[released November 1971]
One of These Days
A Pillow of Winds
San Tropez

    On their first LP with 16-track recording, Pink Floyd took full advantage of the new technology to advance their music another step.  At a time when most bands didn't have a clue what to do with 4 tracks, the Floyd was actually limited by the technology.  Quadrupling the number of tracks allowed for an unprecedented depth to the Floyd's recordings.  Ironically, the general listening public probably never really knew what they were missing until the advent of CD's and digital headphones, which finally provided the technology that would enable us to hear all that was actually recorded.
    MEDDLE continues the development of the true Floyd sound that Atom Heart Mother had begun.  It is home to Echoes, probably the first true Pink Floyd piece.  It is still a rather experimental album {CPFS}, and some of the experiments really don't work very well.  As always, some of what the Floyd tries to do ends up misunderstood, but I guess that's par for their sort of course.

    One Of These Days is in the tradition of Careful With That Axe, Eugene, and other Floyd tunes that leave us wondering whether the boys are slightly warped.  (Yes, and there's nothing wrong with that.) Roger got to playing around with the electronic equipment to see what he could do with repetitive bass patterns, and the result is this driving bass rocker that I always thought would make a great musical intro to a TV show.  Hidden in the background are a few nice licks by Dave on guitar (though the piece would have been greatly improved if they'd have turned him loose on a tech solo in the middle), and some pounding drum work by Nick.  The only words are the full title ("One of these days, I'm going to cut you into little pieces") spoken by Nick into a modulator.  Weird, to be sure, but very satisfying.
    A Pillow of Winds is, I think, a nice ballad with moderately poetic lyrics {CPFS} and an enjoyable flow.  Floyd is not known for writing love songs, so it's unusual in that respect.  It lacks a little edge, and so is not a great piece, but I'm still not sure why no one else seems to value it at all.
    Fearless is a sort of personal anthem for all those who feel pushed by others to do things before the time is ripe.  It has a distinct Led Zeppelin flavor ( listen to this one and ***  back to back), but Led Zep would have NEVER thought of using a wild Irish crowd for background singers {CPFS}.  Like most pieces on this album, it is low-key and lacks the hard edge of their later work.  I keep wondering if it's an electric banjo that sets the tone here, but whatever it is, it's simply perfect.  The band reminds us to make our life happen in its own time at our own pace, be true to ourselves, and ignore the fools who think they know better than we do.  Then the crowd reminds us that we'll "never walk alone" (an absolutely inspired choice of music!).
    Then comes San Tropez, and you ask yourself, "Why?"  The closest I can come to a reasonable explanation is that Pink Floyd wanted to write a pop song that sounded like they thought San Tropez would look.  I'll admit that it's very San Tropezish, but it's not much of a song.
    Seamus, on the other hand, really does have a slight redeeming value.  The guys heard this howling dog, which made them almost split a gut laughing.  Like thousands (millions?) of other ambient sounds, they recorded it, then wrote a song to go around it, hoping that you'd laugh too.  Unfortunately, most people upon hearing it just rejected it out of hand.  You have to remember that almost everything Pink Floyd has ever done, they have done for a reason.  (Except, perhaps, for San Tropez)
    Though most of the music up to now has been enjoyable (did you need some Pepto-Bismol after San Tropez?), it is Echoes that provides the raison d'être for this album.  David Gilmour says this was the next logical step in the sequence that ended with DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, and you can definitely see the deliberate workings of the Pink Floyd mind forming, reshaping, and preparing.  This is quintessential Floyd, and it's a shame that the piece isn't more well known.  It's length, of course, kept it from getting any radio air-time, but the concept is carried throughout, resulting in a piece that is especially open to interpretation.  [I have found, from experiments with my students, that many modern listeners are conditioned to turn off their brains after about 3 minutes (OK, some far sooner), so this song, as most Pink Floyd music, requires an active listener.]  The song begins with a Rick Wright sound experiment, hitting just one high note for a penetrating PING! (PINK?) that evolves into a very interesting piece.  It is something of a sonata, having a free-form opening, a rock ballad section, a funk portion, a spacey dreamscape {CPFS}, and a coda that returns to the ballad, then fades out {CPFS} with complex additions.  Few people would imagine that any group could make such good use of running scales, but Dave makes it interesting, and really shines on the background solos.  The lyrics are very artistic, and leave many possible interpretations available to the listener.  I hesitate here to tell you mine, but if you really want to see it (AFTER listening to the piece) you can scroll down below the links.  Suffice it to say, this one piece is worth waiting for, and worth thinking about.
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    Well, if you've bothered to go this far, I guess you deserve to get the story.  Like most Pink Floyd songs, Echoes needs to be seen on many different levels.  I'll just mention my thoughts on two of those levels.  Musically, I always have the same concept in mind when I listen to this song.  In the beginning, I am on the beach (I'll admit to being influenced by the lyrics at this point), with soft waves rolling in and seagulls hanging in the air, the sun shining brightly, but soft.  In the second section, I step into a submarine, and begin to move away from the shore, and, eventually, submerge.  (That PING always makes me think of "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" [an ancient, submarine TV show])  As the funky section (my submerging) melts into the dreamscape {CPFS}, I am 'way down in the very depths of the ocean, with deep-diving whales and coelacanths and those little fish with lights hanging off their heads.  Then, we come back to the surface in time to get the final verse, and eventually rise into the air.  [I am feeling all of this without the aid of any drugs whatsoever!] (I'm an active listener!)
    Lyrically, I hear something different almost every time I listen to this song.  There are a couple of items worth mentioning (if you've come this far).  I really see the lyrics as 3 sections.  The first section relates to echoes of past ages that one might feel when visiting the seashore, where life often seems timeless and disconnected.  The chorus tells us that we cannot achieve full connection to whatever happened back then, but it does inspire a process within us that moves us toward understanding.  The second section relates to the echoes that resound when we meet someone, and realize that they have common experiences, interests, and ideas.  The chorus reminds us that, though we are not compelled to separate from them, we end up doing so anyway.  The third section, after the dreamscape, is something of an enigma.  Taking the simplest approach, he is talking to the sun, who breaks through his window each day, calling him to begin anew.  At this point, I get a really eerie feeling.  By now, Roger has used the term "no-one" so often, that I've come to feel that it is actually a person or force, rather than the absence of one. {CPFS}  I really believe that this is the first time that he has let out his feelings about the loss of his father.  In the last chorus, he seems to miss the person who should sing him to sleep and tell him it's time to go to bed, and you can almost imagine him flinging open the shutters and crying out his father's name, praying for some response.  If I'm right on this, it's quite a unique occurrence, because when Roger later shares his agony about his father's death (THE WALL, THE FINAL CUT), it's in a very strong, angry way.