The Misplaced Lyrics of Procol Harum "A Whiter Shade of Pale"

In 1967, British group Procol Harum launched one of many few singles to promote 10 million copies worldwide: “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” The members that recorded the tune have been Gary Brooker (vocals and piano), Matthew Fisher (Hammond M-102 organ), bassist David Knights, Ray Royer on guitar and session drummer Invoice Eyden (later changed by Bobby Harrison).

Even the group’s most devoted followers might not know that Procol Harum had an necessary “sixth member”: lyricist Keith Reid, whose tune title has confounded followers. Reid says “A Whiter Shade of Pale” was a remark he’d overheard at a celebration; that unique thought impressed the mysterious lyrics that adopted. The problem for the musicians was to ship a music monitor with the identical gravity.

Pianist Gary Brooker got here up with the chord sequence that was a nod to Bach’s “Air on the G String.” Matthew Fisher’s melancholy organ sample adopted alongside, then morphed into Bach’s “Sleepers, Wake!” Just like the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” and the Left Banke’s “Stroll Away Renee,” “A Whiter Shade of Pale” was characterised as “baroque rock” due to its classical influences.

As advanced because the monitor sounds, it was recorded dwell in two takes at Olympic Studios in London. Brooker has referred to as the consequence a cheerful accident, unlikely to be repeated. Producer Denny Cordell hoped to offer “A Whiter Shade of Pale” the flavour of American soul music; Cordell says the searing vocals and solemn organ of Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Girl” have been the catalyst for Procol Harum’s sound.

There has lengthy been confusion concerning the that means of “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” The consensus is that, like most songs, it’s a few man and a lady trying to get collectively. The tune’s nautical references give a way that the couple is on board a ship. The confusion could also be on account of the truth that half of the unique lyrics have been tossed out earlier than the tune was recorded.

When first written, the tune had 4 verses. When it got here time to document the monitor, the second and third verses have been dropped, leaving what have been initially the primary and final verses. The tune’s that means turns into clearer once you embrace the missing verseswhich have been carried out dwell by the group. The deserted lyrics, as enigmatic as these on the ultimate recording, verify that the setting is, in actual fact, the ocean; the singer tells his love, “You have to be the mermaid / Who took Neptune for a experience.”

Those that discover Keith Reid’s lyrics onerous to decipher should not alone. Matthew Fisher has stated that even he cannot perceive Reid’s puzzling lyrics, nevertheless it’s by no means bothered him as a result of “they sound nice… that is all they should do.”

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