This Day In Music - 13th September
September 13, 2012 @ 10:00 am
This Day in Music, Pink Floyd released Wish You Were Here.
Wish You Were Here is the ninth studio album by English progressive rock group Pink Floyd, released in September 1975. It explores themes of absence, the music business and former band-mate Syd Barrett's mental decline. Inspired by material the band composed while performing across Europe, Wish You Were Here was recorded in numerous sessions at London's Abbey Road Studios. Although some of these sessions were problematic, it was lead writer Roger Waters' idea to split the centrepiece track "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" in two and join each half with three new compositions. "Shine On" was a tribute to Barrett, who, coincidentally, made an impromptu visit to the studio while it was being recorded.
As with their previous album, The Dark Side of the Moon, the band made use of studio effects and synthesisers. Roy Harper provided the lead vocals on "Have a Cigar". The album's packaging, designed by Storm Thorgerson, featured an opaque black sleeve which hid the album artwork. Wish You Were Here was an instant success and record company EMI was unable to print enough copies to satisfy demand. Although it initially received mixed reviews, the album has since been acclaimed by critics and appears on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Band members Richard Wright and David Gilmour have each declared Wish You Were Here their favourite Pink Floyd album.
During 1974 Pink Floyd sketched out three new compositions, "Raving and Drooling", "You Gotta Be Crazy" and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". These songs were performed at a series of concerts in France and England, the band's first tour since 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon. As Pink Floyd had never employed a publicist and kept themselves distant from the press, their relationship with the media began to sour. Following the publication by NME of a deeply cynical critique of the band's new material, byNick Kent (a devotee of Syd Barrett) and Pete Erskine, the band returned to the studio in the first week of 1975
Wish You Were Here is the second Pink Floyd album to use a conceptual theme written entirely by Waters. It reflects his feeling that the camaraderie that had served the band previously was, by then, largely absent. The album begins with a long instrumental preamble and segues into the lyrics for "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", a tribute to former band member Syd Barrett—whose mental breakdown had forced him to leave the band several years before. Barrett is fondly recalled with lines such as "Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun" and "You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon".
Wish You Were Here is also a critique of the music business. "Shine On" crosses seamlessly into "Welcome to the Machine", a song that begins with an opening door (described by Waters as a symbol of musical discovery and progress betrayed by a music industry more interested in greed and success) and ends with a party, the latter epitomising "the lack of contact and real feelings between people". Similarly, "Have a Cigar" scorns record industry "fatcats"; its lyrics contain well-used clichés such as "can hardly count", "they call it riding the gravy train" and "by the way, which one's Pink?"—a question asked of the band on at least one occasion. "Wish You Were Here" contains lyrics which relate not only to Barrett's condition, but also to the dichotomy of Waters' character, as an idealist, and a domineering personality. The album closes with a reprise of "Shine On" and further instrumental excursions.
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