500 Greatest Songs of All Time

Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

Procol Harum, 'Whiter Shade of Pale'

57. Procol Harum, 'Whiter Shade of Pale'

Writers: Keith Reid, Gary Brooker
Producer: Denny Cordell
Released: June '67, A&M
12 weeks; No. 5

A somber hymn supported by an organ theme straight out of Bach ("Air on the G String," from the "Suite No. 3 in D Major"), Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale" was unlike anything else on the radio in 1967. Reid got the idea for the song when he overheard someone at a party tell a woman, "You've gone a whiter shade of pale." The track was also the only one recorded by the initial lineup of Procol Harum, which started as a British band, the Paramounts, in 1963. A worldwide smash that sold more than 6 million copies and quickly found its way into wedding ceremonies (and, later, the Big Chill soundtrack), "Pale" helped kick-start the classical-rock boomlet that gave the world the Moody Blues.

Appears on: Greatest Hits (A&M)

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