24 Chapter 24
From The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (August 1967)
A whimsical reading of the I Ching, in which “action brings good fortune” and reality dissolves into beatific harmonic clusters.
John “Hoppy” Hopkins, co-founder UFO Club and The International Times: “Chapter 24” is spiritual with a cyclical narrative and great melody: Syd at his ecstatic best. And it’s the only inspired musical rendition of the core of I Ching. It moves my heart. I remember going through Piper… number by number and trying to work out which vector each tune lay on between being serious and being out of your mind on acid. There were so many different dimensions.
In the early days, when we were starting up the UFO Club, I’d see them weekly. I was able to watch it all build. When we started at the London Free School before UFO [September 1966], I saw the Floyd play and there was just a handful of people watching. But it built very fast and kept building. The Floyd were the core of that whole movement, like a strange attractor for people. There was something about their improvisation that hovered on the boundary, not between sound and noise, but between melody and no melody.
23 BRAIN DAMAGE
From Dark Side Of The Moon
A paranoiac’s view of care in the community, as the album inexorably approaches its ‘we’re-all-quite-mad-you-know’ conclusion.
Jarvis Cocker: I first heard Dark Side… when we used to have a babysitter come around. She used to play it and it absolutely terrified me: all those lyrics in “Brain Damage”, like “The lunatic is on the grass” and “Got to keep the loonies on the path.” When I heard that coming up through the floorboards it scared me to death. The weird thing about the record was that, until I bought it, I’d never heard the whole album. What had happened was that she’d bought it and someone had sat on the lid of her parents’ radiogram while it was in there and it had snapped off the outer edge of the record. So she couldn’t play the first tracks on either side. It wasn’t until I bought it that I heard stuff like “Speak To Me” and “Breathe”.
But everything about that record seemed very profound. In the intervening years, I came to realise that wasn’t the case. In fact, it was a bit sixth form in its lyrics, which I think even Roger Waters admitted. But it was also the fact you bought the album and you got two posters with it. The pyramid one was mainly blue, but then there were pink dots floating around, which I thought were actually Pink Floyd. It all seemed very meaningful.
22 High Hopes
From The Division Bell (March 1994); released as a single October 1994. Highest UK chart position: 26
Acclaimed track from Gilmour-helmed ‘new’ Floyd, shunning Waters’ nihilism…
Bob Ezrin, producer, The Wall, The Division Bell: Roger’s leaving didn’t mean they were all suddenly going to fold up their tents and go home. Being a member of this band was how they defined themselves. But it took The Division Bell to get the new order established. There was less tension and stress than in The Wall. We went away for Christmas. And when we came back, Dave played us “High Hopes”. It wasn’t something we’d been working on. And there’s nothing complacent about it. It was absolutely feverish. It came to him in a burst, in two days. It was cathartic.
It’s the best track on the record. It is all David. It knitted together the album. It’s a monochrome, high-contrast musical painting, surrounded by a few little colourful elements, that form a wrapper around it. But the essence of the song is very stark. It’s peculiarly English. And when the Floyd are being English, they are at their best. Sometimes they are almost Dickensian. So is this.
Order Uncut’s Deluxe Ultimate Music Guide: Pink Floyd while stocks last at Backstreetmerch.com