As mentioned in previous posts, I’m a huge fan of Pink Floyd. Having said that, and for the record on this blog, “huge fan” means I greatly enjoy their music. My accent wall in our living room is not painted black with a huge prism on it (though it is painted a lovely shade of tenaya green with a rather stunning mirror framed in stained oak), nor do I have a pet dog named Seamus. I don’t own a Pink Floyd shirt or boxers, and I highly doubt I’ll ever bid on any of David Gilmour’s used guitars. However, I thoroughly enjoy mellowing out with them while I work. I will also throw on “Wish You Were Here” for the drive home after visiting with my in-laws on a Sunday evening so my girls can drift off to sleep.
I came into the Pink Floyd realm post-Roger Waters. Easy enough to do; their last album with him was The Final Cut released in 1983. I’m pretty sure I was in 5th or 6th grade when that came out. No, I came into my Floyd era with the release of A Momentary Lapse of Reason. I was sitting in my bedroom, listening to the local classic rock station. The DJ got all school-girl giddy and announced that Pink Floyd’s new single was coming up. I figured I might as well give them a shot … everyone in school seemed to worship them as some iconic musical gods. 1200+ students couldn’t be wrong, could they?
The first single of the album was “One Slip.” This song is the reason I had such a difficult time getting into Rush’s Presto album. As soon as it came out, I ran out and bought the tape. It was worn thin inside a month. With songs like “Learning to Fly,” “Yet Another Movie,” and “Sorrow,” I wondered how this band had eluded me for 15+ years of life.
My buddy Jim told me that there were some other key albums of theirs that were must-haves. He immediately hooked me up with copies of “The Wall,” “Dark Side of the Moon,” and “Wish You Were Here.” Again, all reasons why I didn’t “discover” Rush for another 2 years.
In college, I loved perusing the local used music shop. One afternoon shortly after arriving in town, I wandered in on a routine wandering of the “downtown” area. There, sitting in the used tape bin, was a pretty well-preserved copy of Meddle. Maybe it’s just me, but this particular album seemed to bridge the gap between the psychedelic, “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict” style of of music into the more refined, polished floyd that emerged on Meddle. Echoes, while reminiscent of the old Syd Barrett days, definitely shone through as a new benchmark in prominence for Gilmour. It’s also one of the ONLY songs that Roger Waters absolutely cannot perform with his solo band. The harmonics that Waters and Richard Wright provide are practically impossible to duplicate. At least on that track, both of them have this lulling, breathy quality to their vocals.
The other day, I was in Best Buy, having my iPhone serviced because of that ridiculously lame 3.1 firmware upgrade. ( NOTE: Do NOT upgrade to 3.1 if you like using your phone as a tethered modem. 3.1 removes that functionality.) I tried installing it, which really shouldn’t have been a complex procedure at all, but for some reason, my phone went all brick on me. Couldn’t get it to do anything. Being in between jobs at the moment, it is extremely critical that the phone work at all times. Any potential employers with my resume in hand could be trying to call that number. While I was pacing around, fuming and staring wide-eyed into my jobless future, there was something eerily familiar drifting over the din of the melee’ that generally pervades Best Buy. I wandered around until I centered in on the source. The closer I got, the more clear the music became. I got to the source just in time to revel in the beauty of Gilmour’s studio solo on “Comfortably Numb.” For those of you not familiar with the song, become such. The demo speakers were these two unbelievable Polk towers, replete with built-in subs. The sound was amazing. As I sat there and audibly drank in every crystal clear note, I found myself having to prop myself up on the other speakers, which happened to be perfectly centered between the two demo speakers. Gilmour’s perfectly crafted performance hit me harder than anything had in a long time. Thinking about my family, being jobless, wondering how the hell I’m supposed to support my wife and kids on an income of 0 … then the wailing of his guitar as he nailed this incredibly soulful, sorrowful solo … you just don’t experience things like that all the time. To me, it was as if he was speaking directly to me 30 years ago. “Dude, you’re gonna feel this numbness, this overwhelming sadness … and you’re going to beg and plead for someone to understand you, and no one will because everyone around you–all your friends, all your neighbors, all your family … they’re all going to have jobs. You are going to be the lone loser who is without.”