Pink Floyd – one of music’s most successful acts – they have sold over 200 million albums around the world. They are considered to be a British progressive rock band, gaining early recognition for their psychedelic or space rock music. This is a list of their ten greatest songs.
On the Turning Away
David Gilmour/Anthony Moore
In 1985, Roger Waters left Pink Floyd and declared the band dead. Two years later, David Gilmour and Nick Mason released A Momentary Lapse of Reason and proved him wrong. Although the album is arguably worse than anything else in the Floyd catalog, the songs “Learning to Fly”, “On the Turning Away”, and “Sorrow” stand as some of the best of the post-Waters Floyd. This performance is from the Pink Floyd concert film Delicate Sound of Thunder.
Us and Them
Roger Waters/Richard Wright
Richard Wright’s mesmerizing keyboard work and Roger Waters’ though-provoking lyrics both shape this great song from the Floyd’s greatest hit, Dark Side of the Moon. The melody was originally born from the Pink Floyd recording sessions for the film Zabriskie Point, but the film’s director rejected it. This performance is from Roger Waters’ Live Earth performance.
Syd Barrett’s music, both with Pink Floyd and as a solo artist, is characterized by entrancing and often surreal lyrics. “The Gnome” from Pink Floyd’s debut album Piper at the Gates of Dawn is no different. “The Gnome” is a Tolkinsian tale about a little man who enjoys drinking wine and sleeping. This is the album version with random footage of the late Syd Barrett.
Atom Heart Mother
Ron Geesin/David Gilmour/Nick Mason/Richard Wright/Roger Waters
Atom Heart Mother is a very eclectic album featuring a very avant-garde symphony/rock suite, three songs by Roger Waters, Richard Wright, and David Gilmour respectively, and “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast”. The title track is the second-longest song the Floyd have ever recorded, clocking in at 23 minutes and 44 seconds. This performance is from the Bath Festival in June 1970.
Fat Old Sun
“Fat Old Sun” remains one of David Gilmour’s best songwriting efforts. This performance is from the DVD David Gilmour in Concert.
During the recording of Saucerful of Secrets, Syd Barrett became more and more disconnected from his bandmates and the world in general. Every theory on Syd’s mental breakout has been posited, from LSD to drugs and epilepsy. This song is seen by many as a self-assessment by Barrett. Barrett was dropped from the band soon after, replaced with his friend David Gilmour.
David Gilmour/Nick Mason/Roger Waters/Richard Wright
Another of Pink Floyd’s “epics”, “Echoes” pushed the space-rock tendencies of Pink Floyd to their max. The “whale” sound effects would later be recycled into “Is There Anybody Out There?” from The Wall. This performance is from David Gilmour’s live DVD Remember That Night.
Roger Waters/David Gilmour
Animals, while not as well known as Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, is every bit as good as its brothers. This album introduced the pig, who’d be present at every subsequent PF tour. This version is from Roger Waters’ live DVD In the Flesh Live.
Shine on You Crazy Diamond
David Gilmour/Richard Wright/Roger Waters
Shine on You Crazy Diamond is the Pink Floyd’s tribute to their fallen leader, Syd Barrett. The nine-part, 26-minute song is perhaps the greatest collaboration of Gilmour, Waters, and Wright. This performance is from the Pink Floyd DVD Pulse.
Wish You Were Here
Roger Waters/David Gilmour
This short, acoustic, poignant song by Roger Waters and David Gilmour lends its name to the album, which also features “Shine On”, “Welcome to the Machine”, and “Have a Cigar”. This performance is from Live 8, which was a moving time for Floydians everywhere. After 20 years of animosity, Roger Waters and his former bandmates finally shared a stage together.