The band is just fantastic,
that is really what I think,
Oh, by the way,
which one's Pink?
— Pink Floyd
Formed in the mid 60s as another psychedelic rock band with London students, Pink Floyd evolved into the face of progressive rock. The theme based albums, whacky sounds, soul shaking lyrics, engaging cover arts and lavish live show experience make Pink Floyd stand apart from their contemporaries and other new an old bands. The original line up consisted of the front man and guitarist Syd Barrett, the driving force behind the band, who had to be relieved of his duties due to his excessive experimentation with substance (read psychedelic drugs like LSD) and deteriorating mental health. The most famous line up of the band consists of Roger Waters (Bass), Nick Mason (Drums), David Gilmour (Guitar) and Richard Wright (Keyboard). Despite a spat between Waters and Gilmour that eventually led to Waters quitting the band in the 80s (and of course a brief exit by Wright in the late 70s), the image of these four members flashes on the minds whenever Pink Floyd is talked about. Together these men created some of the best music in the world that won Pink Floyd zillions of fans (including the author). Today I sit down to name 7 songs that define why Pink Floyd are one step ahead of the other bands. These 7 songs were all released with the 'famous four' line up of the band performing on them and are not in any particular order. There are awesome tracks from the Syd Barrett led era, where Pink Floyd really produced some psychedelic music and Gilmour led era, where Pink Floyd ventured into some new dimensions, but I'll purposefully stick to the music produced during the so called Waters led era which had a lengthy successful run and cemented the legacy of the band named Pink Floyd.
1. Comfortably Numb, The Wall, 1979
Perhaps the best known song of the band, Comfortably Numb, touches the soul with its melodious flow. It was one of the first Pink Floyd songs I listened to and I will see a lot of people reciprocating this feeling. The complex yet easy lyrics set a mood to the song.
However, it is David Gilmour's guitar solos that provide the killing edge. The two guitar solos, especially the last one, are proof of Gilmour's guitar wizardry. The guitar work isn't complex but the way he extends the notes and the little licks he plays in a melodious fashion take the listener to another dimension. Roger Waters resonating voice and Gilmour voice complement each other throughout. It is a perfect go-to song for anybody after getting high!
2. Echoes, Meddle, 1971
If Comfortably Numb is a showcase of Pink Floyd's melody and Gilmour's guitar work, Echoes demonstrates Water's experiments with sounds and his love for long jams. The song is one of the Pink Floyd's longest with running time a little shy of 24 minutes. Waters plays the bass as usual but also engages himself in a play with the electronic instruments that resulted in the characteristic 'ping' that echoes and plays throughout the song. The song rallies through various tempos and bouts of strange music pieces courtesy Roger Waters and David Gilmour.
However, the best thing about the song is the melodious harmony between Gilmour and Wright. Wright hasn't sung on many songs but he created a magic whenever he did and Echoes is the best display of his finesse. His and Gilmour's voices overlap to create a heavenly melody that give the sweet touch to the otherwise noise heavy music of the track.
3. The Great Gig in the Sky, The Dark Side of the Moon, 1973
Every Pink Floyd member was so gifted. This song was a brainchild of Richard Wright. The song has a sweet chord progression with its ups and downs.
However, the thing that makes this song special is the lead voice of Clare Torry. Clare Torry was asked to perform on this song without any lyrics. Using her voice as an instrument, she did an amazing job. The heights to which she takes her voice is really amazing. This song is one of the only two songs to have lead vocals credited to a non member of Pink Floyd. The musical genius of Wright and band's decision to have Clare Torry on vocals gave us an end product which is truly mesmerizing.
4. Have a Cigar, Wish You Were Here, 1975
Waters' musical prowess is one thing but what he really is a master at is his lyrical ability. Have a Cigar, somewhat like Welcome to the Machine, is critical of the dirty music business that Roger Waters despised. With his stinging words he has tried to berate the music labels and portray the agony of the performers who are under immense pressure of churning out hits after hits.
Everybody else is just green, have you seen the chart?
It's a helluva start, it could be made into a monster
If we all pull together as a team.
His words express the sarcasm and the way the music industry giants treat the performers. Waters went on to write more critical lyrics in the album, The Wall but the lyrics of this particular track really exemplify Waters' desire to let his songs say what he truly feels at heart. Something that a music fan can never stop appreciating.
A fun fact about this song! This is only the second Pink Floyd track with a non member as a lead vocalist. Country singer Roy Harper sang the vocals making him the only non member after Clare Torry, to be credited as lead vocalist.
5. Wish You Were Here, Wish You Were Here, 1975
Wish you were here brings another element and a completely new dimension to the Pink Floyd sound. The song is an acoustic beauty and well written composition on a simple guitar rhythm. Every Pink Floyd fan (including me) has this song on the list of the songs he can strum to. Melodious guitar solos and poigonant voice of Gilmour is a highlight of the song.
However, the profound lyrics written by Waters is the real star behind the success of this track. Waters was quite attached to Syd Barrett, who was the central theme of this whole album and this particular song. The lyrics referes indirectly to Syd Barrett and Waters' conflicts with the society in general. The song poses a different kind of image of the band due to the usage of acoustic guitar throughout.
6. Careful With that Axe Eugene, Ummagumma, 1969
With Syd Barrett's departure, Pink Floyd had lost the leader and the driving force of the band. The psychedelic sound that was creative genius of Syd Barrett was difficult to replicate. However, Pink Floyd managed to churn out this song. Careful with that axe Eugene is the best psychedelic song in the post Barrett era by the band.
Despite speculations over the quality of work after Barrett's departure, Pink Floyd surpassed the expectations with this track. It won't be an overstatement if the song is held as LSD for ears. The song starts slow with a gradual build up that leads to heavy guitar solo and crashing drums. The pure psychedelic experience created by the organ playing in the background, vocals and guitar by Gilmour and screams by Waters is an absolute delight.
7. Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Wish You Were Here, 1975
No discussion about Pink Floyd songs is complete without Shine on You Crazy Diamond. The song originated from a strike of a chord by David Gilmour which was picked up by Waters and both of them wrote the music for this longest Pink Floyd track. The nine part track runs for 26 minutes and is a fine example of craftsmanship of Pink Floyd members. The song was primarily written for Syd Barrett and he is mentioned as crazy diamond.
Every part of the song can be distinguished and seems like telling a different story. The musical arrangement is melodious but still preserved that rock structure. Listening to this 26 minute track is like listening to Pink Floyd anthology and is a milestone in the legacy of the band.
These 7 songs portray different characteristics of the band, Pink Floyd. Listening to these songs brings out a new aspect of the Pink Floyd sound and defines why Pink Floyd is a celebrated band all across the globe. I hope after listening to these songs you'll agree to the fact that Pink Floyd is, if not the best, one of the best bands ever. Don't agree? Write it off in the comments section.
By no means is this list exhaustive. There are numerous other tracks that have led to the success of the band but I couldn't fit them in here. Please add your suggestions in the comments section if you think I might have missed an important piece. Any corrections are always welcome!
© 2015 Molly Cule
Moral Man on June 09, 2016:
Pink Floyd is top notch. Out of the five members, two of them are deceased. Syd Barrett and Richard Wright are deceased, and David Gilmour, Roger Waters, and Nick Mason are still living.
Something should be said about Syd Barrett. He left the band in its early years due to mental illness. He seemed to be a rather sad man.
Darkside of the Moon and Time are two favorite songs, as is Shine on You Crazy Diamond. The Wall, both the record and the 1982 movie based on it, is awesome, as well as depressing. Comfortably Numb is their best song in my opinion, and there are many versions of this song. The 1994 version of Comfortably Numb where the band played in front of a crowd, was an awesome performance with lights and special effects. David Gilmour does an awesome job on the guitar. The guitars on Comfortably Numb are mesmerizing. You can feel the anguish and the heart the band puts into it. The only other group that is almost as good is Rush who are famous for the song and video Subdivisions. Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb is one of the greatest songs. Its incredible!
Molly Cule (author) from Roorkee on October 16, 2015:
Ha Ha! Thanks.. Encouragement is highly appreciated!!
Payal Sharotri on October 16, 2015:
Nicely written! Good job