The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

4 June 2005

A somewhat heavier fandango

The credits on Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale" have always read: music, Gary Brooker; lyrics, Keith Reid.

Matthew Fisher, Procol's organist, has maintained for some time that he contributed at least as much as Brooker — and, for that matter, as Johann Sebastian Bach — to the song. From a BBC interview in 2000:

The song used to be a lot longer, I mean it used to have four verses and what used to happen was that Gary and I would take turns in between verses. I'd play a bit and then he'd play a bit, and it was all improvised. When it got to the point where we decided we wanted to make a demo of this, and we had to cut it down because it was about ten, twelve minutes long, you know, decisions were made that perhaps it would be better just to have the organ doing the solos; and then I made the decision that well, if it was just gonna be me, then I would actually construct a definitive organ solo that would be the same every time, you know, that could be sort of a hook; and I did this by remembering all of my favourite bits that I'd played and stringing them together, during the course of which I did actually come up with this idea of actually changing the bass line, and so the whole thing got a little bit changed at that point.

That Air on a G String bit was pretty well down to Gary; I mean, he came up with that chord sequence and it was very strongly evocative of Air on a G String, and for me to try and play any other note than the one I start off on would have been deliberately going against that, which would have been stupid. So I went along with it, and then I drifted into this other thing, this Sleepers Awake thing, but all the little bits apart from that actually I did. If I say so myself you can't really see the join. A lot of people think that there is actually a Bach tune that is like that, but it isn't. It's just a couple of bits of Bach and the rest is me.

Comes now this notice on Fisher's Web site:

Jens Hills & Co., specialist media and entertainment litigators, have issued proceedings in the Royal Courts of Justice, Chancery Division on behalf of Matthew Fisher against Gary Brooker and Onward Music Limited for inter alia a declaration that Matthew Fisher is the co-author of the music in the song entitled "A Whiter Shade of Pale". The Royal Courts of Justice served the Claim Form and Particulars of Claim on Gary Brooker and Onward Music Limited on the 31st May 2005.

It's probably a safe bet Brooker didn't turn cartwheels 'cross the floor when he was so served.

Posted at 4:44 PM to Tongue and Groove


TrackBack: 10:10 AM, 5 June 2005
» Beyond the "Pale" from The Dawn Patrol
Charles G. Hill reports that, nearly 40 years after the Bach-flavored song hit, Procol Harum keyboardist Matthew Fisher is suing for a writer's credit on "A Whiter Shade of Pale."...[read more]

TrackBack: 9:10 PM, 5 June 2005
» What's "A Whiter Shade of Pale" about? from BatesLine
It's about six minutes to hold your sweetie close and sway back and forth on the dance floor. That's what I've always figured it was about. (In response to a comment here, which was in response to this bit of news here.)......[read more]

probably feelin' kinda seasick...........

Posted by: paulsmos at 9:36 PM on 4 June 2005