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“A Whiter Shade of Pale” was a gigantic hit for the British band Procol Harum and it became the anthem for the “summer of love.” They sold ten million records and it became one of the most popular songs of all time, with 800 cover versions made. The band fizzled out and was split up by 1977. The music licensing company PPL says “Pale” is the “most played song in public places over the last 75 years.” It brings in a lot of money and forty years after the fact, the in court bandmates are fighting over who wrote it. We don’t envy the judge who has to untangle this mess.

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  1. Janet, did you ‘Turn on ,Tune in and Drop Out’ in the Haight-Ashbury? Tell us some stories of your freaky summer!

  2. Johnny winters sang it better.
    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 [see note, left, about this verse + its opening]
    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

  3. The second guy from the right in the picture (larger orange collar) is Robin Trower. Robin continues to rock out clubs across the country and plays some of the best bluesy guitar you will EVER pay $40 to see. I cannot imagine him caring who wrote Whiter Shade of Pale, or him ever peforming organ trip music again. Bridge of Sighs and Too Rolling Stoned are far better songs.

  4. clean: Keith Reid wrote the lyrics. There’s no disputing that. The lawsuit, which has now been settled in Matthew Fishers’ favor, is over whether his organ contribution constitutes co-authorship, and thus a share in residuals. He may never perform “organ trip music” again, but he probably still likes getting paid. And 40% of the royalties on one of the most popular and covered songs in recent history is probably worth going to court over.

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