Procol Harum

the Pale

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'A Whiter Shade of Pale'

In the BBC Radio 2 Golden Jubilee poll, June 2002

In the months leading up to Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee in June 2002, BBC Radio 2 ran a poll to establish what was the nation's favourite piece of music recorded by British artists during the fifty years of her reign. DJ Simon Mayo presented the run-down on 1 June, and you can hear excerpts from the programme in the mp3 extracts on this page.

BtP's banner to encourage voters

Given the British love of wordplay, it seemed a foregone conclusion that something by Queen would top the poll. However our love of music comes a close second, so it was no surprise to find Procol Harum as runner-up with A Whiter Shade of Pale, rightly eclipsing the likes of Lennon, Led Zeppelin, Dusty Springfield, The Hollies, The Moody Blues, The Bee Gees, The Kinks, Kate Bush, Derek and the Dominoes, Elton John, Deep Purple, 10 cc, The Animals, Dire Straits, Rod Stewart, Cockney Rebel, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, The Shadows, Bowie, the Zombies, Free, The Police and The Who.

Conspicuously the Top 10 features no song from the past quarter century, doubtless for demographic reasons: Radio 2 still largely appeals to the over 40s whose love of music is very probably just a reflection of what they enjoyed when they were younger. The retro-flavoured Angels, by Robbie Williams, is the only piece in whole top 50 to have come out in the past decade. All the more mysterious, then, that Procol Harum aren't on the bill to play The Palace for the Queen's Musical Extravaganza, which Brian May is to kick-start by playing the national anthem from the palace roof. About two million people applied for the free tickets to two shows, highlights of the Queen's Golden Jubilee weekend, but none will hear Procol. Gary Brooker declared that the band were 'pissed off' about this, during the Croydon concert: and it would certainly have been nice to have seen PH up there with the selected artists, specially in view of the excellent performance of AWSoP in the poll. Perhaps good sense will prevail for the Diamond Jubilee

Introduction from DJ Simon May: mp3 extract 1

Gary Brooker's telephone interview about the meaning of the song: mp3 extract 2 : 'It means whatever you want it to mean. Because it's not the type of thing that I know what it is, and you got bored with it after a year or ten it's because you're not quite sure what it is you know that something's going on, it's kind of got a romance in there somewhere, on the other hand it's not all going to plan; as soon as that organ starts, you kind of go into a bit of a different world, it sort of it cuts you off. It's not that it reminds you of something: if it was only memory that was keeping this song where you've got it now, it must be other people hearing it that weren't there in 1967 people must have heard it in 1987 or something, and it still does something to them.'

The countdown of the entire top 50: mp3 extract 3

1 Queen
Bohemian Rhapsody

2 Procol Harum
A Whiter Shade Of Pale

3 John Lennon

4 Clifford T Ward
Home Thoughts From Abroad

5 Led Zeppelin
Stairway To Heaven

6 Beatles

7 Beatles
Hey Jude

8 Cliff Richard
We Don't Talk Any More

9 Dusty Springfield
You Don't Have To Say You Love Me

10 The Hollies
He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

11 Gerry Rafferty
Baker Street

12 Moody Blues
Nights In White Satin

13 Bee Gees
How Deep Is Your Love?

14 Cliff Richard
Move It

15 Duran Duran
Ordinary World

16 Mike Oldfield
Tubular Bells

17 The Kinks
Waterloo Sunset

18 Kate Bush
Wuthering Heights

19 Beatles
Let It Be

20 Derek And The Dominoes

21 David Essex
Rock On

22 Phil Collins
In The Air Tonight

23 Elton John
Your Song

24 Chris Farlowe
Out Of Time

25= Robbie Williams

25= Petula Clark

27 Beatles
Strawberry Fields Forever

28 Deep Purple
Smoke On The Water

29 10CC
I'm Not In Love

30 Billy Fury
Half Way To Paradise

31 The Animals
House Of The Rising Sun

32 Dire Straits
Sultans Of Swing

33 Spandau Ballet

34 Rod Stewart
Maggie May

35 Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel
Make Me Smile

36 The Beatles
She Loves You

37 Fleetwood Mac

38 Shadows

39 Judy Tzuke
Stay With Me

40 David Bowie
Life On Mars

41 The Zombies
She's Not There

42 Elvis Costello
Oliver's Army

43 Free
All Right Now

44 The Police
Every Breath You Take

45 The Who
Won't Get Fooled Again

46 Shirley Bassey

47 George Harrison
My Sweet Lord

48 Humphrey Lyttelton
Bad Penny Blues

49 Matt Monro
Portrait of my Love

50 Ultravox



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