Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pink Floyd - High Hopes

“The grass was greener,
The light was brighter,
The taste was sweeter,
The nights of wonder,
With friends surrounded,
The dawn mist glowing,
The water flowing,
The endless river,
Forever and ever.”

The upside to being dead is people finally start appreciating you. Syd Barrett, a mess of a man and not a great song writer, but he’s dead so people really think he’s great. Dave Gilmour, amazing song writer, fantastic musician, still alive, no one spares a word of praise. It’s not fair, and honestly I think it’s cruel as well as stupid.

I have always lived by the philosophy that if you want to be honest with the world that means two things, saying both the complementary and condescending things about people and things, and I would consider it rude to wait until Dave Gilmour passes away before I gave him the credit he so richly deserves.

Most anyone will tell you the driving force behind Pink Floyd was Roger Waters, and they’re right, Waters was without question the most talent musician and song writer in Pink Floyd, but the second man was clearly always Gilmour.

I always felt sorry for Gilmour, he played lead guitar (arguably the most important role), he sang vocals, and was strong in the song writing process for Pink Floyd, but people tend to remember Waters more so as the lead man of Pink Floyd, but that is fair, Waters was huge in song writing, bass guitar, and vocals, involved so much he did somewhat eclipse Gilmour’s awesome contributions. That’s not what upsets me, what upsets me is something else.

You see Pink Floyd hates each other. Most of the animosity seems to be between the two champions of the band Waters and Gilmour. Now think of this, how many songs did Pink Floyd write about missing Syd Barrett? The answer is like ten or twelve, including an entire album titled, as you know, “Wish you were here.” As history will remember when Syd Barrett destroyed his brain it was Dave Gilmour who stepped in and replaced him, and that single key element, changed everything; Pink Floyd was Waters, Mason, Wright, and Gilmour, not Waters, Mason, Wright, and Barrett, but on numerous occasions Waters was quoted saying how much he wished Barrett was there... you know instead of Gilmour. Gilmour even had to sing songs about how the rest of the band “Wish you were here,” he basically had to sing songs about how the rest of the band indirectly wished he wasn’t there. I always thought that was really sad, it seemed like the rest of the band never appreciated Gilmour as the talent and friend he was, at least that’s now it always seemed to me at this long distance from musicians to fan.

I got some feedback from March’s part 1, Music in Review, mentioning albums like “Animals,” which is a good album, but I never really got into it. If I had to pick a fourth best album for Pink Floyd, after the obvious three, it would have to be “The Division Bell.” It seems like no one agrees with me on this and the albums of choice for Floyd these days are “Animals,” and “Meddle,” but I stand by my choice. What I never realized until recently is that Roger Waters left Pink Floyd in the 1980’s and Pink Floyd carried on as a three piece band without him, recording their last two studio albums “A Momentary Lapse in Reason,” and “The Division Bell,” both of which were heavily written by Dave Gilmour. That was the final reason for me to take a step back and give a shout of admiration and respect to Mr. Gilmour, those were really good albums, all the more impressive knowing how late they were created in Gilmour’s life, as I have stated before it gets harder to write really good music as you get older, as eventually you run out of ideas.

Maybe it has something to do with the time I got into Pink Floyd, around 1995 or so, and “The Division Bell,” came out in 1994, so I was exposed to several of the tracks when I bought their live album “Pulse” (1996), several of the tracks performed were from Floyd’s last two albums, and damn I really liked them, especially “High Hopes.” I played “High Hopes,” at work, and as am I constantly disappointed with people not a single person had idea what song it was, even other Pink Floyd fans. Now, you, my friends, will know and remember this great track, and do yourself a favour and listen to “The Division Bell,” its Pink Floyd’s fourth best album, I swear.

Just listen to “High Hopes,” and you can hear the bitterness and sadness in Gilmour’s voice. Being a rock star never ended up being glamorous and sweet for Pink Floyd, they lost a close friend, struggled for a long time to get support from critics and fans alike, refused to sell out and were punished for it, and in time they even grew to hate each other. It’s amazing that music so beautiful could come from such anguish; there are no words to describe it really.

Until next month, keep on rocking in the free world.

- Colin Kelly

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pink Floyd - Shine on you Crazy Diamond

“Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.”

I grow up listening to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin; these were by far my two favourite bands.  I started listening to Pink Floyd when I was in the sixth grade or so around 1996.  The general consensus among everyone, radio DJs, music critics, casual fans, hardcore Pink Floyd fans, and me, was that there were three pinnacle albums to own by Pink Floyd “Wish you were here,” “Dark Side of the Moon,” and “The Wall.”  I was always curious about their other eleven albums but with few exceptions I never really got into them.  One day I had the mixed fortunate of catching “Piper at the gates of Dawn,” on much music retro, and all I could think was “what is this shit?”  I then learned that the general consensus was also that, Syd Barrett sucked.

When Pink Floyd started out they did not have David Gilmour as lead, they had a drugged up idiot named Syd Barrett.  Syd Barrett went on to do acid every day for a year and after guess what, brain damage.  Roger Waters, Richard Wright, and Nick Mason really missed their friend but carried on with Gilmour anyway.  Everything made sense, Syd Barrett did drugs and wrote bad music and as soon as he was gone the rest of Pink Floyd got their act together and produced three of the best classic rock albums of all time, makes sense right?

Then Syd Barrett died.

Barrett managed to live to the age of sixty 1946-2006, and at the time of his death humanity being the shallow petty creatures we are for some reason had to pretend that Barrett’s life meant more than a stupid ass who destroyed his brain with drugs, idiots started to believe he was a genius, and slowly but surely I started to hear people say that Pink Floyd was nothing without Syd Barrett.

How could anyone possibly believe that?  Pink Floyd without Syd Barrett became arguably the second greatest rock band of all time, how could the junk produced beforehand even be compared to the powerhouse triptych of “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Wish you were here,” and “The Wall.”  It’s amazing the lies people tell themselves to feel better about death, even the death of a man they never knew and had no reason to like.  But the story gets worse; I slowly realized that Pink Floyd took a long time to get their act together after Barrett’s demise, three albums to be exact.  You see Syd Barrett’s involvement in Pink Floyd really only existed on their first album “Piper at the gates of Dawn.”  He was sort of around for the second album “A Saucerful of Secrets,” but by that point he was brain dead.  So when people kiss dead people’s asses and tell you Syd Barrett was the real genius of Pink Floyd they are indirectly telling you that “Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” is a better album than “Wish you were here,” “Dark Side of the Moon,” and “The Wall,” combined, and seriously how is anyone that stupid?

To be perfectly honest, “Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” isn’t terrible, but that’s the problem with greatness, we aren’t comparing “Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” to the average musical album, or even the average classic rock album, if we were it would be below average and we would be done with it, but we have to compare it to the rest of Pink Floyd’s discography and compared to everything past “Meddle,” “Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” is garbage.

Something good did come from Barrett’s existence however, and that was the positive impression he left on Roger Waters.  Waters is inarguably the main man behind Pink Floyd and apparently he really loved his friend Syd, not only does Waters constantly give Barrett credit for lots of his own hard work, but wrote multiple tributes to his friend. 

The most memorable tribute to Syd Barrret was the album “Wish you were here,” with the title track quite point blank referring to Barrett.  The cover art should have given away something as well, two men shaking hands goodbye, one of them on fire. 

Pink Floyd’s music was always psychedelic, long adventures into the minds of calm madness, and the best song on “Wish you were here,”  to capture that is “Shine on you Crazy Diamond,” another song about Syd. 

Thanking Syd Barrett for Pink Floyd is like thanking anthrax for Louis Pasteur, or thanking slavery for Mark Twain.  While the members of Pink Floyd may hold Syd Barrett and all they shared with him dear it was not Syd Barrett who was a friend to them, rather Pink Floyd was the best friend of Syd Barrett, we would have no idea who Syd Barrett was if it wasn’t for them, they also loved him so much they wrote some of the greatest classic rock music ever about him.

Until next month, keep on rocking in the free world.

- Colin Kelly