Conquistador (Procol Harum song)

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"Conquistador"
Song by Procol Harum from the album Procol Harum
Released September 1967
Recorded June 1967
Olympic Studios, London
Genre Psychedelic rock
Length 2:42
Label Regal Zonophone (UK)
Deram (US)
Writer Gary Brooker, Keith Reid
Producer Denny Cordell
Procol Harum track listing
  1. "Conquistador"
  2. "She Wandered Through the Garden Fence"
  3. "Something Following Me"
  4. "Mabel"
  5. "Cerdes (Outside the Gates Of)"
  6. "A Christmas Camel"
  7. "Kaleidoscope"
  8. "Salad Days (Are Here Again)"
  9. "Good Captain Clack"
  10. "Repent Walpurgis"
"Conquistador"
Single by Procol Harum
from the album Procol Harum Live In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
Released 1972
Format 7" single
Genre Psychedelic rock
Length 5:02
4:16 (single edit)
Label Chrysalis
Writer(s) Gary Brooker, Keith Reid
Producer(s) Chris Thomas
Procol Harum singles chronology
"A Salty Dog"
(1969)
"Conquistador"
(1972)
"Grand Hotel"
(1973)

"Conquistador" is a song by the British psychedelic rock band Procol Harum. Written by Gary Brooker and Keith Reid, it originally appeared on the band's 1967 self-titled debut album. It was released as a single off the band's 1972 album Procol Harum Live In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. It is one of the band's most famous and popular songs and their third Top 40 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 (after "A Whiter Shade of Pale"), peaking at number 16.

Background and composition[edit]

The song's lyrics were written by Keith Reid and its music was written by Gary Brooker, who also sang. It was featured on the band's 1967 album, Procol Harum.[1] The song is unusual in that the music was written before the lyrics; according to Reid, "99 out of 100 of those Procol Harum songs were written the words first, and then were set to music." He explained that Brooker had written a piece of Spanish-flavored music before the band had officially formed, and Reid decided to write lyrics about a conquistador.[2] In August 1971, Procol Harum was invited to perform with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in Edmonton, Alberta. "Conquistador" was added to the set with little time to spare, and the orchestra had no time to rehearse. Nonetheless, they began the concert with the song, and the concert was captured on the album Procol Harum Live In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, of which "Conquistador" was the lead single.[3]

Lyrics content[edit]

The narrator of "Conquistador" addresses a conquistador, at whose obvious decay, and at the signs of whose dessication and desolation, he at first jeers. But in time, he is regretful of his mockery, for the conquistador whom he was addressing was unsuccessful in that he "did not conquer, only die." The refrain consists of the morose couplet:
And though I hoped for something to find
I could see no maze to unwind
with which the selection closes just before its instrumental trumpet coda, which gives it a mariachi-esque but mournful sound.

Release and reception[edit]

Besides "A Whiter Shade of Pale", "Conquistador" was the band's highest charting single. It peaked at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972, and helped catapult the album into the top five.[3] "Conquistador" peaked at #22 on the UK Singles Chart.[4] The song was generally well received by music critics. Bruce Eder of Allmusic praised it as "the most accessible song" on Procol Harum Live In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, adding that "nothing else [on the album] matches it for sheer, bracing excitement.[3] It was listed on Dave Thompson's 1000 Songs that Rock Your World.[5]

Personnel[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1972) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Chart[3] 16
U.K. Singles Chart[4] 22

Other appearances[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Procol Harum review". Allmusic. Macrovision Corporation. Retrieved July 12, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Conquistador by Procol Harum". Songfacts. Retrieved July 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d Eder, Bruce. "Live In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra review". Allmusic. Macrovision Corporation. Retrieved July 12, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Roberts 2006, p. 440
  5. ^ Thompson 2011, p. 138.

References[edit]

  • Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  • Thompson, Dave (2011). 1000 Songs that Rock Your World. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. ISBN 1-4402-1422-0.