"A Whiter Shade of Pale" - please explain!!

The “oldies” station I listen to insists on playing Procul Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” at some point during my drive home from work every single day. After repeated (!!)hearings, I still don’t have a clue what it’s “about.”

Is it one of those 60’s songs written under the influence of drugs that doesn’t make sense unless you’re high? Does it have some hidden meaning related to current events of the time? It’s a catchy tune, and I find myself singing along, but I’d like to know what the heck I’m singing about!!

Perhaps this is the place to start?

I think it’s about getting sea sick.

Anyone want to talk about the video that turns up on VH1 Classics from time to time? You think the song is confusing, tack the video on top of it and see what you get!

Like a lot of songs in that era, it is hard to explain without the benefit of psychotropic drugs.

Maybe he ate too much of that cake that was left out in the rain.

If you go to the above-mentioned link, a few references are made to “The Miller’s Tale”, one of “The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer. Still, I never could figure out what it had to do with “Whiter Shade Of Pale”.

&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Somewhat off-topic

&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp sometimes things can be over-analyzed. Example - remember the show “the Prisoner” with Patrick McGoohan - you are Number 6 ? Just about everyone agrees the character is John Drake though the name is never mentioned. (Some have argued that it is mentioned but this is debatable).

&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Anyway, people have said that this was the final stage of the John Drake character. First there was “Danger Man”, then “Secret Agent”, then “the Prisoner” where we see McGoohan angrily resigning. (Neither his character name, his job, nor his reason for resigning is mentioned). The previous show “Secret Agent” had a theme song that said “they’ve given you a number and taken away your name.” So, by referring to that song, the John Drake character has a number (6 to be precise) and no name. People have stated that this shows the dehumanization that society increasingly imposes on us, etc.

&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp In reality, the company that owned the rights to the John Drake character (ITC) wanted too much money from McGoohan to bring that character into a 3rd show. So, McGoohan never mentioned the character’s name and avoided paying those fees (knowing darned well that 99% of the people would know it was John Drake anyway).

&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp A long way to go to make a point but I thought this was worth mentioning.

But only a kind of seasick.

The Miller’s Tale was about a lothario getting a reeve’s daughter under the reeve’s nose (which The Reeve responded by bragging about him and his other fellows others doing all of the Miller’s women in his family). The vestial turned pale from hearing the lurid details of the story, as an indication both that she was so sheltered, and the guy would be so loutish as to talk about it.

The Procol Harum song, as performed, was missing one verse, and the page cited did as well. Quite an eerie one as I recall, in which the narrator seemed to force the vestial to look at herself in the ‘looking glass’, trying to make her feel guilty of staying with him if she knew he was a drunk. Yes, that missing verse goes a long way toward learning about what the guy was doing:

The guy was talking about a drunkard wooing a girl into having sex. She (the vestial virgin) would have none of it (the sex I mean), especially from a lout like him.

Whoa!! There were two verses missing from the song performance. That last one seemed to change everything.

Nothing. I’m sorry I don’t have a cite, but I once read an interview with the lyricist (Keith Reed?) where he said that people always think the line is a reference to The Canterbury Tales, but that he never read The Canterbury Tales and can’t remember what he had in mind when he penned the words “as the miller told his tale”.

Maybe the song is trying to make you feel something instead of making you think something.

Sorry, I just flashed on “vestigial virgins” (as opposed to “Vestal Virgins”)

love it!

The summer of 1967 had plenty of nearly incomprehensible songs-White Rabbit, Incense & Peppermints, Baby, You’re a Rich Man, Heroes & Villains, Crystal Ship-the list is endless.

I looked at the link and, actually, think the “explanation” that it’s about a drunk trying to pick up a girl makes a lot of sense to me.


White Rabbit is incomprehensible??

::looks up for wooshing thingie passing overhead::

Oh god , someone get the holy hand grenade of antioch.

Some one else get the book of arnaments , we got a bunny situation.


Problem with doo wop is that the fans wants every song to be very very light in mood and tone.