Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” Is Heart-Wrenching Beautiful With Danish Orchestra

Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” is one of the most beautiful songs ever written, but the band took it to the next level by playing it with the Danish National Concert Orchestra and Choir at Ledreborg Castle, Denmark. Frontman Gary Brooker has admitted that the song was influenced by Johann Sebastian Bach’s Suite No. 3 in D Major, so it’s quite fitting that the song got the full orchestral treatment at the August 2006 performance.

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The group performed 15 songs with the orchestra at the concert, which were later released as a live album. The orchestra really shines on “A Whiter Shade of Pale”, with a gorgeous orchestral opening that showcases the beauty of the melody of the song. Brooker leads the band in after 90 seconds, and despite being 61, he sounds exactly like he did on the original recording from 1967. The stunning live collaboration was a hit online, attracting 99 million views on YouTube.

Procol Harum’s decision to work with the Danish National Concert Orchestra was very inspired, as the classical influence on the band’s music truly makes it a match made in heaven. The orchestra adds a great deal of depth to the performance, and hearing the velvet voices of the choir is a real treat.

The performance received a warm reception online, with fans adding appreciative comments such as “Without a doubt the best and most emotionally felt version of this masterpiece” and “One of the greatest songs ever written. No other singer captures the song like he does.” Another brilliant moment from the concert is “A Salty Dog”, with a moving performance from the choir over the iconic piano introduction.

“A Whiter Shade of Pale” is Procol Harum’s biggest hit, and it went to number one just about all over the world, including in the UK, Canada, France and Germany. The non-album single was released on May 12, 1967, and went on to become one of the highest-selling singles in history, having moved 10 million copies worldwide.

“A Whiter Shade of Pale” and its cryptic lyrics are synonymous with the 1967 Summer of Love. It has frequently been listed as one of the greatest songs of all time by critics, including by Rolling Stone, who placed it at 57 on their The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. The song is also a favourite among fellow musicians, with more than 1000 cover versions having been performed by various artists.

The writing credits for “A Whiter Shade of Pale” initially only listed Procol Harum members Gary Brooker and Keith Reid, who provided the music and lyrics respectively. However, in 2009 their bandmate Matthew Fisher successfully fought in court to gain a co-writing credit for the music.

Reid commented on the origin of the lyrics while talking to Uncut Magazine, 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.”

On the topic of the inspiration for the song, he added, “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.”

For fans of Procol Harum who would like to hear more of their stunning music, links to their official channels are provided. You can hear renditions like the spectacular orchestral version of “A Whiter Shade of Pale” on their YouTube Channel. You can also follow and engage with them on their official Facebook page. Whether you are a longtime supporter or a new listener, these channels are your gateway to the unique blend of classical and rock that only Procol Harum can deliver.

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