Procol Harum


“A Whiter Shade of Pale” is the debut song by the British band Procol Harum, released 12 May 1967. The single reached number one in the UK Singles Chart[1] on 8 June 1967, and stayed there for six weeks. Without much promotion, it reached #5 on the US charts, as well. It is one of the fewer than 30 all-time singles to have sold 10 million (or more) copies worldwide.

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
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 would not let her be
one of sixteen vestal virgins
who were leaving for the coast
and although my eyes were open
they might have just as well’ve been closed

With its haunting Bach-flavoured instrumental melody, soulful vocals, and unusual lyrics—by the song’s co-authors Gary Brooker, Keith Reid,[2] and Matthew Fisher– “A Whiter Shade of Pale” reached #1 in several countries when released in 1967.

Procol Harum’s lyricist Keith Reid wrote the words to this song. He told us: “It’s sort of a film, really, trying to conjure up mood and tell a story. It’s about a relationship. There’s characters and there’s a location, and there’s a journey. You get the sound of the room and the feel of the room and the smell of the room. But certainly there’s a journey going on, it’s not a collection of lines just stuck together. It’s got a thread running through it.” Reid got the idea for the title when it came to him at a party, Paul McCartney said in an interview that this song was playing when he met Linda Eastman at the Bag O’ Nails club in London and always thought of it as “their song”. I love the video of ’60s London. Beautiful, one of my favorite songs of all time. – Paula, Charleston, SC


Keith Reid wrote the lyrics to “A Whiter Shade Of Pale,” which is the most-played song in England fo the last 75 years, according to a survey by BBC Radio 2. He formed Procul Harum with Gary Brooker in 1967, but Keith doesn’t play an instrument or sing – he writes lyrics.

“I used to go and see a lot of French films in the Academy in Oxford Street (London). Pierrot Le Fou made a strong impression on me, and Last Year In Marienbad. I was also very taken with surrealism, Magritte and Dali. You can draw a line between the narrative fractures and mood of those French films and ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale.’

SF: Was “Whiter Shade of Pale” the first song you wrote?
Keith: No. It was amongst the first twelve or fifteen songs. The songs on the first Procol Harum album, they also came from that first period of writing.

SF: Did you know “Whiter Shade of Pale” was going to be the one?
Keith: No. We were really excited about it and liked it a lot. And when we were rehearsing and routine-ing our first dozen songs or so, it was one that sounded really good. But there were a few others that we liked I would say equally – we have a song on our first album called “Salad Days (Are Here Again)” that was a strong contender. At our first session, we cut four tracks, and “Whiter Shade of Pale” was the one that recorded best. In those days it wasn’t just a question of how good is your song? It was how good of a recording can you make? Because it was essentially live recording, and if you didn’t have a great sound engineer or the studio wasn’t so good, you might not get a very good-sounding record. And for some reason everything at our first studio session came out sounding really good.

http://www.songfacts.com/blog/interviews/keith_reid_of_procul_harum/

Annie Lennox Cover

 

John Lennon was obsessed with this song and played it repeatedly for weeks after its release. Quite a compliment I’d say.
– john, Grand Island, NY

Paul McCartney said in an interview that this song was playing when he met Linda Eastman at the Bag O’ Nails club in London and always thought of it as “their song”. I love the video of ’60s London. Beautiful, one of my favorite songs of all time.

 

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One Response to “Procol Harum”

  1. […] Procol Harum (allsongsandlyrics.wordpress.com) […]

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