What does A Whiter Shade of Pale mean?

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Annie Lennox: A Whiter Shade of Pale Meaning


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Song Released: 1995

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A Whiter Shade of Pale Lyrics

We skipped the light fandango
Turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
I was feeling kind of seasick
The crowd called out for more
And the room was hummin' harder
As the ceiling flew away
And when we called outfor another drink
But the waiter...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Jan 30th 2019 report

    Okay, I have read several interpretations of this song on another website. While most were pretty interesting to me, I am in disagreement with what I read and especially those who think that there is a sexual connotation. Not saying that anyone's interpretation is wrong, no not at all. But after listening to this song several times and being a fan of the song for many years back in the early seventies. I will take a stab at it.

    I believe that it was a story told by a "Miller" in a village who tells the tale of a captain who sailed a ship on a maiden voyage that got caught in a Hurricane. And as the "vessel virgin" sailed into the storm, the captain realized that they were in a dangerous situation which left them in a dilemma at a point of no return. You could say that they sailed into a perfect storm.

    The skipping of the "light Fandango" which meant the games that were played on the ship was postponed as the ship was tossed and the passengers because of the turbulent waters were turning cartwheels across the floor. The room was humming harder just like a room hums during a Tornado as the wind fills it reverberating off the walls, so did the room of the ship, as the ceiling blew away. The passengers sitting at the Captain's table were probably playing cards and as it was believed that they were going to die anyway, the captain and guest kept playing cards. Most often by the time the passengers are sitting at the Captain's table, many are already drunk, or they had been drinking for a while.

    The crowd called out for another drink and the waiter brought a tray. And so it was as the Miller who later told the tale of this horrific tragedy, the woman with whom he was relating the tale too, as she listened attentively to the event, her face turned ghostly, turned a whiter shade of pale.

    Realizing that the tragedy should never have happened, the captain who did not want his vessel to remain a virgin like the other 15 vessel virgins that were also leaving for the coast. But rather wanted to sail in spite of the storm warnings and predictions. She too felt that there was no reason for this tragedy to have happened. The captain exclaims that "although his eyes were open to the truth which he could plainly see, due to his stupidity, they might just as well been closed. The captain must have survived to make this comment and was probably incarcerated at this point. There is an old adage that says: "For there are none so blind as those who will not see."

  2. anonymous
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    Feb 27th 2022 report

    I like top-rated, except it's 'vestal virgins', not 'vessel virgins'. a vestal virgin in ancient Rome was a virgin consecrated to Vesta and vowed to chastity, sharing the charge of maintaining the sacred fire burning on the goddess's altar.

  3. DystopianMe
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    Feb 15th 2021 report

    I have read that the writer claims there is no specific interpretation... That it was just to invoke a mood. Every time I hear it, it reminds me of a sea cruise I was on when the ship labored against the current. To me the song tells of a father-daughter dance entertainment team.
    They did a light Fandango act and retired to a table while dealing with the father's dizziness afterwards. They were on the top deck with a retractable ceiling as the ship hummed harder against the current. The waiter knew exactly what they drank when off duty and there was always older passengers around 'telling their tales' with forgettable names like Smith or Miller.
    The daughter constantly wanted to join the changing flux of young passengers having fun and going to excursions 'on the coast' and the father always had to rein her in. Each time it caused her to feel trapped and the disappointment turned her pale. He could not see her chance to be a kid draining away and even his usual diversion of playing cards turned into monotony.

  4. anonymous
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    Apr 16th 2020 report

    Maybe it's about the Titanic. Accepting fate and drinking at the bar instead of trying to jump ship.

  5. anonymous
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    Jul 16th 2019 report

    Keith 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 the fourth. Claes Johansen, in his book 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.

    Contrary to the above interpretations, Reid was quoted in the February 2008 issue of Uncut magazine as saying:

    I was trying to conjure a mood as much as tell a straightforward, girl-leaves-boy story. With the ceiling flying away and room humming harder, I wanted to paint an image of a scene. I wasn’t trying to be mysterious with those images, I was trying to be evocative. I suppose it seems like a decadent scene I’m describing. But I was too young to have experienced any decadence, then. I might have been smoking when I conceived it, but not when I wrote. It was influenced by books, not drugs.

    -from wikipedia

  6. anonymous
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    Jul 16th 2019 report

    It's about successfully picking up a girl at a party and talking your way into her pants. Sometimes a vase is only a vase.

  7. m320753
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    Mar 5th 2011 report

    when this song came out sung and written by procal harum, everybody and his dog knew this song was about heroin. every one thought the and the waiter brought a trat was really trey a term for the needles and whatever used to take the drug. and we swore that her face at first just ghostly( the heroin makes your skin weird)turned a whiter shade of pale. the chick OD'ed . reading the lyrics years later it's not about drugs. it about a pale heroin model which had it's day back then . these girls would get soooo skinny they would look near death and had black circles around their eyes. boy the things we went through. she probably didn't get the job and the shock that she went through all this made her face at once just ghostly, turn a whiter shade of pale

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway

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