Although I wouldn’t assume to know what the song is about in its entirety, I believe the man himself stated that he wished to depict something like a Salvador Dali painting aurally.
So the lyrics can’t be taken literally due to the surrealism they are trying to invoke. Of course reality will mixed in with the fantasy here which makes it harder to interpret.
Here’s my quick points that I imagine when I listen to the full 4 verses. There are two stories I imagine depending on my mood a given day.
(1). An acid trip at a party
(2). A doomed boat trip (many have suggested specifically the titanic)
To twist it further the acid trip could be happening on a boat :)
Folks can read the lyrics themselves through the eyes of (1) or (2) and can see confirmation themselves for both stories. I won’t ramble and spell them all out with the exception of just one that I don’t think I’ve seen noted before so here is my punchline in relation to point (2).
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
On a cold dark night in the ocean an approaching iceberg would indeed first appear ghostly becoming a whiter shade of pale as the ship approached.
People can take their own meaning and interpretation in many songs. I’ve written many myself and I know for a fact oftentimes my lyrics don’t form a seamless story and I deliberately leave double entendres in so that people can imagine whatever picture they want to see.
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