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The Floyd That Binds Us

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I just want to thank my father for opening up my mind to great music. We didnt always have a lot of common ground but it was the notes coming from David Gilmour’s Fender Stratocaster that could potentially bring us both to tears. Any time the two of us took a drive in his pickup truck, it was almost a certainty that the band Pink Floyd would be emitting from the car stereo. Ever since I was about 10 years old; I UNDERSTOOD this unique, abstract, bizzare, spacy and progressive rock band.

For me, the band became an obsession of mine. I never could ONLY be a casual observer and listener. “Another Brick In The Wall,” was my first encounter with the Floyd. Mom would take me to the grocery store with her when I was a small boy. I was probably five years old when I kept hearing that song on the radio. My imagination was quite vivid at that age of my youth. Sometimes you like what you are hearing without quite being aware of the meaning or having a complete understanding of its lyrics, structure and relevance to your own life

In high school, my dad bought this awesome Pink Floyd Box Set. When I gazed upon the cover, with nude figures soaring above the water, I surrendered to the abstract art which definitely made an enormous impression on me. 8 compact discs inside the box. A large book with stories, pictures, track listings and lyrics captivated my interest for several weeks. After school homework and on dull weekends as a teenager, I would gravitate towards the magic of Pink Floyd. The 8 cds consisted of 7 albums and a bonus cd from the early days when a man named Syd Barrett was their lead guitarist and singer. The others were chosen as highlights that represented the “FLOYD SOUND.”

A Saucerful of Secrets, Meddle, Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, The Wall, A Momentary Lapse of Reason and Animals were the chosen ones for this box set. My father loved this kind of stuff! He was big into bands like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, CSNY and many others. But when it came to this artistic and experimental music from these four obscure British musicians, it was a whole new ball of wax. Moods were created. The atmosphere has that imagery of a street alley corner, an abandoned mountain peak, being lost in the desert and being inside a warm room looking outside at the cold neighborhood sort of feeling. Getting lost into that PINK noise.

Sometimes atmospheres and moods are hard to describe in detail. When I hear Roger Waters’ lyrics come to life in these Rock Operas, like THE WALL, I am left speechless because suddenly I have insane images in my head of worms, naked women in bathtubs, hammers marching, kids staring at airplanes up in the sky and getting thrown into a meat grinder by disgruntled teachers. The same holds true to all of their albums.

My dad and I would get into really long philosophical conversations about these guys, the meanings behind their politically charged and surreal lyrics and the imagination that they yielded. We would be working in the yard, painting the family room, or he would be helping me with my homework and have these awesome songs in the background.

So as popular and fantastic as the big three records were; WYWH, DSOTM and THE WALL; I found myself getting so turned on to the forgotten one, the misunderstood record, the less easily accessible one: ANIMALS. You have 5 songs on it. 3 of them longer than 10 minutes each and two really short ones; only a minute and a half each serving as bookends. Which is the opposite of WYWH. There’s an incredible theme going on with this disc. Not everyone likes it or has really even listened to it.

I think my dad and I can agree that the first of the three long songs simply entitled DOGS, features David Gilmour and Snowy White in a most biblically profound rhythmic wave of guitar solos and these unbelievably talented string picking peaks and valleys and uplifting jams that radically soar over mountain tops and deep caverns of amplified explorations. This song and vinyl record (disc, mp3, etc) are the bridge that connects the Music from Wish You Were Here to the rock opera = The Wall!!!

Father and Son have gone to see the Pink Floyd music live TWICE!!! Hearing that DOGS song executed from the fourth row at a small theatre was mesmerizing. The lyrics speak of the cutthroats and savages but those drums, the thick bass pluckings and the synthesized barking of dogs with the band members playing cards around a mock living room and coffee table, was a cool treat for us concert attendees.

Pink Floyd was always about the concept of Mr Sight and Mr Sound. I think that folks who enjoy SOME of Pink Floyd’s music and not much of the more EXPERIMENTAL stuff should honestly hangout with my dad and I more often. It’s like unraveling a mystery. Solving a puzzle within an enigma. Exploring symbols, metaphors and digging deeper is part of the fun. There’s more to this music than what lies on the surface. Anyways, Animals is so great because it’s extremely different and it is an acquired taste. But once you get used to it then it becomes this emotional transposition from just appreciating their works to totally submerging yourself into the true genius behind Roger and the gang.

Sure they can get political and quote George Orwell (particularly on Animals) with Animal Farm references with Dogs, Pigs and Sheep (the other two major songs) as analogies of the followers, leaders and cutthroat money hungry selfish people of our society but it is this pure talent of how most progressive rock bands like YES, GENESIS and TOOL owe so much to this band and this album.

That song Dogs, though, has a hard edge riff to it with sinister lyrics. The haze of the loaded environment of wild animals washes over me. I feel like I am going to get lost at sea and then suddenly Roger comes in singing, after hearing Gilmour’s first two dreamy verses, and throws a Bouy out to me and rescues me from the pack of dogs.

Even if you don’t like “jam bands”(like the grateful dead) but you love Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon then Animals should not be overlooked because great talent behind not just the words but the precise timing of all of these instruments come out in progressive full force in ANIMALS unlike anything I have ever heard before. Thank you dad for exposing me to this musical mightiness. They were ahead of their time with this record and we still have not caught up to it.

The album is conceptually beautiful. The packaging, with a flying pig on it, is stunning. I can listen to it over and over again without getting bored. When my dad bought that box set I mentioned earlier, that contained this bizarre album, he solidified his coolness with me. Props to you papa! Shine On. I’m glad our special bond is timeless……

Later
C-Note

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Top Ten of Ten: #6 Pink Floyd-Wish You Were Here (1975)

530928581The 1970’s were filled with great albums and musicians that rocked the airwaves. Among all of these great offerings by bands such as Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath and The Who; I found myself drawn to Pink Floyd and their brilliant album Wish You Were Here. This one from 1975 is easily Pink Floyd’s best album. When I say best I don’t mean it in terms of popularity or critical acclaim, that one belongs  to Dark side of the Moon. But musically and lyrically it is the bands most accomplished piece of work.  This album is a great follow-up to Dark Side of the Moon. This is an often overlooked treasure within Pink Floyd’s music catalog. It has survived the test of time well and is finally receiving more attention it deserved when it was first released. It is  an essential Pink Floyd album and I mean no disrespect  to “The Wall” which is when Roger Waters started to take over, but its the last great album the band produced. Wish You Were Here is very much dedicated to the founder Syd Barrett, who freaked out years before: and there’s funny songs about the evils of the music business (“By the way, which one’s Pink?”), and the touching ones about the band’s mysterious friend. The real star of the show, although, is the amazing production–with David Gilmour getting lots of room for his most creative guitar playing ever. That’s my story and I am sticking to it!