On this day in 1967, Procol Harum went to #1 on the UK singles chart with a song that over 40 years later would be named the most-played record of the past 70 years (with more than 900 known recorded versions by other artists).
The song, “A Whiter Shade Of Pale”.
With its haunting Bach-inspired instrumental organ motif, soulful vocals and unusual lyrics, the song is said to have been inspired by a conversation lyricist Keith Reid heard at a party, when a man said to a woman “You’ve turned a whiter shade of pale,” and the phrase stuck in his mind.
The Hammond organ line of “A Whiter Shade of Pale” was inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Sleepers, Wake!” and “Air on the G String” but contrary to popular belief, the song is not a direct copy or paraphrase of any music by Bach although it makes clear references to both pieces. The music also borrows ideas from “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge.
And now, for a lighter shade of tale, an interesting fact. ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’ was named joint winner of the Best British Pop Single 1952–1977 at the first BRIT Awards, along with Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
Both songs contain the word ‘fandango’.
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