A Whiter Shade Of Pale

The original (Procol Harum) and Halie Loren versions of “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. The song is the debut single by the English rock band Procol Harum, released 12 May 1967.

Halie Loren version. Loren (born July 3, 1984) is an American singer and songwriter.

And the original Procol Harum version – vocals and piano played by Gary Brooker, Matthew Fisher played the Hammond organ, and these original lyrics were written by Keith Reid.

With its Bach-derived instrumental melody, soulful vocals, and unusual lyrics, written by the song’s co-authors Gary Brooker, Keith Reid, and organist Matthew Fisher, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” reached No. 1 in several countries when released in 1967. In the years since, it has become an enduring classic. As of 2009, it was the most played song in the last 75 years in public places in the United Kingdom.

Lyrics

Reid got the title and starting point for the song at a party. He overheard someone at the party saying to a woman, “You’ve turned a whiter shade of pale,” and the phrase stuck in his mind. The original lyrics had four verses, of which only two are heard on the original recording. The third verse has been heard in live performances by Procol Harum, and more seldom also the fourth. Claes Johansen, the author of Procol Harum: beyond the pale, suggests that the song “deals in metaphorical form with a male/female relationship which after some negotiation ends in a sexual act.” This is supported by Tim de Lisle in Lives of the Great Songs, who remarks that the lyrics concern a drunken seduction, which is described through references to sex as a form of travel, usually nautical, using mythical and literary journeys. Other observers have also commented that the lyrics concern a sexual relationship.

We skipped the light fandango
turned cartwheels ‘cross the floor
I was feeling kinda’ seasick
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 a mirror told its 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
would not let her be
one of sixteen vestal virgins
who were leaving for the coast
and although my eyes were open
they might just as well’ve 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…

Sources