The giants of progressive rock, Pink Floyd’s eight studio album is the epic ‘Wish you were here’. Released in 1975, the album is a criticism of the music business and also pays tribute to the band’s founder and former member Syd Barret. It featured all the remaining members, Roger Waters on bass and vocals, David Gilmour on lead and vocals, Richard Wright on keys and Nick Mason on drums. The cover image, by Storm Thorgerson who also suggested the title name, shows 2 men shaking hands, with one of them on fire, an indication of ‘being burned’ usually by the system or the oppressive music industry. ‘Wish you were here’ is also Roger’s poem on Syd’s fall from reality. Syd was reportedly on such a drug roll that he would even lace his coffee with LSD leading to his mental breakdown.
The album also has Pink Floyd primary songwriters Roger Waters and David Gilmour mutually collaborating on a song, a rarity as the two geniuses hardly ever agreed with each other. Wish You Were Here received mixed reviews from critics on its release. Though it was panned initially but later on received critical acclaim. It is regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time and has sold an estimated 13 million copies.
It is also keyboardist Richard Wright and guitarist David Gilmour’s favourite Pink Floyd album. The album reached number one in the US and UK.
It also one of the favourite albums of Bandra cowboy and senior music journalist Narendra Kusnur. I am a huge Pink Floyd fan but the ‘Dark side of the moon’ album happens to be my favourite. So I had to call my fellow cowboy to have an album talk.
Note: Language maybe altered to suit the platform’s requirements.
Me – Howdy cowboy, Borivali cowboy this side. Thought of talking to you about your favourite Pink Floyd album, ‘Wish you were here’.
Kusnur – You are right, it is my favourite album. Though there is a toss-up between ‘Wish you were here’, ‘Dark side of the moon’ and ‘Animals’.
Me – Dark side is the best I think.
Kusnur – Well it is a pioneering album no doubt.
Me – This album was a sequel to Dark side. People will think why we chose ‘Wish you were here’ and not ‘Dark side of the moon’.
Kusnur – Obviously. Dark side is more popular, sold more and is a legendary album. ‘Wish you were here’ has fewer songs. Technically only 4 as ‘Shine on you crazy diamond’ is split into 2 parts.
Me – Roger wanted it in one part. Imagine a 25 and a half minute long song!!!
Kusnur – Ya. The idea was to do something like ‘Echoes’ and fill up one side but somehow they decided against it.
Me – In the first part the vocals start at 9.56.
Kusnur – That sounds like a local train.
(roaring laughter for 2 minutes)
Kusnur – The song starts with David’s guitar on the legendary tune which became a theme.
Me – I had given a copy of the album to an ex and after listening to it for 5 minutes she called saying what kind of music is this *facepalm*
Kusnur – Well you lost a girl in the process.
Me – It was good riddance as she would always force me to listen to Michael learns to rock.
Kusnur – Then it is ok.
The conversation drifts to other Pink Floyd albums like The Wall, Division Bell and others. The beauty of Pink Floyd is that you cannot stick to one album. Coming back to life errr
Me – Welcome to the machine. Everyone knows what the song is about. It was actually about Syd going away.
Kusnur – The whole synthesiser part in the song is amazing. Richard Wright did a fantastic job. Usually synth players don’t get much limelight as the vocalists and guitars hog it. Same with Pink Floyd. The other song, ‘Have a cigar’ features Roy Harper. There are some interesting stories about the song. Initially Waters was supposed to sing it but wasn’t convinced with his vocals, he asked David to sing but he couldn’t identify himself with the lyrics.
Me – They always objected to each other’s works.
Kusnur – Yup. Roy was recording his album in a nearby studio so they asked him to come over and sing the lines.
Me – Even the visuals in the video are very gothic complete with a rotting skull and dead mice. I could relate to it them only after understanding the lyrics which are about the sufferings of the artist.
The title song – a dedication by Pink Floyd
Me – It is about Syd
Kusnur – Ya. There are various stories about it. It is said Syd came to the studio while they were recording the song.
Me – Didn’t he come during ‘Shine on you crazy diamond’s’ recording, I heard that part.
Kusnur – There are various versions, but it seems they didn’t recognise Syd as he had put on lot of weight and lost hair. David was to marry his wife, Ginger, in the studio. They had arranged a party and Syd was invited. He walked out midway as he didn’t identify with the song. One more story is that legendary violinists Yehudi Menuhin and Stephane Grappelli were recording in the same studio. They asked Grappelli to record with them. They paid him his dues but didn’t credit him.
Me – The album was a sequel.
Kusnur – ‘Have a cigar’ and ‘Welcome to the machine’ are said to be sequels to ‘Money’.
Me – ‘Money’ is a disaster (language changed).
Kusnur – It is a good song to initiate a person into Floyd.
Me – I think it would be ‘Coming back to life’ which is proper pop.
Kusnur – See all bands want to experiment.
The call didn’t end there but the things spoken after this point are… well… unmentionable here.