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Greatest R&R Songwriters Part 3:
Waters/Gilmour

Now we're getting somewhere. I have enough nominations to make an actual poll, which I will do later on. Which doesn't mean you can't still nominate, because you can. I think I'll spend most of the morning (on a mini vacation until Monday) writing a few posts (and repeating a few posts) about some of the nominees.

Roger Waters got a few nominations and I did happen to mention Pink Floyd in this post yesterday (though my son was listening to The Wall at the time, DSOTM has been an overall favorite of his lately). The following is a repeat of my ode to DSOTM, followed by my reason for including both Waters and Gilmour in this poll.

floyd2.gifI was only eleven when DSOTM was released, so I didn't pick up on it until a couple of years later when rummaging through an older cousin's albums. Even then, I just listened to Money because I liked the cash register sounds. Oh yes, I also liked to say the bullshit line real loud because I was under the impression that if you were singing a song, cursing didn't count and God couldn't smite you.

I picked the album up again in high school and it immediately became the soundtrack to our smoke-filled, hazy nights. We sat around debating the whole concept of the record. We had theories and guesses and every lyric was a metaphor for life and death and all the crap that comes in between.

Mary (whose car, a big white boat of a vehicle, was named Floyd) had an egg-shaped chair in her basement that had speakers built into it. Sort of a pre-cursor to today's surround sound, but with an embryonic feel to it. So I would sit there in this womb of a chair, Dark Side playing over and over, the tightly rolled joints and whatever other illicit substances we came up with for the night being passed around and I drifted off into other worlds, worlds where - in the folly of my youth - only Pink Floyd and some nice Panama Red could take me.

I miss listening to music on vinyl because I miss those anticipatory scratches and pops that emitted from the speakers when you first put the needle down.

Crackle. Hiss. Scratch.

Breathe, breathe in the air...

And thus began my journey. Every song held the secret key to life. Every lyric was profound.

Speak to me/Breathe was sort of a desolate song. The words that seemed so deep and meaningful under the cloud of smoke were rather succintly summed up better by the Godfathers many years later: Birth, School, Work, Death.

In fact, the whole album could be summed up in those four words. But unlike my obsession with other bands of the time, Pink Floyd was more than the sum of their poetry. It was the music. My fling with the Doors was based on the words of Jim Morrison; I really didn't care for the music at all. Waters and company changed that. It was the sheer art of the music that lifted me out of that egg chair and into other planes.

The brooding melody of Us and Them often made me feel as if I were drowning in sorrow, as if it were a funeral dirge.

The slow, haunting tune of Brain Damage, the eventual build up of sounds in Eclipse and the feeling as if you had been dropped off of a cliff when the album ended and the pops and scratches faded to black as the needle picked itself up off of the vinyl.

Again, one of us would whisper, and the needle would drop once more and all would be quiet while we each took our own personal musical journeys through the Dark Side of the Moon.

30 years later and the album still holds up well, better than some 30 year old people I know. The lyrics are still relevant, the music is still at once disquieting and soothing, alternating in waves of musical madness that could certainly form the soundtrack to anyone's journey through birth, school, work and death.

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I have to add here that I think the Roger Waters solo stuff (and the latter stages Pink Floyd music) is horrid.

But from 1973 to 1979, Waters was partly responsible - along with David Gilmour for putting together a string of four amazing albums (DSOTM, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall) without a bad one between them and that's a major feat in the music world.

So I add Roger Waters and David Gilmour - as a tandem even though Waters was nominated solo three times and even though they broke up, bitterly I might add - to the final list of greatest songwriters. Without Gilmour, there is no Wish You Were Here which is, arguably, the most often sung Pink Floyd song. Especially if you happen to frequent social gatherings where people tend to drink, reminisce and break out into spontaneous bits of song. Also, on The Wall, Waters may have written most of the songs, but Gilmour co-wrote the best song, Comfortably Numb.

You can add your own here.

Comments

As much as I loved DSOTM...our band of Merry Prankster wanna-bes was much more into Animals after it came out. I guess we were a more cynical lot...all of us chiming in on

"Haha, charade you arrrre."

Wow...do you ever look back on the 70s and wonder how the hell we survived it, or do you think we survived it because of what we were doing?

Not to mention Gilmour's guitar solo on Comfortably Numb is one of the best and underrated guitar solos ever.

Gilmour is one of the most distinctive and skilled guitarists the world will ever know. Most guitarists sound the same to me. He's one of perhaps three guitarists that I can recognize without any trouble.

And DSOTM is one of a handful of albums that I can listen to all the way through without any desire to skip ahead. Can't say the same for The Wall.

DSOTM one of my favorite cuts is "Great Gig in the Sky". Gets my vote for most beautiful agonized screaming ever.

You Cowboy Bebop fans probably recognized the rip off of "On the Run" in the episode about the crazed assassin. I wish there was a way to dub the original in, or that the Bebop folks had been able to acquire licensing.

On the other hand, I hate "Money." When I copied the vinyl to tape, it's the only track I left off. Ditto when I ripped the CD to OGG. Nope, not apologizing for that. The band made a good chunk of their millions off that song, and accordingly, it's in very bad taste.

I'm also very fond of Meddle. It's uneven, not all the cuts are great, but the ones that are, are some of my favorites. It was also the sound track for their movie at Pompeii, which I saw in the theatre in a vastly altered state of consciousness and was totally blown away by. And, damn, but that bitch can sing, can't she?

Damn fine essay on DSOTM...

I can remember my mom buying me a Pink Floyd shirt when I was about nine. I had never heard of the group, and I was quite annoyed that all the kids at school made fun of the shirt and called me "pinky."

Later, when The Wall was released, I was even more annoyed at everyone walking around screaming the obligatory line..."Hey Teachers...!"

Sadly, it wasn't until I was about 25 that I really discovered the other albums...and that was only because I heard "Time" on the radio and thought it was summing my life up completely...Imagine my surprise when I found out it was PF. I immediately bought DSOTM and wouldn't listen to anything else for days.

Anyway...I'm somewhat glad I discovered PF later in life...I appreciate their music a hell of alot more than I would have during my teen years...and anytime I'm in a discussion about the best album of all time and some loser throws Thriller in my face...I school them on the fact that DSOTM spent over 700 weeks on the charts.

I have always liked Wish You Were Here the best, followed by DSOTM & Animals. If you really want to hear a different take on PF listen to 'Dub side of the Moon' by the Easy Star All Stars. It's a song for song raggae tribute. Everyone who I have played it for eats it up.

Funny how nobody ever talks about "Atom Heart Mother"....

I feel it is a shame that Waters´ misanthropy and pessimism finally overwhelmed the band. The warmth and humanity of their music began to fade away with Animals (still a great album, mostly thanks to Gilmour´s energetic contribution. And because it was my first).

The Wall contains some fine music, but the whining and self-pity is just too much for me. They never recovered, in my opinion.

If there was one album I'd want our band to cover, from beginning to end, DSOTM would be it. For all the reasons you listed.

We cover several from it, Money, Time, Us and Them.

Side note: for a little white girl, Claire Torrey knocked my socks off with her vocals. She really made that album work.

Gilmour.. you know, it's not that he's the most talented guitarist of all time or anything, but his style is so distinctive - and so right for what they did.

I don't want to bring anyone down, but my 25 year old son died last week and he told his 27 year old brother that when he died he wanted "Outside the Wall" to be played at his funeral - it was. Freaked out all the Presbyterians.