Imagine if you will being an English band in the 60’s and it’s the height of the British Invasion. You are not even a widely popular band in England but America is so hungry for British bands that you see yourself as being like the Rolling Stones. It could happen. If you can make it in the United States you can make it anywhere, your career is set. So you are excited and you are thrilled when your first appearance is on an American television show. They treat you so well and everyone is so nice you can have anything that you want. Finally its time to tape the show. You take your positions instruments in hand and the director explains what is going to happen. He says ready action and you start playing except your guitarist, singer, your front man the one you are depending on to get the girls screaming with that dark curly hair and those sultry eyes freezes, literally like a statue. Cut the director shouts and he goes through all the directions again and your singer says yea we got it of course we are totally ready. And action, and he freezes and this continues for a couple of more attempts and then they are done with you and its all over before you ever got started. Back to England you go and no one even your singer really knows what happened.
Back in England you get back to work but you find things are different. Something is wrong with your singer and you urge him to stop with the drugs. Some nights you go on and everything is fine but some nights you go on and you play one song and he sings another, or he plays a different song than the one you are playing. You hire a friend of the band to be ready to play if your singer can’t which seems to happen with greater frequency until one day without telling him you just stop swinging by to pick him up and you move on sadly because he is your mate, your friend your collaborator your front man.
The story of Syd Barrett is tragic and always makes me a little sad but truthfully the day they left him behind they got better as a band exponentially. There are a lot of Syd Barrett stories but my favorite is when Pink Floyd were recording the song Shine On, a song about Barrett they arrived to find this strange man sitting in the studio, shaved head and heavy set it took them a moment to realize it was Barrett. They all laughed and slapped him on the back the way that friends do and then he quietly got up and left never having said a word even to acknowledge how he got there or why. It was odd too like he knew they were recording a song about him.
If you are my age then you know them well. Most people love them and a lot of people are quite fanatical about them. Depending on who you talk to they may have recorded the greatest album of all time in Dark Side of the Moon. Most everyone loves it, and yes that means me too but its really so unique that I put the album in some sort of special category all its own. There were two albums where I grew up during the 70s that everyone just had to have. It might be different in your region but at least for me when I look back Frampton Comes Alive and Pink Floyd’s The Wall were albums everyone had. I had them both and it seemed like whenever you got in someone’s car they had The Wall in their repertoire. We heard the song Money on the radio a lot but outside of that I didn’t know Dark Side of the Moon well until after college. I am not a Roger Waters fan either so The Wall is an okay album for me but I don’t love it. There are three Pink Floyd albums I put above all others in the Pink Floyd collection and I will talk about them but not in the order they were released.
I was in my room one day doing something, probably building a model airplane and listening to the radio when I heard about Pink Floyd releasing an album. Up until that time I had probably heard the song Money but not really registered who it was as I was a lot more interested in Chicago and Elton John. Pink Floyd was releasing an album and I didn’t care except they were also releasing a giant inflated pig to mark it. I wasn’t really of an age to understand that balloons were going to come down eventually so everyday I went outside and scanned the sky looking for that pig. The album released was Animals. It was one f the first albums I ever owned on 8 track. Yea yea I am that fricking old. I later owned it on cassette and on CD and now on vinyl. I love that album and it has my favorite Floyd song, Pigs (Three Different Ones). There are only four songs on that album. I love all of them but Pigs (Three Different Ones) is just an anthem like song to me. I used to have this wonderful collie and he would go nuts when the song Dogs would play because he would hear the barking. No other dog has ever done that.
In 2001 I began working in cube land working short term disability claims which I was very good at because of all my medical expertise and experience. To help me get through the day I bought a small CD player/radio and one of the CDs that I began to listen to regularly at work was A Momentary Lapse of Reason. I fell in love with this album and partly because there is no Roger Waters who I really dislike. Its almost a haunting album to me and its mostly because that’s the way I find David Gilmour’s vocals. I have really loved Gilmour since I heard his 1978 solo album which featured the song There’s No Way Out of Here, still a favorite for me. He is an amazing guitarist and I love to listen to him play. That album, A Momentary Lapse of Reason has the song On the Turning Away and when it plays I stop whatever I am doing. It just hits me that way, makes me stop and listen. That entire album just works for me.
The third album I fell in love with I already had and had heard a hundred times. Maybe one day I listened to it and just heard it differently than before, but Wish You Were Here became such a great album to me when I moved to Atlanta in December of 2006. I didn’t discover the album then I had heard it many times before and I loved the song Wish You Were Here, especially Gilmour’s guitar work and those great vocals. It made me feel closer to my son who was still living back in Texas. Shine on (You Crazy Diamond) the aforementioned Barrett tribute song is also a wonderful song.
I am betting that if you had to guess those would not have been your choices for Pink Floyd’s most cherished albums but then it’s a blog about my music collection and I never do anything just to go with the crowd. I am also not one of those people who sit around dreaming that one day Pink Floyd will get back together. Quite honestly, I just don’t care. There are not many bands I sit around and long for them to get back together and the ones I do are probably bands you don’t care about.
That’s the way it goes.