David Gilmour is undoubtedly one of the most significant guitarists of all time. Technically gifted and intensely cerebral, his playing diverged from the traditional rock norm that was mainly concerned with how many notes you could physically fit into a bar. There’s a reason the legendary Pink Floyd guitarist remains so lauded today, as for him, it was all about substance over style.
More restrained than most of his contemporaries, Gilmour can best be described as the guitarist of the 1970s. Whilst he released music with Pink Floyd in the late ’60s, it was in the following decade that he really ascended. Not only did he take it up a few levels with his guitar work, but his artistry, in general, was taken up to the stratosphere during the decade. A vital cog in Pink Floyd’s interstellar machine, without him, they would not have been the same.
Whilst a lot can be said for Gilmour and the band’s work after the ’70s, a lot of it not so positive; the moments he gave us during this decade will live on forever. If we note just a handful of examples, this point is made clear. Whether it be on ‘Echoes’, ‘Money’, ‘Wish You Were Here‘ or even ‘Dogs’, as Pink Floyd’s axeman, Gilmour created a unique style that managed to straddle both the visceral and emotive. Duly, over the years, many have tried and failed to imitate his style.
Gilmour was the final part of the puzzle for the band, coming from the same school of guitarists such as Peter Green and B.B. King, who placed emotion at the forefront rather than peacocking. It wouldn’t have been right for them to have a guitarist who played in any other way.
Given that David Gilmour is such a guitar hero, we’ve decided to collate five of his isolated guitar tracks that prove he’s a genius. Expect to see some of his best moments. Across this list, we’ve made sure that it reflects every facet of Gilmour’s playing, showing just how versatile he is.
Five isolated guitar tracks that prove David Gilmour is a genius:
‘Money’ is one of Pink Floyd’s best-loved tracks. One of the highlights of their 1973 masterpiece, The Dark Side of the Moon, it has a crossover appeal similar to ‘Another Brick in the Wall’. We all know and love the funky groove of ‘Money’, and the thing that carries it is David Gilmour’s guitar playing.
Whether it be the choppy, reggae-esque chords during the verses, the iconic main riff, or the extremely swaggering solo at the end, there’s much to love about his guitar playing here. Listening to the isolated track of ‘Money’ confirms that Gilmour is one of the most inventive guitar players of all time, and we just wish that they’d reunite for one last tour.
‘Echoes’, the second side of Pink Floyd’s 1971 record, Meddle, has long been a fan favourite. An extensive and meandering track with numerous different parts, you could argue that this was the song where Glmour really came alive. In many ways, it set a precedent for everything that followed over the decade.
Funky, moody and expressive, this is perhaps the rawest masterpiece that Gilmour ever delivered, and we love it. Listening to the isolated guitar track, you really get a sense of how he weaves his many guitar parts together, creating a heady wall of sound that pulls you in and sends you into a different dimension.
‘Wish You Were Here’
The title track from Pink Floyd’s 1975 album is one of their best-beloved songs, and for a good reason. Often regarded as a lament about ex-Floyd frontman Syd Barrett, songwriter Roger Waters has long maintained that the lyrics were actually aimed at himself, as many of his songs are. He claims it’s about being present in one’s life and freeing one’s self in order to truly experience life. Interestingly though, Gilmour has said that he cannot play the song without thinking of Barrett.
Regardless of the song’s meaning, it remains one of Gilmour’s most revered moments. Played mostly on the acoustic guitar, the blues-infused licks he delivers at the start, just after the main riff, are iconic and are made even more captivating by the isolated track. In addition to this, the slide guitar solo towards the end is brought front and centre by the isolated track, hitting you right in the feels.
1980’s ‘Comfortably Numb‘ makes a claim for being the last great guitar moment that David Gilmour produced, and the solos of the song rank among his very best. Emotionally stirring, he took his playing to a different level here, blending the styles of Hendrix and Green into what can only be described as one of the most vital guitar moments of all time.
Listening to the isolated track makes Gilmour’s skill even more astounding, as his use of distortion and chorus combine to create an atmosphere like no other. This is peak Gilmour.
A more languid Gilmour take, ‘Breathe’ from The Dark Side of the Moon, remains a personal favourite of his. Hazy and psychedelic, ‘Breathe’ is akin to floating on a cloud. You feel as if you’re perched above the world, looking down in awe at all its idiosyncracies. Much of this can be attributed to Gilmour’s guitar work on the track.
Featuring the clean and shimmering sound of his Fender Stratocaster, he takes you on a real journey here. Technically it’s not the hardest piece in the world, but the effect it has on the listener is quite something. Added to this, his slide work is also incredible, adding to the narcotic feel of the song.