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The Only One - Procol Harum

I was going to finally have Pete Brown sign off with "Don't Get Caught" (see last post) but the penultimate track from Procol Harum's final album "Novum" keeps whispering to me at odd times of the day, driving to the shops, walking up the steps by the library, looking back at the land while swimming out to sea.

According to the Wikipedia dictionary "Novum" means

  1. A new feature, a novelty.

  2. (Narratology, science fiction) An innovation which is fictional, but, following the logic of cognitive estrangement (characteristic of science fiction), is afforded plausibility by the assumption that the fictional setting is scientifically consistent. quotations

  3. (obsolete, uncountable) A game of dice, properly called novem quinque, the two principal throws being nine and five."

which displays a fine sense of irony on the part of bandleader Gary Brooker, the album representing something "new" in that it was the first Procol Harum album to feature the lyrics of Pete Brown, or possibly that it was Procol Harum's first LP release in 14 years, indicating a "rebirth" hence a degree of newness or novelty.

But this is definitely an album of farewell, from the reminiscent "Don't Get Caught", to the weary "Sunday Morning" which consciously appropriates Pachelbel's "Canon" in the same way that Bach's "Air on a G String", was so successfully deployed on the band's first record and number one hit, "A Whiter Shade of Pale", released almost exactly 50 years before.

The lyrics for the final track on the album, "Somewhen", where written, appropriately, by Gary Brooker himself, so "The Only One", the track before, is Pete Brown's last musical entry on vinyl. And you don't get more valedictory than this, a rumination on the existence of God, suffused with the notion that God is us, the world is in each and everyone's head, - we die then it dies. The result is extraordinarily powerful, Brooker's trenchant vocal measured and assured to the end. And there it is, as it transpired, the two of them, Gary Brooker and Pete Brown, signing off.

"I, I am the only one there is nobody else. This whole world, I put it there, I dreamed it up myself. Well, it was just an accident I didn't plan it out.....

.......Some say I've gone and left you but I was never really there I was just a brief overnight on the way to somewhere.

I, I am the only one, I am in your head. Oh, I am the only one and when all is said and done oh, I, I am the only one and I am in your head. I am the only one and when all is said and done

I'm gone,

I'm gone,

I am gone."


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