Saturday, 13 December 2008

The Discos of Christmas Past - No 1

This song used to be the definitive 'slow dance' at school dances in the seventies. If you were lucky, the DJ played this, if not, he played 'Nights In White Satin' which was nothing like as cool and involved Justin Hayward bellowing "I love you" which was totally uncool.

After the track ended, the lights would come up and we would all traipse out into the freezing cold, casting furtive sidelong glances to see who had copped off with whom, and whether they wanted anyone else to notice.

I've never seen this video before - thanks to Mitzi Szereto for bigging it up on Facebook. The band's clothes are wonderful, and the way they stand still with their arms folded reminds me of Madness, but slowed down. I never knew what the band looked like. Gary Brooker (the singer) looks like Peter Cook.

Whiter Shade of Pale
Procul Harum

About 2:35 into the video, when he sings the line about the vestal virgins, the scene switches from a churchyard to Trafalgar Square, and the camera follows a woman's bottom in a peachy pink dress. This probably means nothing, but I can't help but wonder...

By following the links from YouTube, I found the lyrics on, including two extra verses that aren't on the record, (but apparently are sung in concert) that reveal the woman in the song as a mermaid. We live, and learn...

We skipped the light fandango
turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
but 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 the miller told his 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
and would not let her be
one of sixteen vestal virgins
who were leaving for the coast
and although my eyes were open
they might have just as well've been closed

She 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.

1 comment:

KAZ said...

I enjoyed that.
What a strange pose - the one where he's sitting on the grass with his hand on his knee(?).
I checked in Wiki and he's an MBE now.