Pink Floyd were a band so intent on forward-thinking and avid musical creation that they have an incredibly dense back catalogue. It is so textured, so deeply woven and impenetrable, it is almost impossible to completely unpick. With 15 studio albums to choose from which songs does the principal member of the group, the fantastic guitarist David Gilmour, think are the band’s best?
It’s a tough question that, one would imagine, Gilmour has faced plenty of times, but on one or two occasions he’s shared his feelings on his favourite songs from the acid-rock pioneers. The man, it must be acknowledged, will have had such an integral hand in the band’s output that picking a few songs to call his favourite is the equivalent of a sonic Sophie’s choice.
It appears the singer and guitarist, who joined the band near the very beginning of their wide-reaching 55-year journey, replacing Syd Barrett, did once pick six songs which he likes the most amid a huge catalogue. They are a collection of songs that he would say he stood the test of time. Below we’ve pulled together a playlist of those songs, perfect for any Pink Floyd purist.
David Gilmour’s favourite Pink Floyd songs may be a little hard to gauge. The singer’s relationship with the tempestuous band, which saw him struggle with creative tensions and in-fighting with the other pillar of the band Roger Waters, has often left a slightly bitter taste in his mouth. Especially considering his own prominent solo career, it must become tiresome when consistently answering fan-centric questions about Floyd. But that is what happens when you’re part of one of the most influential bands of all time.
Luckily enough, in 2006, Billboard spoke to Gilmour and amidst a heaving interview where pretty much every aspect of his career thus far was discussed, Gilmour did answer the question on everybody’s lips, what wer ehis favourite Pink Floyd songs? While the singer did pick some Floyd classics out as the best he also admitted that “there’s lots of them.”
Picking two from the Wish You Were Here album, he selected, “‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ and ‘Wish You Were Here’ are standout tracks.” Selecting two of the band’s most prominent songs he completed quite possibly the triumvirate of Floyd’ numbers when picked arguably the band’s most famous song from The Wall, ‘Comfortably Numb’, a song which Gilmour holds special affection as it acts as his favourite live moment for Pink Floyd.
When picking out some of his favourite solos Gilmour shared his most spectacular moment with Pink Floyd, noting ‘Comfortably Numb’ as the pinnacle of his and the band’s live shows: “It was a fantastic moment, I can tell, to be standing up on there, and Roger’s just finished singing his thing, and I’m standing there, waiting,” remembers Gilmour.
“I’m in pitch darkness and no one knows I’m there yet. And Roger’s down and he finishes his line, I start mine and the big back spots and everything go on and the audience, they’re all looking straight ahead and down, and suddenly there’s all this light up there and they all sort of—their heads all lift up and there’s this thing up there and the sound’s coming out and everything.
“Every night there’s this sort of ‘[gasp!]’ from about 15,000 people. And that’s quite something, let me tell you”.
Gilmour may not have described all of the songs as his personal favourites but he did eventually give the game away when he said: “‘High Hopes’ from The Division Bell is one of my favourite all-time Pink Floyd tracks,” tacking on a few more for good measure, “‘The Great Gig in the Sky,’ ‘Echoes,'” he eventually conceded defeat and admitted, “there’s lots of them.”
The rest of the interview, conducted to promote his solo tour at the time, offers up a candid view of Gilmour. After being asked whether or not he should be playing bigger venues to avoid upsetting people he frankly replied: “I can’t help other people’s frustrations. I don’t owe people anything. If people would like to come to my concerts I’d love them to come. And if they like the music that I make, I love that too. But I do not make music for other people. I make it to please myself.” It’s the kind of artistic determination that has seen Gilmour and Pink Floyd retain their position as purists.
It’s the kind of determination and wit that has seen Gilmour not only become an icon with his psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd but become a bastion of creative endeavour while doing so.
On his legacy, Gilmour reflected, “Oh! [Long silence] Legacy? What’s a legacy? I think our music will continue to be played for a while. Then it will be forgotten like everything else will be forgotten. How long will that take? A hundred years, a thousand years, a million years? I have no idea. This is not something I think of very much.”
Take a listen below to the six songs David Gilmour thinks are Pink Floyd’s best.
David Gilmour’s favourite Pink Floyd songs:
- ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’
- ‘Wish You Were Here’
- ‘Comfortably Numb’
- ‘High Hopes’
- ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’