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“Dolby’s Top 50 Pink Floyd Songs”

 

Now, it might seem from the fact that I did a “Top 25” on Zeppelin and now I’m doing a “Top 50” on Floyd, that I like Floyd better. Sh**, I never thought about it, but maybe it’s true. I mean, Pink Floyd have never professed to want to be my “back door man” (or the female listener’s “back door man,” as it were.. and da**ed if that isn’t one of the most regrettable psych-rock covers of an old blues boy). In fact, has anybody ever even SEEN a Pink Floyd concert? Do they even exist? Do these people named David Gilmour, Roger Waters and Syd Barrett even exist? They sound made up.
Well, I have met one person who’s seen Floyd and she said it knocked it out of the park. They opened with “Money” and the crowd didn’t god da** breathe, let alone check their Smart Phones or scowl around, until the friendly proceedings were over.

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50 “On the Turning away” (A Momentary Lapse of Reason)
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This is about as gentle as psychedelia gets — but half of the bands out there were still ripping off Pink Floyd’s chord progressions half the time (which makes it all the more astonishing when you find Floyd ripping off The Who in “When You’re in.”
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49 “What Do You Want from Me?” (The Division Bell)
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I would always see The Division Bell in the used bins throughout the ‘90s and into the early ‘00s and by like “Ahhhhoohahhhhhhoohahhhh!” (cue in Ace Ventura face here)… it was almost as scary for its perceived lameness as Butthole Surfers – Electriclarryland was for its… scariness. Well, clearly I was wrong about it. One of the most off-putting things to me with an album is when one track doesn’t seem to converse properly with the others — when the individual songs seem on their own separate islands. That’s definitely not the case with Division Bell, an especial achievement particularly in tandem with the consideration of the notable stylistic variety from song to song.
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48 “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” (Ummagumma)
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A little synth heavy, but surely a trippy little sort of red-headed step-child number which never surfaced on any of the studio albums proper, materializing than in live version form for Ummagumma and in studio version form for greatest hits collection Relics (perhaps partially on the strength of a cheeky title, as it were).
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47 “Stay” (Obscured by Clouds)
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Sometimes, as in classic songs like “Stay” and in much of the excellent, even Dark Side-foreshadowing project Obscured by Clouds, it seems that the only obstacle between certain British acts and hit pop single prowess is their very Britishness (the accent, that is).
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46 “Dogs” (Animals)
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Again, the primary malady with Pink Floyd, other than of course the overly conceptual Roger Waters Wall crap, is the territory of the synth-heavy… some of these songs remind me of like being in a keyboard store and hearing a bunch of 11 year olds just fu**ing around on them.
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45 “Lost for Words” (The Division Bell)
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Ah, there’s that David Gilmour guitar we know and love — nice reflective tune here for end of day sojourns, although it definitely veers toward that post-Bruce Springsteen goopy pop territory which can be sort of problematic.
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44 “Childhood’s End” (Obscured by Clouds)
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Here we’re getting into the thick of the full trippiness of Obscured by Clouds, the immediate precursor to The Dark Side of the Moon — again this would be like Grand Funk Railroad’s best song if not for the thick English accent on it. I sense a whole other post materializing here.
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43 “Welcome to the Machine” (Wish You Were Here)
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I used to sort of like this extremely arhythmic, deliberately wry seven-minute session of quote-unquote “music,” until the classic rock station in Bloomington we’d listen to working at Mancino’s decided for some reason play it like every single day (perhaps they were prompting us to initiate a candlelight vigil and like whip ourselves or something).
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42 “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 1” (The Wall)
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HERE IT IS AGAIN! IT’S A BIG, MEANINGFUL STATEMENT! You know, there was probably a time when this stuff actually precipitated a clear vision and set of objectives in the listener — today it just seems like a stoner anthem prompting of blind rebellion for rebellion’s own sake. Still, the chord progression of the verse and that of the chorus do lay nicely upon each other.
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41 “Quicksilver” (More)
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“Quicksilver” is about as close you get to modern classical in classic rock — probably even closer than Zappa, whose unorthodox tirades tend more to be atonal although certainly arhythmic and seemingly structureless. At seven minutes long, it leaves no doubt that Floyd means to in its own way expand your mind.
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40 “Main Theme” (More)
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“Main Theme” is years and years ahead of its time, with an incessant, hypnotic bass riff looking very much ahead to the days of founding heavy metal, grunge and even hip-hop as well.
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39 “The Great Gig in the Sky” (The Dark Side of the Moon)
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I placed this song 39th, but if you the reader wanted to appeal and make a motion to move it to first, I’d abide, for simply this reason: it used to scare the SH** out of my friend who would play The Dark Side of the Moon is his basement. The blue-collar tweakers are struck again.
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38 “When You’re in” (Obscured by Clouds)
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THIS song is the one I thought really ripped off “Amazing Journey”/“Sparks”… but then, very few people have ever doubted that The Who is an entirely irreplaceable rock act. Props to Consequence of Sound for recently ranking Roger Daltrey the 20th best singer of all time, a figure many would be inclined to forget.
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37 “Hey You” (The Wall)
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Gugh… to be honest I find this Wall stuff a little cumbersome sometimes, but it does nonetheless move with a certain visceral energy, if taken in doses.
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36 “Fat Old Sun” (Atom Heart Mother)
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Great placid, contemplative tune here from their early, poppy days which I believe are absolutely their best days — serious art rock statements delivered with unquestionable poignance and genuineness.
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35 “One of These Days” (Meddle)
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Now, in a way listening to this song is foolish, since its intro has basically the exact same chord progression AND melodic rhythm as the intro of “Time,” and the histrionics of the rhythm section are more than directly exemplary of the The Wall playbook — but I suppose it’s valuable for its very referentiality, in a sense, in this regard.
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34 “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2” (The Wall)
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Yup… I placed this song 34th. Will I regret it? It is because of overexposure that I’ve developed a mild distaste for it? Time will tell, but considering how well earnestness and lightness had worked in Floyd lyrics up TO this point in their catalogue, this “dark sarcasm” can certainly come off as a bit tawdry.
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33 “Sheep” (Animals)
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Man, this sh** is just INTENSE. Make me really glad I’m not trippin’. And, as always, I’m also glad I’m not a sheep. Here’s to counting life’s little blessings.
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32 “Mudmen” (Obscured by Clouds)
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I am absolutely a sucker for this type of song which takes the tempo way, way down, but still carries a sort of latent intensity, or spookiness, about it — especially being as I am such a fan of grunge.
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31 “Crying Song” (More)
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The band’s true shift, evident upon a holistic examination of their catalogue, seems to be Roger Waters’ alteration from writer of these dreamy pop tunes to the more showy, faux-political statements: if you ask me, they’d got it right the first time with these eerie burgeoning numbers.
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30 “Us and Them” (The Dark Side of the Moon)
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This is a really good song… great to get stoned to and all that jazz… and I could have sworn there used to be like either some compilation or some book named after it, but now I see that last year “Roger Waters Announce(d) ‘Us and Them’ Live Tour,” so maybe I’m not completely smoking crack.
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29 “The Nile Song” (More)
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More is actually not a traditional studio album, but rather a movie soundtrack, and you might say that this song in particular, more than any other, exemplifies how in such a format the band can be even more expansive than ever, thrashing out in this case what may very well be the first ever document of hardcore punk rock.
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28 “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” (Animals)
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Ah, deliberate and funky… a fun and awesome achievement for any band to be able to accomplish, although the exact cause is a bit up in the air seeing as Parliament Funkadelic, according to Wikipedia, started in 1968.
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27 “Take up Thy Stethoscope and Walk” (The Piper at the Gates of Dawn)
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With the same nervous, frenetic Piper energy as “Lucifer Sam,” “Take up Thy Stethoscope and Walk” delves forth with a sort of kitschy singalong thing that for me personally, reminded me very much of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, who’d burst on the scene just one year before.
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26 “Have a Cigar” (Wish You Were Here)
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Ah, here is where the band is just settling into their deliberate groove and Rogers Waters is just absolutely shredding on guitar. It’s every bit the classic rock lover’s anthem as it is the stoner anthem, replete not least with the label-mocking lines “The band is just fantastic / That is really what I think / Oh by the way / Which one’s ‘Pink’?”
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25 “A Pillow of Winds” (Meddle)
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Preceding album centerpiece “Fearless” by one position, “A Pillow of Winds” sort of clumsily, broodingly assembles itself, somewhat like a sound check or a mic check to presage the real thing.
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24 “Dramatic Theme” (More)
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Ah, the movie soundtrack cut with the light, airy feel to it reminding me very much of Women album closeur “Flashlights.”
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23 “Obscured by Clouds” (Obscured by Clouds)
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Wow, there’s just such a GROOVE to this album that preceded The Dark Side of the Moon by only one slot — it’s hard to believe the band would so soon become so ethereal and conceptual, a move which probably ingratiated them to both more stoners and to popular success, at the same time, ironically.
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22 “Young Lust” (The Wall)
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Oh yeah, you can’t beat a good rocker like this… for obvious reasons, it reminds me of “Fat Bottom Girls,” which, perhaps problematically, also happens to be a pretty great song, at least by median rock and roll standards.
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21 “Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)”/“Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX)” (Wish You Were Here)
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Contemplating the length of this song, when conjoined with each of its two parts, is a bit like ruminating over the size of the universe — which, if the cause of Syd Barrett’s insanity, would make said length incredibly appropriate… luckily it’s more “epic” than it is long-seeming, so to speak.
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20 “Wot’s… Uh the Deal” (Obscured by Clouds)
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There is a total of two songs from Obscured by Clouds that I DIDN’T put on this list and this is certainly one of the best, the type of simple but almost archetypal pop ditty that would surely go on to influence Fleetwood Mac and many more.
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19 “San Tropez” (Meddle)
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OOH!… I love this song but hate to say that it’s definitely a very ardent Beatles NOD, if not necessarily a Beatles rip-off, with roughly the tempo and even part of the melody of “I’m Only Sleeping” and close to the exact rhythm guitar sound of “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill.” Eh, during certain crazy acid trips I could see actually coming to think that the Beatles and Pink Floyd were actually the same band (or during this vicious hangover I have right now, for that matter).
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18 “Cirrus Minor” (More)
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This is one lugubrious number… it’s hard to believe that the script of any bona fide film would actually be this low-energy but also compelling enough to retain its audience during a dirge like this. This is definitely the number one influence on Badfinger’s “Carry on Till Tomorrow,” which is really a fine song (although I hate when people use the spelling “till,” which actually means to hoe a field, to mean “until.” But then, I hate a lot of things about Badfinger, a condition in which I’m sure I’m not alone.
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17 “Poles apart” (The Division Bell)
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Gosh, it’s hard to believe this song is only 17th… this is one powerful statement on an album which, positioned with relative contemporaneity as it is in 1994, sounds every bit as “classic” as the band’s other material, on which Roger Waters played on, unlike this particular project.
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16 “Money” (The Dark Side of the Moon)
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The band were obviously just TRYING to be cheesy and overblown on The Dark Side of the Moon, what with the cash register sound effects on this track, along with the clock motifs on “Time” — give them credit for not making too much of a gripe that it took this ham-handedness for the world to truly catch on to them.
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15 “Astronomy Domine” (The Piper at the Gates of Dawn – UK Release)
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This song appears on the UK RELEASE of Piper at the Gates of Dawn and not the U.S. version — it’s definitely an intense ride, especially for being the first song on a band’s first album. They definitely weren’t trying to fit any particular mold, or follow in anybody else’s footsteps, this evident right from the start.
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14 “Burning Bridges” (Obscured by Clouds)
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This one sold me for the beauty of the steel guitar, a delicate, orchestral tone which thrives even more fully for how fluid the band is in starting together — there’s no stick countoff, but somehow they all chime in on their instruments at the exact same time and establish the flawlessly coordinated groove.
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13 “Seamus” (Meddle)
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Again, here is a keen Beatles guitar sound mimicry, if perhaps not to an excessive extent — “Blackbird” is called to mind by both the timbre and the technique.
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12 “Brain Damage”/“Eclipse” (The Dark Side of the Moon)
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Here we are with the cut in which the album title appears as lyrics, hence indicating some intention of the band to particularly spotlight what’s going on here… which is… a stoner anthem about a fictitious insanity, probably. Drama sells, that’s for sure.
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11 “The Gold It’s in the…” (Obscured by Clouds)
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This is another great title along with “Careful with That Axe, Eugene,” but the music appreciator will notice how this track viciously belts out what would basically become the reigning blueprint for ‘70s classic rock, whereupon of course the snare drums and guitar licks would only get louder.
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10 “Take it Back” (The Division Bell)
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I put this track on my “Beach Rock” mix I made in the admittedly strange time of February (hey we were having a week of 60-degree temperatures)… it’s got an incredible, faintly psychedelic brand of self-contentedness conveyed in expedited form, as if it were summing up the entire comedy of life all at once.
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9 “Lucifer Sam” (The Piper at the Gates of Dawn – UK Release)
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Wild and alive, “Lucifer Sam” I would think surely helped establish Pink Floyd as a benchmark British rock act — the unpredictable starts and stops of the music have the ironic function of making full sense, for their ability to simultaneously in their own way be just a bit fearsome.
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8 “Mother” (The Wall)
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This song, positioned sixth on disc one (whereas the excellent “Comfortably Numb” is positioned sixth on disc two, almost like a statement of like album powerhouses) is certainly a haunting look at maternal overprotection, more than likely to spawn in the listener a keen gut-check. What could be a greater gift than that?
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7 “Run Like Hell” (The Wall)
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Keepin’ it on Roger Waters’ masterpiece double concept album here — although if you were to ask me to explain it, I’m not fully sure I’d be able to, because part of the LP is about people being scared when they truly have no reason to be, whereas this song seems to be furnishing actual, bona fide threats. Perhaps he’s portraying himself as inside the mind of a paranoiac? Eh, tha’ll work.
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6 “Fearless” (Meddle)
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Very few other bands in history have to this extent mastered a certain simple, hypnotic beauty, with the possible exception of Jethro Tull (who by the way criminally are still not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) — the only problem possibly being that this stuff is SO subtle that you’re almost unlikely to even remember the experience, let alone the song’s title. And… that’s where I the blogger come in (smilin’).
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5 “Matilda Mother” (The Piper at the Gates of Dawn – UK Release)
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On this dark, precociously creeping album track of the initial studio project, the band’s primarily influences of the Beatles and the Mothers are grafted with almost irreversible undeniability — but the melodic and lyrical statements are made with such purpose, as well as such sinister force, as the surely allot it some special demarcation among the band’s other projects.
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4 “Learning to Fly” (A Momentary Lapse of Reason)
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A song so good even the wet “‘80s” snare sound is excused, “Learning to Fly” is a continually playable pop anthem, a juke box favorite with a constantly adapting and morphing chorus, symbolic perhaps of all the necessary change inherent to life itself. The “circling skies” are constantly referenced (kind of an intriguing hallucinatory vision) and this exact image is evoked well enough by the music itself to where it finally becomes hard to distinguish one of these archetypal elements of the song from another.
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3 “Time” (The Dark Side of the Moon)
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Darn, I really wanted this song to go “Digging away the moments that make up a dull day”, partly for the whole alliteration thing… anyway, this is another example of that gut-check brand of lyrics of which David Gilmour is almost uniquely capable. Nine months ago I made a comment on facebook that it’s ok, though, to idle in your hometown for 10 years, despite what’s voiced in this song. You know what? I changed my mind. It’s time for livin’.
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2 “Comfortably Numb” (The Wall)
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This may, may be the only, single song on this entire list which features strings in any right (I can’t think of any others off the top of my head)… and ironically enough, they are what sends it from great territory to elating, swirling and swooping like the “skies” described in “Learning to Fly,” with lyrics which, though ominously unreliable, come off as warm for their specificity and penchant for furnishing crystalline images in the mind.
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1 “Wish You Were Here” (Wish You Were Here)
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To be honest, ever since high school, these have been my favorite two Pink Floyd songs, these top two on this list — they’re approximately the same tempo as each other, and they don’t try to do too much. They’re completely at ease as they are, comfortable fitting into any situation and not overbearing or trying to make any non-musical statement. Their regularness, indeed, is part of their appeal — approximating the absolute ideal connotation of the word “everyday,” a strikingly blue-collar achievement for the masters of cosmic psychedelia. When I visited Philly, a place which we Midwesterners might imagine contains the potential to boil over into violence or at least hold a tense sort of vibe, this song in the bar Caroline’s was a precociously calming element, despite its seeming innocuousness. He**, the third-place Phillies weren’t doin’ much to cool things down, that’s for sure (by the way those fu**ers had the Phillies on every TV and wouldn’t change it to the Blackhawks Finals game).

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