Hello (hello, hello … is there anybody out there?).
Please forgive the juxtaposition of two songs from “The Wall,” but I couldn’t resist.
I have today off from work, and I’m spending it relaxing. For me, that’ll mean a fair share of music.
I’ve been on a big Pink Floyd kick of late. I wake up with the group’s songs going through my head. I drive to work humming some of them. I’ll find myself pondering the instrumental and lyrical depth of some of their great works while doing my job.
Why now? I don’t know. Perhaps the better question is: Why not now?
It’s been 50 years since Pink Floyd’s first album was released. And in a matter of weeks, we’ll have a new studio album from Roger Waters (his first full studio rock effort since 1992’s great “Amused to Death”). And he’ll be touring again, too!
I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am for the new Waters album. I’m eager to hear what he has to say, and to immerse myself in the atmospheres of mood and music he weaves to help enforce his point.
In spirit of my day off, and of enjoying Pink Floyd’s music (and the music of its individual members), I feel like writing about some of my favorites. You in? Let’s get this going.
In honor of 50 years of Pink Floyd, I figured I’d talk about 50 favorites. I thought about doing 50 favorite songs, but that gets to be a lengthy list. And to be honest, I don’t know that I’ve ever given the kind of thought necessary to categorize 50 favorite songs.
So I broke things up into chunks, 5 categories of 10 favorites. More digestible, right?
In general, I hate to boil things down in terms of “favorites.” My favorites change so regularly, and can alter with my mood. I’m certain that’s true for most of you, too. So keep in mind these are my favorites, for now, as I post this. An hour from now, I’ll probably be wishing I’d chosen THIS instead of THAT, or put THIS higher than THAT.
Ah, the joys of music fandom …
10 favorite Pink Floyd songs
01. “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” This has been my favorite Pink Floyd song for decades. For me, it is the perfect encapsulation of nebulous-yet-somehow-direct lyrics with music that magically conjures wistful mournfulness, in a majestic and inspiring fashion. Superb in every way.
02. “Astronomy Domine.” I have listened to this song over and over again with headphones, and it transports me. The emotional and imaginative lift this song gives me is beyond my means of expression. It’s a heck of a way to kick off a debut album, too.
03. “The Final Cut.” What a lyric, what a story, what insight into Waters’ mind. “Just then the phone rang / I never had the nerve to make the final cut.” There’s such a heart-baring despair to this song, a directness and honesty that grabs me every single listen.
04. “Wish You Were Here.” I’m completely unable to play an instrument. But if I could play any song on guitar, this would be the one I’d want to learn to play. I love it. It feels timeless and ancient at the same time, and the lyrics are sheer poetry. Roger Waters’ lyrics and David Gilmour’s music pair beautifully.
05. “Apples and Oranges.” The least chart successful of the early Syd Barrett-penned Pink Floyd singles, but it’s definitely my favorite. It’s all over the place. Lots of winks and jokes (duck quacking), and a heck of a hook at the chorus. I love the lyric “I’m feeling very pink,” especially given that Barrett would soon be out of the band.
06. “Nobody Home.” Of all the great songs on “The Wall,” this one conjures the most visuals for me. It’s very descriptive, and sad. Isolation, loneliness, fear, doubt, self destruction. And the arrangement for this song lends the tune just the right amount of color to highlight the grays.
07. “Us and Them.” There are times when I feel so emotionally moved by this song that it’s hard to think about it. “After all / we’re only ordinary men.” Life, the priorities of it, who is in control of it, the disparity of it … There is so much to this song, it sounds incredible but forces us to confront difficult things (including mortality).
08. “Wots… Uh the Deal?” Such a beautiful song. And the older I get, the more it resonates with me. Note the references to growing old. Maybe it sounds a little self-absorbed, but I think it reflects the kind of analysis that we all turn upon ourselves at some point or another.
09. “Cymbaline.” Oh wow, what a song. (And you have to admire that the final couplet doesn’t rhyme, given the query earlier in the song.) I love the structure, the atmosphere, the nightmarish qualities that imbue this song and make it one of the overlooked classics of post-Barrett early Floyd.
10. “Matilda Mother” (album version). I think this is Syd Barrett’s perfect fairy tale. “Oh mother, tell me more.” Rick Wright’s lead vocals (with Syd) is impeccable. For me, this is one of the defining songs of the early Pink Floyd catalog, and I wish it got the same love as “See Emily Play.”
10 favorite Pink Floyd albums
I’ll give the caveat that my top three revolve into the top spot, sometimes by the minute. I love them all so equally that it’s pretty much a three-way tie for the top spot. Still, I’ll endeavor to pick a favorite for this post.
01. “The Final Cut.”
02. “Wish You Were Here.”
03. “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.”
04. “The Wall.”
06. “The Dark Side of the Moon.”
07. “Obscured by Clouds.”
10. “The Division Bell.”
10 favorite solo songs
01. “5:06 am (Every Stranger’s Eyes)” by Roger Waters.
02. “Amused to Death” by Roger Waters.
03. “Opel” by Syd Barrett.
04. “Dark Globe” by Syd Barrett.
05. “Smile” by David Gilmour.
06. “5:01 am (The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, Part 10)” by Roger Waters.
07. “It’s a Miracle” by Roger Waters.
08. “Dominoes” by Syd Barrett.
09. “Who Needs Information” by Roger Waters.
10. “Short and Sweet” by David Gilmour.
10 favorite solo studio albums
01. “Amused to Death” by Roger Waters.
02. “The Madcap Laughs” by Syd Barrett.
03. “On an Island” by David Gilmour.
04. “The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking” by Roger Waters.
05. “Radio K.A.O.S.” by Roger Waters.
06. “Barrett” by Syd Barrett.
07. “David Gilmour” by David Gilmour.
08. “Broken China” by Richard Wright.
09. “About Face” by David Gilmour.
10. “Rattle That Lock” by David Gilmour.
10 favorite unearthed audio gems from the “Early Years” box set
01. “Scream Thy Last Scream.”
02. “Vegetable Man.”
03. “In the Beechwoods.”
04. “Nightmare” (“Cymbaline”).
05. “Walk with Me Sydney.”
06. “Atom Heart Mother” (early studio version, band only).
07. “Nothing Part 14” (“Echoes” work in progress).
08. “Echoes” (live at Wembley 1974).
09. “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” (live at Pompeii).
10. “Let There Be More Light” (BBC Radio session).
And just for the fun of it … to whet the appetite for Waters’ upcoming album, here’s a YouTube video for “Deja Vu,” a thought-provoking track released earlier this month:
As always, I welcome your feedback and your picks in my comments. Which Pink Floyd songs are your favorites? Got a favorite album? Which solo catalog speaks the strongest to your heart?
Thanks for reading, folks. See you next time around!
ABOUT ROGER’S UPCOMING ALBUM
Title: “Is This the Life We Really Want?”
Release date: June 2, 2017.
Producer: Nigel Godrich (worked with Radiohead, produced Paul McCartney’s “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard”).
01. “When We Were Young”
02. “Deja Vu”
03. “The Last Refugee”
04. “Picture That”
05. “Broken Bones”
06. “Is This the Life We Really Want?”
07. “Bird in a Gale”
08. “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World”
09. “Smell the Roses”
10. “Wait for Her”
11. “Oceans Apart”
12. “A Part of Me Died”