Pandora's Box

Album: Procol's Ninth (1975)
Charted: 16
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Songfacts®:

  • While the title of this song is not part of the lyrics, it does fit the theme of mythological chaos. Long before it was the name of an internet music service, Pandora was a figure in Greek mythology: the first woman created by the gods. The "Pandora's Box" was a jar she was given that contained all the evils in the world, which she opened in the spirit of curiosity.

    Procol Harum's lyrics are written by Keith Reid, who is considered a full member of the band even though he does not sing or play any instruments. Reid is meticulous in his writing and uses many literary references, although he told us that he was not thinking of Chaucer when he wrote the famous line in "A Whiter Shade Of Pale," "The miller told his tale." Gary Brooker, who is the voice of Procol Harum and puts Reid's lyrics to music, told us: "I knew that he had thought very carefully about every single word. Every 'V' and 'N,' there wasn't anything - I mean, if I tried to take even a small adjective out of a line, it would be strongly resisted by Keith, because that would take away the sense that he had. Therefore, I've never needed to change his lyrics. He's mellowed out a bit over the years, and recently I said something like, 'I want to have a long note on the end of this line, and yet that word there, I cannot make it last long singing it.' There are words like that. And he will quite willingly think of something else without changing the meaning at all."
  • The album title is a play on Beethoven's 9th Symphony, which is considered a masterwork. While Procol Harum was heavily influenced by classical music, the title was a bit tongue-in-cheek, as it really was their 9th album.
  • The album was produced by the legendary team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (Leiber and Stoller), whose credits include "Hound Dog" and "On Broadway." Gary Brooker was a big fan of their work, Gary Brooker had when he discovered that they were in Britain producing the debut album for Stealers Wheel, he asked them to work with Procol Harum and was thrilled when they agreed. This was the first song on the album, and it had a Latin flavor, which was something Leiber and Stoller used on songs like "Spanish Harlem" and "Down in Mexico." It brought Procol back to the singles charts for the last time in the UK, where it hit #16 and led to three appearances on Top of the Pops.

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