18 Comfortably Numb
From The Wall (November 1979); released as a single in June 1980.
Waters and Gilmour alternate verses of traumatic/nostalgic scenes, increasing and relaxing the tension, until Gilmour’s guitar bursts forth.
Jake Shears, Scissor Sisters: After a while, a band becomes more unashamed about doing certain things, and that’s when I find them most interesting. I think Syd Barrett was really ‘cool’; Dave Gilmour isn’t. And I prefer bands when they stop caring about being cool.
When I was in ninth grade, there was a kid I had a crush on who played me Floyd for the first time – I grew up on an island, and we would lie out on the harbour with a boombox and listen to this song. A few years ago, I was asked to sing “Comfortably Numb” with David Gilmour at Radio City for two shows. I was emotionally fragile and weeping – a mess – but over the moon because I can sing the hell out of that song: I’ve been singing it for half of my life. But the day before the gig they decided not to have any guests. They canned me. Bastards! It was one of the worst things you could do to anybody!|
17 Apples And Oranges
Released as a single, November 1967
Syd’s guitar teeters on a feedback tightrope as a happy-go-lucky girl ambles round the shops. Non-charting follow-up to “See Emily Play”.
Richard Lloyd, Television: When I was a teenager one of my best friends had a great record collection. That’s where I first heard Hendrix, Floyd, Traffic and the Grateful Dead. I remember how wonderfully nutty some of the lyrics were, and how wacky the music was. Syd Barrett was a huge hero to us; he was clearly nuts but wrote these amazing songs with completely weird ideas. Who else would write a song about apples and oranges and actually be talking about the fruit? Or a song called “Bike” which was really about a bike? Like a child’s view of the world coupled with psychedelic music and crazy guitars and sound effects. The sheer pleasure in a song like “Apples And Oranges” still causes me wonder. I followed Pink Floyd for the first two albums, but lost interest after they lost Syd. Still, those first singles and songs continue to play regularly in the jukebox of my mind.
16 Goodbye Blue Sky
From The Wall
Among The Wall’s gentler moments, but nevertheless, alongside Gilmour’s gently-plucked guitars and sweet “oohs”, Waters still finds room for “falling bombs” and “frightened ones”.
Gerald Scarfe, illustrator/animator, The Wall album, stage-show and movie: Roger said he had this magnum opus he wanted to produce. He came to my house and played me the raw tapes, watching like a hawk. There was an awkward silence. Roger said, “I feel like I’ve pulled down my trousers and shat in front of you.” At that point The Wall didn’t mean a lot to me. But when Roger talked to me about what was behind it, we had in common being affected by the Second World War. Roger’s father had been killed in it, and I’d had a miserable time. “Did you see the frightened ones, did you hear the falling bombs/The planes are all long gone, but the pain lingers on” – those are lines in “Goodbye Blue Sky” I can very much identify with. I was four when the war started. I was born into a world of ultimate chaos. I have very strong memories of air raid shelters and having to wear these ghastly gas masks. As an asthmatic, I couldn’t breathe. I used all of that in the animation for “Goodbye Blue Sky” in the film – the frightened troglodytes have gasmasks for heads, and are crouching underground. The song, and the animation, has a sadness that resonates with my real past very strongly. And with Roger’s.
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