Procol Harum – Whiter Shade of Pale

I don’t follow conventions. You’ll get to know that about me. Who came up with Throwback Thursday anyway. Such a convention now. Boo.

I was listening to this song tonight. Looking at the bad video/audio sync like so many other song video recordings I’ve been listening to this week. They just didn’t have their shit together. I mean, I remember when we were all wowed by Michael Jackson because he had dancers who actually moved in sync with one another. But again, I digress.

This song reminds me of my eldest sister’s wedding. It was a rainy day. She married an Armenian-American guy from Providence, RI. It was a tight-knit group from a proud community. I was in college in Tallahassee at the time. I flew there and suddenly felt like, with the first communal dinner party, that I was in a different country. Grape wrapped rice things. Dolmades. The women in the house talked in a language I had never heard before and the men called sandwiches, sangwidges.

Everything was foreign. I was displaced. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, but who exactly was this newfound family of my sister? How was I going to fit in now.

The wedding day came and I started taking pictures. My sister’s posse had gotten a few rooms in a posh hotel in the downtown district. The women were in a frenzy getting everyone’s hair and nails done when I noticed it started to rain outside.

My sister, the bride, in her hair curlers, took a moment to go down the hall. The view was beautiful and she opened the window the small crack that it would allow. She pulled a cigarette out of her pocket and exhaled her breath into the foggy Providence air. And I took a picture. I was standing down the hall from her and thought, “What a profound moment this is.” Needless to say, she found out and promptly scolded me, admonishing me that her new mother-in-law would now know that she smoked sometimes. And, even though I never got that picture developed, it’s still with me.

But, to the song. It was a great wedding. Arguments and rain and French relatives and all. It was a huge wedding. Catholic. Big. 500+. People flown from Lyon and stuff. Did I say big? I felt like my sister was no longer mine that day. She was lost in the swirl of guests and relatives. That’s how big it was.

But, at the reception, we got to dance. And I really like to dance. I don’t do it well at all, but I kind of like that about it, too. And all the Armenians did their thing. Dancing around in a big circle and shooting alternate feet out like something I saw once in a Russian movie.

So, we watched them. My brothers and sisters and me. My older brother and I were a mainstay at the open bar, doing shots. And we finally got tired of their whole show.

And we got up there and danced some really bad American style stuff by ourselves. It was embarrassing to say the least. It was. It was bad, drunken, non-cohesive dancing and calling people’s names from the dance floor, imploring them to join in. I mean, we don’t really have a culture. But we do know how to get drunk and sentimental. And my brother wanted to hear Procol Harum. Yes, here’s where the longest story in the world wraps around.

Procol Harum was our song. My brother and my sisters and me. It was a song that got us through the hard times when my mother died. And I think we just wanted one last dance together. But the DJ wouldn’t play it. He said it was too depressing to play at a wedding. And he said the song doesn’t even make sense. But it doesn’t always have to make sense. It doesn’t always have to wrap around to a feel-good pop vibe. I guess that’s my point. And I would’ve loved to have had that dance with them. Just the four of us, together one last time.

But, somewhere amidst the haze of alcohol, I do remember my brother and myself dancing to You Look Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton. And singing it loudly and probably oh so badly. We’ll always have that. So, there’s something.

For my brothers and sisters.

Lyrics:

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
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
Songwriters: Gary Brooker / Keith Reid / Matthew Fisher
A Whiter Shade of Pale lyrics © T.R.O. Inc.
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First Aid Kit’s Silver Lining

I know this was published in 2014, but this is the first I’m hearing it. These girls from Stockholm have a magical kismet together and I first fell in love with them hearing their song Emmylou. I mean, what kind of self-respecting music lover wouldn’t love a song entitled Emmylou with mentions of Johnny Cash, June Carter and Gram Parsons?

This song has no cryptic language, the lyrics are straightforward and, dare I say, inpiring(?). It’s all about determination in life and they capture this well with this tune with the repeated mantra throughout, “I try to keep on keeping on.” The alto and soprano mix of the girls’ voices keeps great pace with the driving music beneath it, giving us a sense of movement. And forward movement is what the song is all about.

This song is great to listen to while driving to work. Especially to a job you hate.

Lyrics:

I don’t want to wait anymore I’m tired of looking for answers
Take me some place where there’s music and there’s laughter
I don’t know if I’m scared of dying but I’m scared of living too fast, too slow
Regret, remorse, hold on, oh no I’ve got to go
There’s no starting over, no new beginnings, time races on
And you’ve just gotta keep on keeping on
Gotta keep on going, looking straight out on the road
Can’t worry ’bout what’s behind you or what’s coming for you further up the road
I try not to hold on to what is gone, I try to do right what is wrong
I try to keep on keeping on
Yeah I just keep on keeping on

I hear a voice calling
Calling out for me
These shackles I’ve made in an attempt to be free
Be it for reason, be it for love
I won’t take the easy road

I’ve woken up in a hotel room, my worries as big as the moon
Having no idea who or what or where I am
Something good comes with the bad
A song’s never just sad
There’s hope, there’s a silver lining
Show me my silver lining
Show me my silver lining

I hear a voice calling
Calling out for me
These shackles I’ve made in an attempt to be free
Be it for reason, be it for love
I won’t take the easy road

I won’t take the easy road
The easy road, the easy road

I won’t take the easy road
The easy road, the easy road

Show me my silver lining, I try to keep on keeping on
Show me my silver lining, I try to keep on keeping on
Show me my silver lining, I try to keep on keeping on
Show me my silver lining, I try to keep on keeping on

Written by Johanna Kajsa Soederberg, Klara Maria Soederberg • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Kings of Leon – The Final Chapter, Reverend

Okay, I’ve been totally addicted to this song for a week now. I heard it probably a month ago and it has really grown on me. Caleb and the boys bring themselves back to a more melodic tune with a serious bass drive that underscores the sobering video images, which, might I just add, thank God somebody’s doing good videos again. If you listen to the lyrics without the video, though, they’re just as strong visually, so you get a good sense of what they’re trying to say here: That the relationship is at an impasse.

This song is great to listen to while walking your dog. 

Lyrics

On the limb cut down in the middle of the night caught in a trap
Cursed by the crown of the wandering man who was never coming back
Stuck on the line spinning all of his time with his back to the throne
With the flash of the round everybody in town said leave me alone

Just like a reverend, like a reverend on the radio
Your heart will never say so
Your heart will never let you go
Just like a reverend, like a reverend on the radio
My heart will never say so
My heart will never let you go

I got caught in the middle of a hurricane fight facing the ground
Beast to the wild with the porcelain smile as it passes around
The truth in the skies from the billowing eyes isn’t working on me
Don’t you think you gotta give me
Give me something I want
Give me something I need

Just like a reverend, like a reverend on the radio
Your heart will never say so
Your heart will never let you go
Just like a reverend, like a reverend on the radio
My heart will never say so
My heart will never let you go

Just like a reverend, like a reverend on the radio
Your heart will never say so
Your heart will never let you go
Just like a reverend, like a reverend on the radio
My heart will never say so
My heart will never let you go

Just like a reverend, like a reverend on the radio
My heart will never say so
My heart will never let you go

Written by Matthew Followill, Ivan Nathan Followill, Caleb Followill, Jared Followill • Copyright © BMG Rights Management US, LLC