Flashback Track Friday #7

Today’s flashback track is both unusual and mysterious. The biggest hit of the British band Procol Harum, A Whiter Shade of Pale, is sometimes called the song that no one understands. Released in 1967, the track seems to be about a nervous drunken sailor wandering through his fragmented thoughts from childhood to his present attempt at seducing a woman. The song is unusual in that it also lacks a chorus to help anchor the lyrics.

Part of the mystery surrounding the song’s meaning is also due to the fact that half of the lyrics were removed right before the recording session. Originally, the song consisted of 4 stanzas, the second and third were deleted from the music recording, although they have been sung in live shows. I’ve posted the missing stanzas below as they add more depth to the overall story.

Another key element of the song is its allusion to Chaucer’s raciest Canterbury Tale, “The Miller’s Tale” where confusion between a woman, her husband and her two would-be lovers results in bottoms being mistaken for faces, and the husband stating, “My God, you’ve just turned a whiter shade of pale.” Could be worth a read in trying to make sense of this psychedelic track which starts with a killer intro partially borrowed from Bach’s Air from Suite 3.

Take a nostalgic listen to this enigmatic track, and if you feel like responding, consider writing your own piece that attempts to define a new shade of color.–Darker shade of pink, Lighter shade of green, Softer shade of orange, etc. Let your imagination construct this new shade alongside the shades of meaning behind it. Feel free to make as much or little sense as is pleasing. I’d love to hear comments about what you take away from this amazing track.

Rules to Participate:

  • Share a poem, flash fiction, song or work of art inspired by a new shade of color. Deeper, Lighter, Softer, etc.
  • Share your work on your blog, and be sure to ping back this post—anytime this week will be great.
  • Be sure to tag your work #FBTF or FBTF
  • You can also leave a link to your work in the comments below for all to enjoy.

    Happy Friday, Friends!

2nd/3rd Stanzas of Whiter Shade of Pale

he said, ‘I’m home on shore leave,’
though in truth we were at sea
so I took her by the looking glass
and forced her to agree
saying, ‘You must be the mermaid
who took Neptune for a ride.’
But she smiled at me so sadly
that my anger straightway died

If music be the food of love 
then laughter is its 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 


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