This girl gave me two tickets to a concert which featured King Crimson, Procol Harum and Yes at the Academy of Music in New York City and she also set me up with a date. The show was on November 24th 1971 which was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and she told me that she could not go to the concert, because her family was going away and she had to go with them, but she said that she did not want the tickets to be wasted and that her friend would go with me. I had heard of and listened to all three of these groups, but I was totally into the Grateful Dead at this time and this music was not very interesting to me, but her girlfriend was really cute and she lived on my block. My street had this hill at one end of it where the houses were much bigger than the ones from my end and some of them had built in swimming pools in their back yards, so even thought it was the same street, it was like two different parts of town.
The big problem was that I was 18 and this girl was only 15, but I had dated younger girls before and as long as they are cute, I would rather be with them than someone my one age that was not. King Crimson played some different music and I heard some of their stuff on the radio, but I did not know anything about the group except that they had 3 albums out ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’, ‘In the Wake of Poseidon’ and ‘Lizard’, and I did not know the name any of their songs. I was a bit more familiar with Procol Harum, as they had 5 albums out and that song ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’ was played a lot on the radio and I read that it was the biggest hit of the ‘Summer of Love’ back in 1967. The group Yes only had one album out that was called ‘The Yes Album’ and it was getting a lot of airplay and this is the group that my date wanted to see.
I always liked that opening line to the song ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’ saying, “We skipped the light fandango” and this was way before I became acquainted with WordPress Fandango. I read that someone located a missing verse to this and the final missing lines are below:
My mouth by then like cardboard
Seemed to slip straight through my head:
So we crashed, dived straight way quickly
And attacked the ocean bed
I read that the song explores what it means to be wrecked, in more than one sense of the word, it is a snapshot of a drunken sexual escapade gone awry, reaching its culmination in the oblivion and forgetfulness of sex. Keith Reid of Procol Harum wrote the lyrics to this song. Reid said that he got the idea for the title when he was at a party, this starting point allowed him to compose the rest of the song. Reid said that he was given a piece of the puzzle, the inspiration or whatever that allowed him to fill out the picture, to find the rest of the picture that that piece fits into. Kind of like having a prompt word to write about.
I have a different take on the meaning of this song and I think that it is about a groupie that wanted to travel around with the band. In the beginning the band is partying in some club. “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.” Everything seems pretty easy to comprehend till the next lyrics, “As the miller told his tale That her face, at first just ghostly Turned a whiter shade of pale.” What the hell did this miller say to make her face become ghostly? Let’s leave this for now and get back to the rest of the song.
“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 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 And so it was that later.” Back to my groupie theory, the miller told her that there was no more room for this girl in the entourage, which shocked her. She knew many of the other groupies that were traveling with the group and she wanted to be with the band and with her friends. She wanted to be one of the sixteen vestal virgins that would be traveling towards the coast. The guy singing the song heard her plea, but he was not listening as if his eyes were closed. And so it was the latter, she was not going with them.
The Vestal Virgins were educated, charming and wonderful conversationalists. They were considered to be good luck and they went to all the parties. Everybody knows that there are only twelve Vestal Virgins at a time, each serving 30 years of chastity. They usually range in age from 8 to 38 with the youngest group of four girls being the novices learning all that they need to know. The mid range girls are the actual Vestal Virgins and the older group are the mentors. I guess I will have to write another post to let everyone know how my date went.
Written for Laura M. Bailey All The Shoes I Wear Manic Mondays 3 way Prompt: Ghostly