David Gilmour is a unique talent. His influence on Pink Floyd helped them grow into a new entity, one that took the world by storm and implemented a sound that it’s impossible not to find endlessly inspiring.
Although Gilmour wasn’t a founding member of Pink Floyd, he quickly became an integral figure in the group and helped shape the band in his image. Without him joining the group in 1968, Pink Floyd would have morphed into a completely different type of band if it wasn’t for Gilmour’s intuition. He brought an expansive nature to the group, which soaked their music atmosphere and, without him, Pink Floyd’s legacy would be immeasurably disparate.
In a vintage BBC Four documentary hosted by Alan Yentob, Gilmour dives into discussing the archetypal Pink Floyd sound. The four bricks in Pink Floyd’s wall created pieces of music that were not just profoundly pioneering and barrier-breaking but also opened listeners up to a brave new world. Ever since the band’s separation, there have been vast numbers of pretenders attempting to replicate them, but nobody has quite managed to match their innovation.
“It’s a very hard thing to puzzle out myself how these things happen,” Gilmour commented to Yentob. “You know, what combination of personalities, sounds and four individual’s tastes come together to make something that’s got space and atmosphere, theatre and god knows what else to it. Something magic comes out of these bendy bits of wire,” he said with a smile before beginning to play with his prized possession.
Gilmour then descends into offering up a masterclass that typifies just how much he can do with a guitar in his paws and how the instrument is an extension of himself. “Every note is the tiniest little thing, which is what makes the guitar so personal that you can add 100 different tiny inflexions to what you’re doing all the time and that I guess is what gives people their individual tone and sound.”
Pink Floyd were the masters of distortion, and this element of their sound is something that Gilmour couldn’t fathom life without. “I try to create distortion, which gives an impression of real loudness,” the guitarist explains. “It’s very hard to do, and you can’t do it unless you use a little box which has got its own whole circuitry designed to give distortion. It never sounds quite right doing this pathetic little distortion in a little room. It’s not the same as feeling it when you’re on a stage when you can lean back against the sound. You feel so powerful that you can sort of lean against it,” Gilmour says with a glint in his eye.
The former Pink Floyd maestro then discusses how the guitar isn’t just an instrument but is much more than that and the intimate relationship that he has with his closest ally, which has stayed by his side through thick and thin. “It is the way that some of us express ourselves best,” Gilmour said in a moment of reflection.
Witnessing David Gilmour with a guitar in his hand is one of life’s most cherished sights. The positive energy that oozes out of Gilmour is infectious when he speaks about the one thing in his life that allows him to convey emotions in a manner that few can do as eloquently with words.