Procol Harum

the Pale

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'Taking Notes and Stealing Quotes'

The Truth Won't Fade Away

Album: The Prodigal Stranger (1991)

Authors: Brooker / Fisher / Reid

 Read the words

Performed: Quite frequently

Cover-versions: none


This stomping song, in a driving four-four time, uses predictable chord-changes in a slightly surprising F major rock songs like this are often written on guitar, which would lend itself to E rather than the present more keyboard-friendly key. Nevertheless it does feature Fisher playing the rhythm guitar part as a keyboard sample, which was also featured in early 90s live shows. Henry Spinetti is the drummer here, perhaps suggesting that the rhythm track survives from a demo session, which might also explain the anomalous and slightly curious, compressed percussion sounds.

It features a rare musical pun inasmuch as the song stops dead, rather than 'fading away', then features a reprise heralded by the return of the opening drum beat whereupon the 'fade away' refrain finally does fade away. There is a further irony in the fact that the final syllable of 'fade away' doesn't fade away naturally: it has been prolonged digitally throughout.

The song's conventional AOR rock styling resembles latter-day Genesis to some extent: perhaps the piano phrasings between the vocals in verse two, and going into the chorus, are the only real Procol stamp to the music, apart from the one-off inverted chord in the final verse, under 'we had so much to say' before the music halts.

A promotional video was made for this number (for which there was also a promo single release) with the band miming, including new addition Geoff Whitehorn on guitar; it featured such visual elaborations as the horse that had featured in the Black Beauty children's TV drama, rising out of the ground.

The song was performed regularly up until about 1995; and from about 1993, when Procol Harum toured supporting Jethro Tull, it acquired the rabble-rousing audience-participation coda (in which from time to time Gary Brooker has exhorted the crowd to sing like Fairport Convention or like Les Voix Bulgares). This was one of two songs Matthew Fisher rated as favourites from the The Prodigal Stranger album, according to Mike Ober in Then Play On (1992): the other was (You Can't) Turn Back The Page: "They're great songs," he said.

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