For five decades, the mesmerizing lyrics and the fluid tunes of Pink Floyd have ebbed and flowed through the hearts of listeners. The artistry, the poetry, of their music cannot be lost, as their message goes deeper and further than the time they were written in. They speak to us as humans, deep into our souls as the music floods our minds with images of what could be and what was.
Their music was more than the sound: it was a message to those blinded by the falsehoods we place upon ourselves in an effort to impose reality into the dreary dream we have been lulled into by the lies we are told and tell ourselves. I hope that in discovering more about Pink Floyd, you might come to understand something new about life, as I have, and are able to see more clearly the world around you.
The Band That Shaped an Era
Pink Floyd was a British band started in 1965 in London, during the fever of the British Invasion with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. The original band members were Syd Barrett on guitar, Nick Mason on drums, Roger Waters on bass, and Richard Wright on keyboard. Initially, they were met with meager success within the music underground within London, until the release of their first hit album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. In 1967, they added guitarist David Gilmour to the group.
Pink Floyd in 1967. Left to Right: Richard Wright, Roger Waters, Syd Barrett, and Nick Mason
In 1968, however, Syd Barrett's mental state began to erode away. His Schizophrenia had begun to affect his perception of reality, coupled with the hallucinogens LSD and LSA he had been taking. Eventually, he was admitted to a mental institution, where his grip on reality would tragically slip further and further away until he was a husk of a person. This had a profound effect on the band, and, as Waters took over the role of songwriter, they made many tributes to Syd within their major hit albums that would come in the next decade.
Pink Floyd post Syd Barrett. Left to Right: David Gilmour, Richard Wright, Roger Waters, Nick Mason.
Their first major album after Syd's mental breakdown was Dark Side of the Moon, one of the most iconic albums of all time, and, rightfully so, one of the most sold albums. It's lyrics pleaded with the listeners to open their minds in Breathe, to not let Time get away from them, to see the problems in chasing Money, and to understand what it is like to lose your mind in Brain Damage. The masterfully crafted album was about disillusionment and the opening of your perspective.
In 1975, two years after the release of Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd released it's tribute to Syd, Wish You Were Here. The heartfelt album hearkens back to when they were a younger group, writing songs with Syd and their first signing. Although the album was a relatively short one, 23 minutes in total, all of the songs are iconic, from the long, rock ballad of Shine on You Crazy Diamonds to the shorter, but as impactful Welcome to the Machine, Have a Cigar, and Wish You Were Here.
They continued to produce album after album of high acclaim, even as the band began to separate as members left over creative differences. After the release of The Wall, Richard Wright left the band in 1979. In 1985, the band's 20th year of existence, Roger Waters also left the band, leaving Gilmour and Mason as the remaining band members. During this time, Wright came back, originally as a session musician, and, later, as a full band member. The trio went on to release A Momentary Lapse of Reason in 1987, and in 1994, they released The Division Bell. The band would not release another album until their last, The Endless River, in 2014, which was largely a compilation of unreleased material from 1994.
In 2006, Syd Barrett passed away, and in 2008, Wright succumbed to his battle with lung cancer. The rest of the band members live on today.
The Songs That Shaped a Generation
Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
"For long you live and high you fly,
And smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry,
And all you touch and all you see,
Is all your life will ever be."
"And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking,
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death."
"Money, it's a crime:
Share it fairly but don't take a slice of my pie.
Money, so they say,
'Is the root of all evil today,'
But if you ask for a raise it's no surprise that they're giving none away."
"The lunatic is in the hall;
The lunatics are in my hall;
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor,
And every day the paper boy brings more.
"And if the dam breaks open many years too soon,
And if there is no room upon the hill,
And if your head explodes with dark forbodings too:
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon."
"All that is now,
All that is gone,
All that's to come,
And everything under the sun is in tune,
But the sun is eclipsed by the moon."
Wish You Were Here (1975)
Welcome to the Machine
"Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.
Where have you been? It's alright we know where you've been.
You've been in the pipeline, filling in time,
provided with toys and Scouting for Boys.
You bought a guitar to punish your ma,
And you didn't like school, and you know you're nobody's fool,
So welcome to the machine.
Have a Cigar
"Come in here, dear boy, have a cigar.
You're gonna go far, you're gonna fly high,
You're never gonna die, you're gonna make it if you try; they're gonna love you.
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?"
Wish You Were Here
"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."
"I gotta admit that I'm a little bit confused,
Sometimes it seems to me as if I'm just being used,.
Gotta stay awake, gotta try and shake off this creeping malaise.
If I don't stand my own ground, how can I find my way out of this maze?
Deaf, dumb, and blind, you just keep on pretending,
That everyone's expendable and no-one has a real friend,
And it seems to you the thing to do would be to isolate the winner,
And everything's done under the sun,
And you believe at heart, everyone's a killer."
Pigs (Three Different Ones)
Hey, you, Whitehouse, ha ha, charade you are,
You, house proud, town mouse, ha ha, charade you are,
You're trying to keep our feelings off the street,
You're nearly a real treat,
All tight lips and cold feet,
And do you feel abused?"
"What do you get for pretending the danger's not real,
Meek and obedient you follow the leader,
Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel,
What a surprise!
A look of terminal shock in your eyes,
Now things are really what they seem,
No, this is no bad dream."
The Wall (1979)
Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)
"We don't need no education,
We don't need no thought control,
No dark sarcasm in the classroom,
Teachers, leave them kids alone.
Hey, teacher, leave them kids alone.
All in all it's just another brick in the wall;
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.
Goodbye Blue Sky
"Did you see the frightened ones?
Did you hear the falling bombs?
Did you ever wonder,
Why we had to run for shelter,
When the promise of a brave new world,
Unfurled beneath a clear blue sky?"
"But it was only a fantasy,
The wall was too high as you can see,
No matter how he tried he could not break free,
And the worms ate into his brain.
Hey you! out there on the road,
Always doing what you're told, can you help me?
Hey you! out there beyond the wall,
Breaking bottles in the hall, can you help me?
Hey you! don't tell me there's no hope at all,
Together we stand, divided we fall."
"There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ship smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves,
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying.
When I was a child I had a fever,
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I've got that feeling once again,
I can't explain, you would not understand,
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb."
A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987)
The Dogs of War
"The dogs of war won't negotiate
The dogs of war don't capitulate,
They will take and you will give,
And you must die so that they may live
You can knock at any door,
But wherever you go, you know they've been there before.
Well winners can lose and things can get strained,
But whatever you change, you know the dogs remain.
One world, it's a battleground
One world, and we will smash it down
One world ... One world."
On The Turning Away
"No more turning away
From the weak and the weary,
No more turning away
From the coldness inside.
Just a world that we all must share;
It's not enough just to stand and stare;
Is it only a dream that there'll be
No more turning away?"
The Division Bell (1994)
What Do You Want From Me
"As you look around this room tonight,
Settle in your seat and dim the lights,
Do you want my blood, do you want my tears?
What do you want,
What do you want from me?
Should I sing until I can't sing any more,
Play these strings until my fingers are raw?
You're so hard to please.
What do you want from me?"
"Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us,
To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side.
Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again,
Dragged by the force of some inner tide.
At a higher altitude with flag unfurled,
We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world."
I hope you enjoyed this Take, and I hope you take the time to listen to some music that can make you think.