'Taking Notes and Stealing Quotes'
One More Time
The engaging drum opening and Hammond flourish usher in 'kind of a blues
shuffle in more or less in G minor' as Gary Brooker has called this song
in concert. Despite its adoption album title-track, this may actually be
one of the most un-Procol Harum like offerings by the band. Its blues-derivative
form is neither classically leavened, nor imitative of the delta variety
unlike earlier pastiches such as Juicy John Pink: in some senses
it harks right back to the experimental nature of the early Alpha
– a song Brooker and Reid abandoned for 28 years!
Its apparent simplicity – and ingenuous 6/8 rhythm – belies some ingenious
harmonic construction: after conventioanal explorations of the home key,
with a suitably funky major/minor seventh on the dominant, the verse sets
about climbing stepwise from C minor towards an expected climax in B flat,
the related major key. This is cunningly subverted by a dive to a B flat
minor (the vocal pitching the fourth of that chord!), while the ensuing
chord sequence implies a resolution in D flat (the most distant key from
G minor) that never comes! The end-of-verse harmonic climb is extended
by one tone in the final verse so that the final chorus (and playout) are
a tone higher than we've earlier heard them. None of this would be easy
for an inexperienced vocalist to pitch, yet it sounds very natural in performance.
Drama is inserted by the heavily anticipated accents at the ends of
lines in the verses ('and take a look'), and by Trower's guitar soaring
over the rest of the ensemble. The guitar takes a solo in his classic style,
despite a sprinkle of string harmonics that one would not have expected
on the early albums. Less Procolian altogether are the AOR wailing male
and female vocals, the abrupt fade just as Brooker starts to let rip, and
of course the words themselves which are hung together with facile end-of-line
rhymes and little semblance of allusion, symbolism or wider resonance.
The surface 'old flame' reading of the song might be taken, as with
Brooker's Give Me Something To Remember You By, as a request
for one last act of sexual congress before the erstwhile lovers part forever.
The phrase 'one more time' is common in song titles and texts (in the chorus
of no less a smash than Britney Spears's Hit Me Baby in fact)
but it is not in common conversational usage ... though 'one more time'
does occur as a sardonic spoken aside in George Harrison's Piggies
(incidentally featuring harspichord from Chris
Thomas) on the Beatles' White Album.
The song was performed regularly during the 1991-2 promotional gigs,
though less frequently since and certainly not since 1995. The live version
on the album of the same name seems to be a faithful copy of the studio
arrangement, thought a few minor word changes occur: "I'm feeling kinda
different now, I remember how you were"
Title: One More Time was adopted in 2000 as the title of Procol
Harum's 1992 live album; like 1995's The
Long Goodbye it has a retrospective flavour, as if ironically apologising
for continued recycling of old songs in the absence of new materiel. The
phrase 'one more time' is also featured in (You Can't) Turn Back
the Page, the song that precedes this one on the album.
'So you're coming back home again': it would be pleasant to imagine that
this tale of reunion related to the Prodigal Son ... as well as having
an album named Home and two song-titles featuring the word, Procol
Harum sang a lot about home in both positive and negative lights: ''I'm
home on shore leave' (A Whiter Shade of Pale); 'Thought I'd left
it at home' (Something Following Me); 'ships come home to
die' (A Salty Dog); 'Tell all my friends back home' (The
Milk Of Human Kindness); 'I wasn't at home in bed' (Juicy
John Pink); 'how far I was from home' (Pilgrims Progress);
'I came home to an empty flat' (Toujours L'amour); 'I'm
not coming home' (A Rum Tale); 'I'll have to take it home'
(A Souvenir of London); 'Bringing home the bacon' (Bringing
Home the Bacon); 'The crowds have gone home' (Fires (Which
Burnt Brightly)); 'Far away from home' (Holding on);
'A dream in every home ' (A dream in ev'ry home); 'you can't
find a way back home' (The hand that rocks the
cradle) and 'leave our home for pastures new' in the unpublished One
Eye on the Future, One Eye on the Past.
'you've found yourself a new man' immediately suggests that the song is
addressed to a former girlfriend. Many Reid words support a conventional
romantic reading, plus an esoteric meaning alluding to the history of Procol
Harum: Fires (Which Burnt Brightly) is a good example. 'A new man'
could conceivably be 'a new song-writing partner' ... and perhaps 'wonder
if you've finished working on that book' reinforces such an interpretation.
However it's a book that can be assessed by taking 'a look' ... so it doesn't
promise to be very literary!
In view of the above, the lines 'we had something special: where did it
go?' and 'Can't help wondering where it went' present a real hostage to
fortune for the critics.
'You've changed your hair': fans who insist on a band-biographical interpretation
of this song will point out that the Brooker hair did indeed undergo a
major change between the old and new testament versions of Procol Harum,
and that 'I've still got your picture' bears an apparent relation to the
(Reid-penned) words of the Brooker solo-track, Trick of the Night,
in which the picture of 'a friend of mine in another time' makes him 'think
of times together'. However, it's surely hard to imagine that these unusually
literal words were written specifically for a Procol Harum album; if, as
is sometimes claimed, the song originated with a Fisher demo, it may be
that the chorus words, 'One More Time', which so closely fit the musical
rhythm, dictated the relatively prosaic nature rest of the rest of the
'Let's remember how good it felt': 'remember' is also a key word in A
Dream in Ev'ry Home but before album it occurs only in one Procol Harum
song, and that a very late one: Strangers in Space. Aptly, with
the younger Reid, nostalgia was not a strong component.
'Remember what we meant' is very elliptical ... 'Remember what we meant
to each other'? Or 'Remember what we meant to do'?