Wish You Were Here
[recorded Jan/Jun '75, premiered May '75, released Sep '75]
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (parts I-V)
Welcome To The Machine
Have A Cigar
Wish You Were Here
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (parts VI-IX)

    This will always be one of my favorite Pink Floyd albums, even though my thoughts about it keep changing.  It is a very logical follow-up to DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, having something of a continuation of the "we love poor nutty Syd" theme, and the "feeling of loss" theme.  The music is often deliberate, though melodic, and once in awhile borders on the soporific.  Still, it can rock from time to time, and there is the edge to some parts of the songs that we have come to expect from Pink Floyd.  If you liked DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, you will probably like WISH YOU WERE HERE too, since there is a very logical progression of growth in the band from one to the other.  This album ended up #1 on the charts, fulfilling some of the prophecy of the character in the song Have A Cigar.
    One of the themes of this album is that of absence {CPFS}. Syd is absent, though ironically, he appeared at the recording studio while the band was making this album.  (Sadly, he had changed so drastically that it was rather traumatic for the band to see what he had become.)  Love and compassion are absent, since the band seems to have been finally dragged by the recording industry into the same impersonal, money-oriented world as so many other promising groups (with the exception that Pink Floyd continues to fight back, successfully).  According to the story, the band itself was rather absent here, not really coming together well, spatting sometimes, and goofing off a bit too much during recording sessions.  You might have to wonder whether the success of DARK SIDE OF THE MOON thrust the band into unfamiliar territory, since they had previously been much more used to being thought of as the artistic {CPFS}, unusually experimental group {CPFS}, and now had become suddenly widely popular.  (Another irony, after this album was released, the band itself became absent, doing no concerts for 18 months.)

    Shine On, You Crazy Diamond is an 8-part suite that leads off the album, and begins a typical Pink Floyd loop {CPFS}, that builds slowly through the first 4 parts, and then returns to close out the album.  As usual with the Floyd, the parts are rather difficult to separate.  This is the first time an album actually begins with a dreamscape, slowly building into a solid rock ballad that seems to be their final love letter to Syd.  In many ways, it encourages him to rise up from his ashes and perhaps return to the life of creative artistry he'd lost.  (That would not happen.)  Unlike many of their previous dreamscapes{CPFS}, which often meander rather aimlessly through a variety of Rick Wright experimentations, this one builds logically (though slowly) into the main theme, and later recedes just as logically.  The musical heart of this tune is a simple 4-note pattern that Dave had had on his mind for some time, and decided was now ripe for use. {CPFS}   Nobody since Beethoven has been able to do as much with 4 notes as Pink Floyd can.  The ringing sound of these notes reverberates throughout the album, providing a sense of security within the experimentation of the music.  There is a defiant, triumphant emphasis in the music - it is definitely good to shine.  Remarkably, Dave wrote most of the rest of the music after Roger had penned the lyrics.   This part of the loop ends with another marvelous Dick Parry saxophone solo, meandering off into the distance, from whence he will return later...
    Welcome To The Machine is a song I always thought ought to be turned into a movie short.  It's mostly about the grind that bands go through in creating their albums, which requires them to produce songs and ideas as though they were literally an industry.  As usual, with slide guitars{CPFS} and flowing keyboard lines, the band kills us softly with their satiric leanings.  The driving, pounding rhythm of the machinery ambient behind this soaring, melodic instrumentation {CPFS} creates such an ambiguous tension within us that we are compelled to follow through to the end.  In the end, they "know where you've been", you've been inside the machine!
    Have A Cigar portrays the music industry at its worst.  The character in the song doesn't understand what the band is trying to achieve, what they've been through, or even who they are ("Oh, by the way, which one's Pink?").  This funk-rock piece also takes an unusual turn when we realize that Roy Harper is singing the lyrics.  Roger later said he wished he hadn't used Roy, because that introduced an element to the music that just wasn't Pink Floyd.  Personally, I think it worked perfectly, because the catch here is that the character HAS to be a sleazy, slimy agent type, who is only interested in "the deal".  No member of the Floyd could have pulled that off as convincingly.
    Wish You Were Here is an incredible acoustic ballad.  This is Pink Floyd at its best.  The melodies, harmonies, and effects are all top-notch, and it should be (and probably is) a cult classic.  It basically asks whether we have managed, through all the manipulation and nonsense (read: B.S.), to hang on to our values and sense of purpose.  I think Roger is, in some ways, continuing to wonder how differently things would have turned out if Syd were still around.  If you only have 10 Pink Floyd songs on tape, make this one of them.  (Heck, if you only have 10 songs TOTAL on tape, make this one of them.)
    ...and then Dick Parry and his saxophone return from limbo, complete the loop, and bring us the rest of Shine On You Crazy Diamond.  This is not strictly a coda, since it continues, rather than repeats the initial concept.  It also brings the album to its logical conclusion, reminding us all to shine.
    In all, it's a great album, that pretty much demands that we set aside enough time to listen start-to-finish.
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