After David Bowie we take a look at the progressive, artistic Pink Floyd. The Pink Floyd’s most severe critics say the band had never reached such heights as with The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, released in 1967. The same critics clearly explain this by Syd Barrett’s quit of the band. In fact the singer, guitarist and songwriter Barrett had the greatest impact on the early psychedelic-rock era of Pink Floyd, but the band members also agree that in the future it has became virtually impossible to work with the creative genius.
The former Pink Floyd’s producer, Richard Buskin, recalled the first time in 1967, that that Barrett’s serious problems were detected: he had a nervous breakdown in the middle of a recording session, and then he simply left the band. Later, he once returned to the studio – as a bald, outweigh, utterly lost, speechless figure, whom the teammates did not recognize at first – exactly when the members of the band fixed the recording Shine On Your Crazy Diamond, which they wrote in honor of him.
It is quite common to discover an experience that is hard to define when you stumble upon Pink Floyd’s music, films or illustrations. There is something in this legendary band that captures the spectator’s curiosity. George A. Reisch decided to dig into this phenomenon and find out what it is that makes Pink Floyd such a captivating band. In his book Pink Floyd and Philosophy Careful with that Axiom, Eugene!
Reich compiles academic papers from 18 American scholars who explore the band’s music, illustrations, as well as their journey through multidisciplinary analysis. Though most of the papers focus on philosophy, there are some that provide literary, sociological, and musical perspective.
Pink Floyd formed out from a band founded in 1964, which often changed its name: Sigma 6, The Meggadeaths, The Screaming Abdabs and The Abdabs. After the elimination of the band some members – guitarist Bob Klose, bassist Roger Waters, drummer Nick Mason and keyboardist Rick Wright who played on wind instruments this time- formed a new band called Tea Set.
Syd Barrett joined them shortly after their formation, who became the band’s singer and guitarist. When another band also wanted to perfrom with the same name, Barrett named the band The Pink Floyd Sound (after two blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council). They used both names for a while, but in the end the new won. They left the Sound pretty quickly, but the The remained in use until 1969, the year of the appearance of the soundtrack of the movie “More”.
They flourished in the seventies; if nothing else, their album The Wall is surely known by everyone, which was born at the end of the decade. After bassist-singer (and their main composer at the same time) Roger Waters left the band in the mid-eighties, only two studio albums have occurred , none of which is among the team’s classic albums. In addition, since the release of The Division Bell (which release exactly two decades have passed !)
The band’s first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn appeared in August 1967. Then, David Gilmour joined them, who knew Syd Barrett from Cambridge, where they learned together. In 1968 he will be the lead guitarist, after Syd’s mental illness is amplified by drugs, especially LSD. His leaving left a dearth feeling in the others, who later intended an entire album to his honor.
Syd also benefited from the international success of Pink Floyd, after they regularly referred money to him. Syd Barrett lived sickly in retirement in his Cambridge house from the early seventies until his death.
According to my opinion, these are the best six songs of the Pink Floyd:
6. Comfortably Numb
The lyrics of Comfortably Numb evokes the inertia state of the hero: the verses -sung by Waters-, match the doctor’s words that takes care of him, while the chorus -sung by Gilmour- expresses the confused thoughts and visions of Pink.
While some believe that the song refers to drugs, Roger Waters states that this is not the case. The lyrics are about the feelings he experienced as a child, when he was sick.
David Gilmour said that the song is divided into two sections, the “black” section and the “white” section. The white section is the part with the refrains sung by Gilmour, and the black section is that of the couplets sung by Waters.
5. Remember a Day
“Remember a day before today
A day when you were young.”
This song wakes up feelings of nostalgia, as the title also reveals. We often fantasize about the innocence and the freedom of our childhood. It is hard to process the constant change of life: when we would start to get used to something, we already came to the next, and we have to throw away the old one.
This is especially true for our age, when the technical development requires us to always be up to date, and we lose the personal contact to things due to the short-term quality given by mass production. Things got accelerated in modern society, thus leaving us less time for reflection, meditation and introspection. Somewhere I feel in this song a longing towards an imaginary (or real?) golden age in the past, where children were free to play, people were free to live.
4. Another Brick in the Wall
Another Brick in the Wall is a protest song, which denounces the rigid rules of school in general, in particular boarding schools, with the phrase “We don’t need no education“.
It reflects the vision of Roger Waters on formal education; he hated his professors and thought that they were more interested in enforcing the discipline than that of transmitting the knowledge to students. Here, the expression “another brick in the wall” refers to the image of the teacher, who is seen as one of the triggers of the mental isolation of Pink, the hero of the story told in the album.
In 1980 in South Africa the song was adopted as a protest anthem by black students struggling against apartheid that then prevailed in the country’s schools, and was therefore officially banned by the South African Government on 2 May in the same year with the accusation of incitement to riot.
“The potential that human beings have for recognizing each other’s humanity and responding to it, with empathy rather than antipathy”, described Roger Waters the meaning of this song.“
This is considered the first big Pink Floyd song in their progressive rock era, and is considered the preview to Dark Side of the Moon. It is about humans and how amazing it is the way they react to each other.
2. Shine on You Crazy Diamond
The song was conceived and written as a tribute and remembrance to their former band member Syd Barrett. On June 5, 1975, while the vocals were recorded for the Shine on You Crazy Diamond Syd Barrett came into the studio.
He came without an invitation, he was bald (he shaved his eyebrows too) and fat, yet the band did not recognize him. Jerry Shirley thought she was a Krishna devotee. The others almost cried; Waters later confided that he burst into tears. They played him a song (Mason said he does not remember which one), but once they finished, Barrett said nothing.
When someone asked them to play it again, Barrett simply said: why would they play it, as it has just been heard. Then they also played Wish You Were Here and they asked Barrett what he thinks about the song. He said it sounds a bit old. Barrett asked how can he help the others because he had a lot of time.
Previously they have not seen him for five years and they never met him. As a result of the visit Wright played a version of the chorus of See Emily Play in the last seconds of the album.
1. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
Syd Barrett played “a tiny part” in the song. Accordingly this is the only Pink Floyd song where all the five members play.
Roger Waters told in Bruno McDonald’s book “Pink Floyd -Through the Eyes of…” that a few lines of the song’s text were taken from a book about the Chinese poetry from the time of the Tang Dynasty (as it turned out later, the book was the Poems of the late T’ang by A.C. Graham).
Waters took the line „witness the man who raged at the wall as he wrote his question to heaven” from the poem „Don’t Go Out of the Door” of Li He. The lines „watch little by little the night turn around”, „countless the twigs which tremble in dawn” and „one inch of love is an inch of ashes” originate from the poems of Li Shangyin.
We have arrived to the end of this article about this amazing band. Thank you for staying with us. This one is the fourth in our legendary rock bands series. If you enjoyed this article, you may also like the other ones in the selection, including The Kinks, The Doors, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. Have a good time!