Friday, October 14, 2011
Friday Flashback - Pink Floyd
Lately, Pink Floyd has been everywhere, due to the release of their entire set of remastered works. Jimmy Fallon honored the band with a week's worth of Pink Floyd tunes, performed by various artists like MGMT and the Foo Fighters. NPR Music had an intern who had never heard Dark Side of the Moon (say what?) review it for their website. Dark Side of the Moon was on the cover of the recent Rolling Stone (its 2011!). Roger Waters went on tour with a full, life-size production of The Wall. And at the London stop of this tour, the unthinkable happened with David Gilmour and Roger Waters reuniting for Comfortably Numb.
With all this recent exposure, I'm reminded why Pink Floyd is one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time. They've been through many iterations to get to this point, with significant experiences contributing to their sound, weaving an intricate pattern of sounds and imagery for its listeners. Here are a few of those sounds to remind us all why they rock.
From: Wish You Were Here
Shine on You Crazy Diamond
Written by Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Richard Wright, this epic piece is said to be based on founding band member Syd Barrett, who left the band shortly after Gilmour's arrival in 1968. Syd's reported heavy LSD use and psychotic mental decline eventually led to bizarre behavior on and off stage, leading to his departure. The day Pink Floyd recorded this song in the studio in 1975, Syd showed up unexpected, but no one recognized him initially due to weight gain and the fact that he'd shaved off all his hair and eyebrows. This was supposedly the last time any of them ever saw Syd. Syd finally lived out his life with an attempt at removal from the public eye, until his death in 2006.
And, also off Wish You Were Here, just because it never, ever, ever gets old:
Wish You Were Here
From The Wall:
Roger Waters conceived of The Wall after a difficult tour, where Waters frequently felt separated (as if by a wall) from the audience. The album was created in addition to the film The Wall, which addresses various themes such as abandonment, authority issues, and mental anguish- themes not unfamiliar to the band in real life. Roger Waters' own father passed in WWII and in the movie The Wall, the main character (Pink, played by Bob Geldof) starts off as a boy who's father's death in the war provides him with feelings of abandonment (as actually happened to Roger Waters). Growing up alone and antagonized in the company of other authority figures, Pink slowly continues to build his metaphorical wall. He becomes a troubled rock star and the final building of the wall is accelerated. All of this only further serves to contribute to his seemingly growing loss of a grip on reality. Many themes from this album and movie ran parallel to real life with Pink Floyd's relationship to Syd Barrett, who experienced a similar mental fate.
The movie The Wall is overflowing with intense imagery, using animation and psychedelic ambiance. There is no script, per se- the entire movie's sound is the album The Wall from start to finish.
Goodbye Blue Sky
Another Brick in the Wall Part 1
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Perhaps Pink Floyd's most epic album, its hard to pick single tracks to highlight, since the album as a whole it like one giant song. Not the first and not the last of the concept album genre, but certainly one of the most profound and popular. Drunk and high college students everywhere have been exposed to Pink Floyd and Dark Side of the Moon because of the rumor that it syncs up with The Wizard of Oz. If you haven't seen it, it is quite creepy, but band members have maintained its all a coincidence. But judge for yourself HERE.
In any case, as with most Pink Floyd albums, there are recurring themes throughout- varying stresses, money/greed, life and death, and once again- a breakdown of the mind. And some serious wailing by a female vocalist (Clare Torry) on The Great Gig in The Sky.
The Great Gig in the Sky
And one of the greatest endings to any album ever:
From: A Momentary Lapse of Reason
Normally, when bands begin to fragment and members begin going their own ways- particularly a figure like Roger Waters- the band begins a slow decline. Especially when departures are as contentious as they were here. But despite the absence of Roger Waters post-1986, Pink Floyd as a band continued. Without Rogers the bands sound changed, but one could argue it simply continued. The anthematic and soaring sounds of latter Pink Floyd albums are what one could imagine the evolution of what the Pink Floyd sound would become.
On The Turning Away
From: Division Bell
Take It Back
Buy the Pulse DVD here: Pink Floyd
More on the Pink Floyd reissues HERE