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(Credit: Pink Floyd)

The reason why Pink Floyd didn't let Stanley Kubrick use their music

Being featured as part of a film soundtrack to accompany the work of cinematic iconic Stanley Kubrick is an opportunity that appears impossible to turn down, no matter the size, stature or reputation of a musician. The chance to have your music align with the cinematography of a pioneering figure such as Kubrick is simply irresistible — unless, of course, you’re Pink Floyd, that is.

There are undeniable parallels between the work of Pink Floyd and Stanley Kubrick. In fact, you could go as far as to say that they are each other’s equivalents in their respective field. They’ve both travelled into territory which explores future dystopia, and their work on paper fits together like a hand in glove. Despite Kubrick’s best wishes, we never got the opportunity to see this happen in actuality and the Floyd’s reasoning is the definition of petty.

One long-lasting rumour was that Pink Floyd’s track ‘Echoes’ was made to appear on Kubrick’s classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The song featured on the band’s 1971 album Meddle, which was released three years after the movie. While the film conceivably influenced the creativity that they poured into the track, it was never intended by Pink Floyd to appear on the picture like many will have you believe.

However, the theory that Floyd took influence from Kubrick’s masterpiece has been backed up by a fan-made video that blends the 23-minute bonanza with the final sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey to create an effortlessly slick combination.

When Nick Mason was asked in 2018 by an Uncut reader about why the band famously turned down Kubrick using ‘Atom Heart Mother’ in A Clockwork Orange, the Floyd drummer hinted that perhaps some of their work had been influenced by 2001 in the past. “Probably because he wouldn’t let us do anything for 2001,” explained Mason. “It sounds a bit petulant! I don’t remember whether he did ask for something from ‘Atom Heart Mother. We’d have loved to have got involved with 2001 – we thought it was exactly the sort of thing we should be doing the soundtrack for.”

Roger Waters first acknowledged the band’s refusal to allow the track to be used in the film when he spoke with Great Lake in 1973, explaining: “He just phoned up and said that he wanted it,” the Pink Floyd founder recalled. “We said, ‘Well, what do you want to do?’ And he didn’t know. He [said he] wanted to use it ‘how I want, when I want’.’ and we said right away ‘Right, you can’t use it’.”

While Mason confessed that the band they would have loved to have done something for 2001: A Space Odyssey, chances are that if Kubrick had phoned them and asked them for permission, the call would have ended in the same abrupt manner. Both Pink Floyd and Stanley Kubrick had the desire to retain complete control of their own work, and, in truth, the word democratic didn’t translate in a collaborative sense.

Their art may come from a similar place, but the two creative entities were so adamant on not relinquishing any control to the other that the actuality of Pink Floyd and Kubrick working together was never feasible. However, without that cavalier spirit ingrained into everything they created, the collective forces wouldn’t be the mercurial talents they are remembered as today.

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