Pink Floyd’s 30 best songs

David Gilmour, Nick Mason and famous fans pick the greatest Floyd tracks

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6 Wish You Were Here
From Wish You Were Here (September 1975)
Waters’ bleak vision of incipient middle age and failing marriage would prove strangely popular with buskers…

Phil Manzanera, Roxy Music: I saw Floyd in the early days, at the Albert Hall with Hendrix, Amen Corner and The Move. It was the most amazing package tour. I was 16 or 17 and it was incredibly exciting. Floyd, particularly the atmospheric and textural stuff, were a huge influence on my own guitar-playing with Roxy.


Like a lot of people, I’ve heard all the tracks, but had never tried playing them. So when David [Gilmour] asked me to go on tour with him, I had to create a guitar sound that was as close as possible to the originals. And of course, every backpacker from here to Timbuktu knows how to play “Wish You Were Here”, but not me! So I had to learn it from scratch, which was hilarious. It’s one of their most well-known numbers and I spent the whole tour learning how to play it properly.

That riff is like the other great riffs, like “Shine On you Crazy Diamond”. The minute you hear it, you know what it is. Halfway through the tour, I told David it was getting so embarrassing. So I went into his kitchen and said, “For fuck’s sake, show me exactly how you play it!” I think on the very last gig, which is the live version that’s coming out, I do finally get it right! When you’re playing those songs, you marvel at the simplicity of it all, yet it’s totally self-contained. It’s quite minimalist, so each part is distinctive.


5 Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)
From The Wall; released as single Dec 1979. Highest UK chart position: 1
School brutality set to a midtempo disco beat. Their first hit single since 1967.

Ice Cube: It was a big hit, it was getting a lot of airplay at the time, even on black stations. It’s a seriously funky track, it’s got a tight drum beat and a killer bassline. I remember we used to march around the playground singing the lyrics from this song. “We don’t need no education/we don’t need no thought control… Hey teacher! Leave them kids alone!” Ha! When you’re a kid at school, of course you’re going to love a lyric like that! The idea that we’re all just bricks in the wall, just identikit packages that the system requires. That’s the shit. It’s real. And it’s true. It’s still true now.



4 Arnold Layne
Released as a single, March 1967. Highest UK chart position: 20
Not your standard debut single, or debut hit – Syd’s lyrics tell of the arrest and imprisonment of a ladies’ underwear fetishist…

Joe Boyd, co-UFO Club founder and producer “Arnold Layne”: In the studio, Syd was a quiet leader. Roger was more vocal, but everyone deferred to Syd’s opinion. He sat at the back and kept quiet most of the time, but everyone listened when he spoke. The sessions were easy and fun: record one night, mix the next. I don’t recall any conflict. Roger had an ego, Syd did, too, but was more diffident and oblique. The early Floyd songs are pretty European and blue-note free. David Bowie has been quoted as saying that Syd taught him how to sing like an ordinary Englishman – no blues, no mockney accent. I think their un-Americanness is the key to Floyd’s strength over the years.

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