A Whiter Shade of Pale: Lyrics, Meaning, and Video

A Whiter Shade of Pale (the Annie Lennox version) has always been one of my favorite songs. As you may know (if you’ve been reading my blog since last April), I’m obsessed with anything, everything Titanic and have been since I was little. This morning I was in need of some new music to write to. I set up mixpod.com with an all Annie Lennox playlist and, of course, A Whiter Shade of Pale linked up first. As I started writing, my mind started wandering…what on earth do these crazy lyrics mean? I’ve included the lyrics from azlyrics here so you can take a look:

“A Whiter Shade Of Pale”
Originally produced by Procol Harum
This version by Annie Lennox

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 out for another drink
But the waiter brought a tray

And so it was 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 wander through my playin’ cards
Would not let her be
One of the sixteen vestal virgins
Who were leaving for the coast
And although my eyes were open
They might just as well been closed

And so it was later
As the miller told his tale
That her face at first just ghostly
Turned a whiter shade of pale.
A whiter shade of pale
Turned a whiter shade of pale
A whiter shade of pale

Then I spent about an hour sifting through random yahoo! answers to find a reputable source for the meaning of the song. I found this:

“The song explores what it means to be wrecked, in more than one sense of the word. A nervous seducer sustains his courage with alcohol. As he becomes more drunk, his impressions of his unfamiliar partner become confused by stray thoughts, fragments of childhood reading and his own faint-hearted aspirations. The song’s recurring metaphor is of maritime disaster, and a parallel is drawn between romantic conquest and the allure and peril of the sea. The hero is a callow juvenile, far happier with a book than risking the emotional bruising of relationships. This ambivalence is underscored by frequent allusions to nausea.”–The text is excerpted from Tim de Lisle’s Lives of the Great Songs.

So you can imagine my surprise that one of my all-time favorite songs happens to be about a romantic encounter…and a maritime disaster…and mentions my name in it. (Hello Miller’s tale!) Oh, I’m swooning.

If it’s at all possible, I love the song more. Ever had a song speak to you? Ever feel like you were going along just fine, only to be stopped in your tracks and diverted down another path? A walk down memory lane, maybe? Yeah. Me too. Happens all the time.

Now I’m going to enjoy the video over and over again. I know I said it already but hope you have a great Labor Day weekend! And I hope sometime in the near future you have one of these moments. A moment where, if only for a split second, things make absolute perfect sense.


3 thoughts on “A Whiter Shade of Pale: Lyrics, Meaning, and Video

  1. all is not as it seems, there are meanings within meanings, I think he realises the spiral he is on and because of past refuses to alter the course chosen, he is the miller:n a traditional rural society, a miller is often wealthier than ordinary peasants, which can lead to jealousy and to millers being targeted in bread riots at times of famine. Conversely, millers might be in a stronger position vis-a-vis feudal land owners than are ordinary peasants.sounds guilt ridden and in denial, still it is a nice songransom56@hotmail.com

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