Conquistador (Procol Harum song)

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Song by Procol Harum
from the album Procol Harum
ReleasedSeptember 1967
RecordedJune 1967
Olympic Studios, London
GenrePsychedelic rock
LabelRegal Zonophone (UK)
Deram (US)
Songwriter(s)Gary Brooker, Keith Reid
Producer(s)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"
Single by Procol Harum
from the album Procol Harum Live: In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
Format7" single
RecordedNovember 18, 1971 at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton
GenrePsychedelic rock, symphonic rock
4:16 (single edit)
Songwriter(s)Gary Brooker, Keith Reid
Producer(s)Chris Thomas
Procol Harum singles chronology
"A Salty Dog"
"Grand Hotel"

"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 later released as a single from the band's 1972 live 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 1967's "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and "Homburg"), peaking at number 16.

Background and composition[edit]

The song's lyrics were written by Keith Reid, and its music was composed 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 the body of a long-dead conquistador in a desert setting. He at first jeers the desiccation and desolation of the corpse, but regrets his mockery and offers pity for the lonely and futile fate of the conquistador, "You 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.

The song is featured heavily and with great importance in the movie New York Stories in Martin Scorsese's opening short film, Life Lessons.

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 on 29 July 1972, exactly five years to the date after "A Whiter Shade of Pale" ascended to its #5 peak, 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]




Chart performance[edit]

Other appearances[edit]

  • Progressive rock band Transatlantic covered this song on their 2014 album Kaleidoscope, on disc 2 of the special edition.
  • A cover by Killdozer appears on their 7" single "Michael Gerald's Party Machine presents..."
  • Percy Faith and His Orchestra and Chorus covered the song on their 1972 album Day by Day.


  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.
  6. ^ Go-Set National Top 40, January 31, 1968
  7. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (doc)|format= requires |url= (help). Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  8. ^ Flavour of New Zealand, 16 October 1972
  9. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, July 29, 1972
  10. ^ "Best of 1972 songs and music, on". 12 November 2010. Archived from the original on 16 September 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  11. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-142-X.


  • 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.

External links[edit]