Annie Lennox : 100 BEAUTIFUL SONGS

Number 25 : A Whiter Shade of Pale by Annie Lennox from Medusa in 1995

It’s a story often told by Annie — how she, as a teenager, was at party in which she brought the only record — Procol Harum’s worldwide chart-topping hit, “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” She played the song over and over at that party.

Like many Annie fans today whose love of music began with a specific Eurythmics song, Annie has clearly been influenced by “A Whiter Shade of Pale” since that party in Scotland. If nothing else but nostalgia for that long-past moment in time, Annie took her own stab at recording the song. The second single from Medusa, Annie’s version had some chart success across the globe, reaching No. 2 on Canada’s Hot Contemporary chart.

Annie’s video for the track equals the song’s dreamlike nature, with Annie swinging in a bear costume. She performed the song live in the US in a clown’s costume.

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We skipped the light fandango
turned cartwheels cross the floor
i was feeling kind of seasick
the crowd called out for more
the room was humming harder
as the ceiling flew away
when we called outfor another drink
but the waiter brought a tray

and so it was later
as the miller told his tale
that her face at first just ghostly
turned a whiter shade of pale

you said there is no reason
and the truth is plain to see
but I wander through my playing cards
and would not let it be
I’m one of the sixteen virgins
who are leaving for the coast
and although my eyes were open
they might just as well been closed

First off, welcome to the finish line. I am honored to be writing about my second favorite Annie Lennox track, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” from 1995’s Medusa. I ask myself often, what is it about this cover that makes me keep coming back for more. Is it the beautiful, almost music box style sound as the song fades in? Is it Annie’s hauntingly perfect and beautiful voice, like a true medusa, beckoning me back for another listen, though each spin breaks my heart? Is it the personal connection Annie has for the Procol Harum original, that helped shape who she became as an A List singer/songwriter/performer? Maybe. But, I also think, as with all songs that truly touch my soul, there is a bit of magic that was made in the studio when this gem was recorded, a kind of magic that never tires. A kind of magic, perhaps brewed up by the original songwriters, that is ever more extraordinary when paired with Lennox’s perfect delivery. A sad beauty, and rare few moments in time when everything works, and a very honorable way to kick off our Advent Calendar, 2019. Sometimes it is wise to ‘skip the loud fandango,’ and just be in the moment, especially a haunting, yet peaceful one such as ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale.’ And in that note, let the countdown to #1, Christmas Day, and Annie’s birthday begin!
– Dan Mueller

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