The title itself is a pretty good clue. What band has an association with ‘Pink’?
And I can tell you that they’re one of the most respected rock bands of all time.
Come on guys, I’m talking about one of the best bands to ever play on this Earth, and they also created the second best-selling album of all time.
Fine, I’ll tell you now.
The lyrics are from the song ‘Have a Cigar’, from the album ‘Wish You Were Here’, by the band Pink Floyd. My favourite band, my favourite album, and while ‘Have a Cigar’ isn’t my favourite song, my favourite song is indeed on this album. In this series of favourite albums, I tried to create some variety by making sure the albums were from a different artist each time. If I hadn’t, then I think about three of them would be by Pink Floyd. However, I had to choose one, and so I chose the one that I enjoy listening to the most these days. If I’d made this list a year or two ago, I probably would’ve chosen ‘The Wall’, and before that, probably ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’. But nowadays, I definitely prefer ‘Wish You Were Here’.
I first discovered Pink Floyd when I was 16, and while I might’ve wished that I’d found them earlier, I don’t think I would love them as much as I do today if I had. Now, I’m gonna sound like a douchebag again, but I think I found them at the perfect age, because at that point I was mature enough to understand what they were talking about. A lot of the issues and opinions they brought up in their music majorly influenced my outlook on life (For the better), and they are some of the best lyricists and musicians I’ve ever heard. Their philosophies and opinions have helped me immensely through some tough periods in my life, and almost all their songs cause you to think about one issue or another, whether it be mental illness, death, loss, relationships, the music industry, war, beauty, or even a dog called Seamus.
This album is known as one of the big three Pink Floyd albums, along with ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ and ‘The Wall’, and it was released between the two in 1975. The main theme of this album is loss (Hence the title), however two of the songs deal with the pressures and corruption of the music industry. I personally think that this is Pink Floyd’s most introspective album, as it deals with the loss of their former band member, Syd Barrett, who suffered from severe mental illness and fell into a just as severe drug addiction. In fact, while they were recording this album, he visited their studio. They had no idea who this man was for a moment, he’d put on a lot of weight and had shaved his head. However, eventually they realised that it was Barrett, and in interviews they claim that this event affected them all deeply.
There’s a general consensus that the two pieces of a song, Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)’ and ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX)‘, are a tribute to Syd Barrett, and the two parts sandwich the other three songs on the album, acting as an intro and an outro. Put together, this song is 25 minutes long, and it’s an epic, atmospheric ride along David Gilmour’s out-of-this-world guitar pieces and Richard Wright’s peaceful, yet powerful, piano and synthesisers. Roger Waters doesn’t let up on the great bass lines either for ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX)’. These lyrics are the best example for how the band members felt about Barrett’s state of mind.
“Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond
Now there’s a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond”
Sandwiched between the two parts of that epic song are another three. ‘Welcome to the Machine’ (Just to warn you, the music video is both amazing and disturbing) is an angry, despairing piece about the music industry and being taken advantage by your employers in general. Waters compares the industry to a machine, with no humanity and no compassion. It’s a song we can all relate to, even if we haven’t worked in the music industry, because everyone’s been taken advantage of before. It’s also one of the strangest, brutal and most interesting (musically) songs I’ve ever heard, which is definitely achieved by the constantly pounding, machine-like, synthesisers in the background.
“Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.
What did you dream? It’s alright, we told you what to dream”
Next we come to another song about the corporate, inhuman nature of some characters in the music business, ‘Have a Cigar’. While it’s similar in premise to ‘Welcome to the Machine’, this song is written in a much more tongue-in-cheek style, and from the point of view of a band who’ve just sat down in a record label’s head office. This one is definitely driven by David Gilmour’s funk-rock guitar style, and punctuated by Richard Wright’s synthesisers that link to the previous track. A little trivia for you, this song doesn’t actually have vocals from the band in it. Neither David Gilmour nor Roger Waters could reach the notes required, and they didn’t want to try and end up damaging their voices. So they recruited the folk singer Roy Harper to perform on the album. The highlights of the song for me would be Gilmour’s guitar solo at the end, and the witty, biting lyrics of Roger Waters. Also, the lyric “Which one’s ‘Pink’?” is something a record label actually asked them.
“Well, I’ve always had a deep respect, and I mean that most sincerely.
The band is just fantastic, that is really what I think.
Oh by the way, which one’s ‘Pink’?”
And now we come to my favourite, which I may or may not have left ‘til last on purpose. ‘Wish You Were Here’ is one of the most beautiful, sorrowful songs I’ve ever heard. After the epic, sweeping ‘Shine on…’, the bitter, angry ‘Welcome…’ and the electric, sarcastic ‘Have a Cigar’, this simple, acoustic tribute is a perfect fit. Like ‘Shine on…’, it’s a tribute to their fallen band member, however it’s written in a style that’s more universal and general. This means that anyone will be able to relate to it, whether they’re grieving for someone, fallen out of touch with a friend, or far away from the one’s they love. With just three verses and no chorus it sometimes feels like it’s not long enough, but you begin to realise that it’s the perfect length for a song like that. It’s short and it’s sweet. For me, it’s perfect in every way, from the unconventional intro that simulates someone listening to a radio and playing along, to the whistling wind in the outro.
“How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here”
There you go, the last album in my series. I know I’ve given you the usual links to the songs on YouTube, but I I advise you to listen to the whole album at once, it’s whole different experience. I’m sorry there were a couple of delays in the uploads (including this one), but there were many factors causing this (my procrastination being the prime suspect). And I’m also sorry that this piece was a fair bit longer than the others, but it’s my favourite album, so I couldn’t help but waffle on about it. Expect some more content this week, and please comment if you have something to say.
Thanks for reading!