower in a club called the Cannery…three really good guitar players in that three week span.

This song was released in 1970 and the opposite of their best-known hit “A Whiter Shade Of Pale.” The band had some personnel changes by this time. This wasn’t a big hit or a hit at all but I’ve always loved it as a rock and roll song. The riff is a classic guitar riff.

The song was on the album Home released in 1970. The album peaked at #34 in the Billboard Album Charts and #49 in the UK.

Whiskey Train was written by guitarist Robin Trower and Keith Reid. Great rock and roll song. Leslie West and Blackfoot also covered this song but I’ll stick with the original.

Whiskey Train

Ain’t gonna ride that whisky train
Ain’t gonna burn up no more flame
Throw away my bottle down the drain
Ain’t gonna ride that whisky train
To think that I could be so wrong
To be so sick and still go on
The way I drink it’s been too long
Don’t see much point in carrying on
I’m gonna lose these drinking blues
I’m gonna find a girl to make me choose
Between lovin’ her and drinking booze
I’m gonna lose these drinking blues
Ain’t gonna ride that whisky train
I’m tired of burning in the flame
Throw away my bottle down the drain
Ain’t gonna ride that whisky train

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

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