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the Pale

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Gary Brooker on Swedish TV

1 February 1999

Niels-Erik Mortensen and Ben Mjoberg both kindly sent BtP this transcript of the interview with GB, aired on Swedish television (SVT1) Monday evening, 1 February 1999, on the show Booster. Together with the Swedish singer Jennifer Brown, Gary was invited to sing in SVT's new rock show for the so-called "25 plus" (over 25 years ...). The host, Per Dahlberg, introduced and asked (weird!) questions, sometimes answering them himself:

Per Dahlberg
Jennifer Brown, live. A very talented young lady.

Gary Brooker
A beautiful singer and a nice band, too.

Welcome to Sweden.

Thank you very much.

And welcome to Booster.

Yeah? Gary Brooker! How are you?

Per Dahlberg. (Shaking hands) Once upon a time, back in 1967, fate came knocking on your door. What happened? You wrote a song, right?

Er – which one was that?

Er – A whiter ...something ...

A Whiter Pale of Shade of White.


Well, I mean, fate didn't knock on my door. One morning when I was drinking tea at 10:30, I always have tea at 10:30 and 4 in the afternoon and I always write songs at the 10:30 session of tea; and I was there, a bit stumped as they say for inspiration, when I heard a knock on the door. And I opened it and there was nothing there. Absolutely nothing.

And then you went back?

No, I shut the door and suddenly, there was something there. Which was why I sat down and wrote a song, it always happens as that.

Did you know that – at that particular time when you wrote the song – did you have the feeling of just making a huge success?

No Way! No way!

It's a good song –

I was about 18 [sic], you know, you just sit down, you write a song, and you like it. That's what you have to do, when you're young. Just ask the lads in Jennifer's band. You've got to enjoy what you're doing and you've got to think it's good. I thought it was good but I didn't think like, you know – six weeks later, they'd be dancing to it in Venezuela.

But they did!

But they did!!

And then, this song which has been haunting you for like a quarter of a decade [sic!] ...

It doesn't haunt me, it haunts everybody else.

Yes, it does, but we love it – don't we? (Applause, and GB laughs). You said to me earlier that this song might one day save your life. How come?

You remember what I said to you earlier, don't you? We were down the pub in Norrköping here. (Laughs.) [The next words don't quite make sense, but here we go:] You were saying about sometimes if maybe some songs are a bit of weight on the back, you know, like carrying a backpack of rocks, if you have a big success, well, I got some big shoulders but I've got myself out of troubles quite a few times in [sic] AWSoP, and I've often thought the ultimate thing was if I was in South America or Africa where some pygmies – people that boil people up in big pots –

Norwegians do that.

Do they? Well, they've got to keep themselves warm somehow! Well, if you were gonna get boiled up somehow by these savages, cannibals, just as they're about – I'm in the pot – just as they are about to light the fire, they are staring at me with their bones through their nose, I go: " – Have you ever heard AWSoP? '... we skipped the light fandango ...'" And they go: "Woyopbollahbollah!" And I'd be free!

You speak very good Norwegian, actually.

Huh – that's Bengali, actually, yeah.

A fantastic story, a fantastic man. Your first song tonight it's not an "earring", a "golden earring".

"Golden earring"?!

Yes, I will call it that – Conquistador ...

Yeah, Conquistador as they say in Spain. I'd love to, I've only just dropped in, so I'd have to take the coat off...

Go down and play!



Host: Per Dahlberg.

Gary's play-list: Conquistador, A Salty Dog, A Whiter Shade of Pale

The band: Ronny Farsund, Jacob Huddén, Michael Hjort, Derek January, Kalle Månsson, Carl Flemsten (guitar / trumpet / bass / organ / synth / drums – but I don't know who did what ...)

Produced by SVT 1, Norrköping, 1999.

Niels-Erik adds:
My, my, Gary's little cannibal story reminded me of the way composer Richard Strauss, back in May 1945, greeted the advancing US troops outside his home in Berchtensgaden, a few kilometres from Hitler's Berghof, with the self-confident words: "I am ze compozer of Ze Rosenkavalier!" As if every GI should know about him ...

Gary Brooker's page at BtP

Another version of Gary's cannibal story is at the foot of this page

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