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