Pink Floyd’s homage to Syd Barrett, ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, is a bittersweet track that has only gained more gravitas since his passing. Consistently a heart-rending moment whenever performed live, this rendition by David Gilmour in 2006 sees him seek assistance from a local busker, of all people.
Gilmour trekked through some of Europe’s most picturesque locations during the tour, which included a two-night residency at Venice’s Piazza San Marco, at the heart of the city. The leisurely pace of the run allowed Gilmour to explore every location through the lens of a tourist and treat it like a vacation. Gilmour became instantly enamoured when he stumbled upon one particular dexterous talent while in the historic Italian city.
His trip was documented in a short film and captured Gilmour speaking to a busker who mesmerised him playing the wine glasses on the Venician streets. “Do you want to play it with us tomorrow night on the stage here in St. Mark’s Square?” Gilmour asks him in the clip. The local musician is none the wiser that he is speaking to a member of Pink Floyd, and after Gilmour explains that he’ll pay him for his service, the busker finally agrees to perform.
The saccharine video follows Gilmour throughout the day leading up to the performance that evening. At one glorious point, he is attempting to learn how to play the instrument backstage as the camera captures the moment his inquisitive childlike instincts jump straight out of his body.
Gilmour began the second half of his set at the Piazza San Marco with the imperial ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ with a slice of help from his new friend. Before erupting into the performance, Gilmour introduces him by saying: “He plays in the streets of Venice for you every day. He’s going to play the wine glasses.”
The innovative and original recording of the track taken from Wish You Were Here features Pink Floyd playing a glass harp, and it was fate that Gilmour would bump into someone who could reignite that familiar eerie sound. Coincidentally, during that same session, Pink Floyd recorded their ode to Barrett, their former singer arrived out of nowhere after years of estrangement from the group and looked a shadow of his former self. Roger Waters reportedly broke down in tears after catching eyes on what Barrett had become. Even though he was physically in their presence, mentally, he was absent.
The song will be forever shrouded in a degree of tragedy, but this clip will pull on your heartstrings for a different reason. The addition of the Venician troubadour makes Gilmour’s performance of ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ radiate even greater and is a sheer spectacle.
See the clips, below.