Tuesday, May 4, 2021

25 Greatest Songs of Sade

 25 Greatest Songs of Sade

Sade is one of those musicians that comes around only once in a generation. She is strikingly beautiful, glamorous, an image of strength, her voice is instantly recognizable, perfect pitch and soothing timbre, and her band is one of the hottest jazz/R&B bands of the past 75 years.

Sade's music has remained steadily popular since 1984 to the current day. All their studio albums have been certified triple platinum or better in the US, with the exception of 2010s "Soldier of Love," which at this point in time is single platinum.

Before we move on to my Top 25 - these are the songs that just missed the list - but are still all great.

40. Pearls (1992)
39. Long Hard Road (2010)
38. Clean Heart (1988)
37. Why Can't We Live Together (1984)
36. King of Sorrow (2000)
35. In Another Time (2010)
34. Never As Good As The First Time (1985)
33. Give It Up (1988)
32. Still In Love With You (2011)
31. Baby Father (2010)
30. Please Send Me Someone To Love (1993)
29. Haunt Me (1988)
28. Love Is Found (2011)
27. Flower of the Universe (2018)
26. Kiss of Life (1992)

(Just as a reminder this is all subjective and some people will not agree with this list - this is just one person's viewpoint)

25. Skin (2010)
Parent Album: Soldier of Love
"Skin" is representative of Sade at her sophisti-pop best and this is 26 years into her music career. How many musicians still sound this fresh and relevant this far into their career?

The song is a classic breakup tune yet done in a cool and calm downtempo so much that it almost feels like an easygoing love song instead of heartbreak.

Skin (2010)

24. By Your Side (2000)
Parent Album: Lovers Rock
Sade sings this sophisticated soul infused folk tune with a sincere warmth successfully conveying her message of unconditional loyalty in love (romantic and platonic). 

By Your Side (2000)

23. Jezebel (1985)
Parent Album: Promise
Sade's vocal on "Jezebel" is filled with a mystique fitting for the song's enigmatic and somehow enchanting lyric. It"s nothing short of brilliance how Sade can fashion her voice in such an unassuming manner that it is stunning.

Equally compelling is Stuart Matthewman's understated saxophone solos. He plays with a cool smoothness that reaches in and grabs your soul.

Jezebel (1985)

22. The Moon and the Sky (2010)
Parent Album: Soldier of Love
I melt everytime I hear Sade sing the opening line, "I was the one," she uses a deeper tone than her normal which works well with her silky smooth style. Sade's voice carries this song with it's elegant phrasing, unique timing and graceful coziness which combined brings this song (and all her song's) a dusky sort of glamour.

The Moon and The Sky (2010)

21. Slave Song (2000)
Parent Album: Lover's Rock
The bulk of Sade's songs are love songs - good love and sad love songs. However "Slave Song" is a spiritual song that teaches us that even in slavery, even in deep torment we can do good. It is in that good where we find that light, where we reach that light and we find strength and wisdom.

Slave Song (2000)

20. Bullet Proof Soul (1992)
Parent Album: Love Deluxe
"Bullet Proof Soul" is about a one sided love in which Sade loves a man who does not truly love her back. He using her to fulfill his own ego - using love as his weapon by trying to make her believe she could never find anybody better than him. But through the course of this she finds herself and builds a strong and protective 'bullet proof soul" which enables her to move on stronger and better than before. 

Bullet Proof Soul (1992)

19. Frankie's First Affair (1984)
Parent Album: Diamond Life
"Frankie's First Affair," is another one of Sade's non-traditional love songs. Sade's specialty are those off the edge love songs such as "Smooth Operator," and "Bullet Proof Soul."

"Frankie's First Affair" has a catchy tuneful chorus that stick with you long after the song has finished.

Frankie's First Affair (1984)

18. Love Is Stronger Than Pride (1988)
Parent Album: Stronger Than Pride
Sade's voice is the obvious highlight in all her song's. It's next to impossible not to be enraptured by her dreamy phrasing and articulation.

As with all her song's there is so much more to examine. In this song I am especially enamored by Martin Ditcham's subtle percussive meditations. Ditcham is a prolific session drummer/percussionist, who has worked with artists such as Elton John, Roger Daltrey, Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, and several others.

Love Is Stronger Than Pride (1988)

17. Nothing Can Come Between Us (1988)
Parent Album: Stronger Than Pride
"Nothing Can Come Between Us" delivers us a more upbeat Sade and was one of her biggest R&B hits making it to #3 to on the US R&B chart. It even made it's way into the dance clubs. 

Stuart Matthewman, who also plays saxophone for Sade, puts in one of his best funk guitar performances. Also notable are the harmony vocals performed by Leroy Osborne. Osborne's voice blends perfectly with Sade's, maintaining a smooth grooveness on a Smokey Robinson-Marvin Gaye sort of vane. Osborne has also done backing or harmony vocals with musicians as diverse as Altered Images, Shakatak, Wham, Rick Astley, Kylie Minogue, and Bananarama.

Nothing Can Come Between Us (1988)

16. The Big Unknown (2018)
Parent Album: Widows (Soundtrack)
One of Sade's most soulful and powerful vocals of her career. 34 years into her career, at age 59, her voice is as compelling and emotive as it was on her dazzling debut album "Diamond Life." Some would argue that with age and experience her voice has a deeper and increased soulful edge to it.

"The Big Unknown" is featured in the motion picture Widows directed by Steve McQueen (the British filmaker) and centered on four women forced to pull off a robbery to pay a large criminal debt left behind by their late husbands. McQueen had conversations with Sade about the movie and asked her to write a song about "loss and survival".

The music video features Viola Wills, the Academy, Emmy, and Tony Award winning actress who stars in the ABC TV drama How to Get Away With Murder.

The Big Unknown (2018)

15. Cherish the Day (1992)
Parent Album: Love Deluxe
The minimalist music arrangement serves to keep the focus on the song's hidden soulful joy. The song isn't skipping over rainbows or walking on sunshine but is filled with an inbred joy within it's subdued guitar chords and understated rhythms. 

A stand out factor of the song is Sade's exotic phrasing and timing. She sings each word with care and spaces her words out with languid effect. 

An interest sidenote, this unassuming trip-hop number made it to #23 on the US Dance chart.

Cherish The Day (1992)

14. Is It A Crime (1985)
Parent Album: Promise
From Sade's second studio album, "Is It A Crime," successfully builds from a quiet downtempo verse to an amplified wall of sound chorus. Sade's smokey vocal performance demonstrates a raw and soulful power beautifully executed in Sade's inimitable serene style.

Stuart Matthewman's saxophone adds a slightly harder edge to the otherwise magically subdued love song. 

Is It A Crime (1985)

13. Lovers Rock (2000) 
Parent Album: Lovers Rock
I did not know that there was a subgenre of reggae called Lovers rock until I began research on this song for this blog post. Lovers rock is noted for its romantic sound and lyrical content. Artists like Johnny Nash (I Can See Clearly Now) and Ken Boothe (Everything I Own) are examples of early lovers rock.

A light Jamaican rhythm backs Sade's sultry and emotive voice. The percussion gives the song a smooth flowing reggae vibe.

If there was any Sade song that could be considered a missed opportunity, it's this one. It's memorable chorus stays with you long after the song has ended. With a length of just under three minutes radio stations would have picked it up right away.

Lovers Rock (2000)

12. Mr. Wrong (1985)
Parent Album: Promise
Two things caught me right away on "Mr. Wrong," the cool mood and the lightly tribal percussive sounds. I love the drums and percussion on this song and I am predominantly a fan of the electric guitar. When it comes to electric guitar Stuart Matthewman's understated string bending is wholly effective at elongating his notes and extending the mood of the song.

Best of all is Sade's hypnotic reading of these lyrics. She gives the song an irony filled sort of cool jazz attitude.

Mr. Wrong (1985)

11. Cherry Pie (1984)
Parent Album: Diamond Life
It's that funk influenced bass line at the beginning that really draws the listener in. Stuart Matthewman's scorching guitar licks enter the mix and the song becomes a hot burning jazz filled soul groove. 

"Cherry Pie" received was used as the B-side of "Hang on To Your Love" in Canada giving the song an extra boost on the Canadian market. However, "Cherry Pie" was strong enough to have been an A-side single itself.

Cherry Pie (1984)

10. Paradise (1988)
Parent Album: Stronger Than Pride
One of the strongest factors of "Paradise" is the vocal mix. Once again we find Leroy Osbourne singing backup and harmony vocals alongside Sade's voice. His rich voice adds warmth to her cool voice. 

"Paradise" is one of Sade's biggest hits reaching the Top 20 in Canada and the US and charting high in Belgium, Finland, France, Netherlands, and the UK. The upbeat rhythmic song was also a hit on the US Dance charts and Adult Contemporary charts as well as #1 on the R&B charts.

Paradise (1988)

9. Feel No Pain (1992)
Parent Album: Love Deluxe
This song was written in 1992 during a time when the UK was experiencing and economic recession. The prime minister at the time was John majors, the leader of the conservative party, and the unemployment rate was right at about 10%. Sade, whose music is generally not political in nature, made commentary on this painful time in history.

The steady percussive pattern intensifies the hard hitting feeling of unemployment and losing your income.

Feel No Pain (1992)

8. Immigrant (2000)
Parent Album: Lovers Rock
There is a lot of amazing going on in this song. Let's start with the lyrics. Although it is a hard hitting topic of racism and prejudice, Sade assembled her words with beauty, eloquence, grace, and heartfelt emotion. Just listening to the lyrics and how Sade sings them you can hear her sincerity in conveying a message which is obviously important to her.

Two lines I find especially poignant in addressing this issue at the beginning Sade sings, "Coming from where he did. He was turned away from every door like Joseph," Sade makes the inference that this man who migrated to a foreign land was not welcome by its natives. She compares him to Joseph of Nazareth who wad turned away by the innkeepers who was looking for a place to rest for his wife Mary, who was pregnant with the baby Jesus.

The next line, "He didn't know what it was to be black, 'til they gave him his change, but didn't want to touch his hand," is especially hard hitting. I have seen this happen first hand. Back around 1994 while in line at a restaurant to pick up a to go order, the man in front of me was getting his order. The cashier was a young black male probably around 20 years old. He had the bag of food in his hand to hand over to the man. But the man said, "no put it down." Then he gestured toward a white lady behind the counter and asked her to put the food in a clean bag and then hand it to him. The lady refused so the man left without his food. When I came my turn, I grabbed the young cashier's hand and put my money into his hand and told him to keep the change and that he was doing a great job.

I mentioned earlier that there was a lot of amazing going on in this song. Included in that amazing is the song's seamless vocal arrangement. Once again Leroy Osbourne compliments Sade's lead vocal with his pitch perfect harmonies. Stewart Matthewman took the Sade's and Osbourne's vocal parts and blended them together with a hint of electronic programming which gives the song a slight experimental sound. Sade's lead vocal is precise and lovingly piercing adding to the emotional factor of the song.

The less is more aspect of the musical arrangement is highly impactful with the thoughtful placement of the delicate chiming piano to the urban hip hop beats giving the song a sophistication that brings the message across loud and strong.

Immigrant (2000)

7. Soldier of Love (2010)
Parent Album: Soldier of Love
Upon the release of Sade's sixth studio album, "Soldier of Love, I was immediately impressed with the fact that the entire core band Sade was still intact. Twenty six years later they are all there; Andrew Hale: keyboards, Paul S. Denman: bass, Stuart Matthewman: saxophone and guitar, and of course Sade. Even some of the regular side musicians were there Leroy Osbourne (backing vocals), Martin Ditcham (drums), Mike Pela (co-produced).

The album is arguably Sade's most successful as far as chart positions. It reached #1 in 14 countries around the world as well as making it into the Top 5 in another ten countries. The album was especially popular in Poland where it was the #1 of 2010.

The song "Soldier of Love," was the album's first single and was a moderate success. The song made it into the Top 10 in Belgium, Finland, and Japan. It was #1 on the US Jazz chart and won the Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

Soldier of Love (2010)

6. Killer Blow (1986)
Parent Album: Absolute Beginners (Soundtrack)
100% pure jazz!!!
This song was a pleasant surprise find for me when I purchased the album. I bought it for the two David Bowie songs, "Absolute Beginners" and "That's Motivation." The soundtrack album opened with Bowie's "Absolute Beginners" and after listening to that song "Killer Blow" arrived and I was blown away. As much as I am a Bowie fan, it is the Sade song that became and remains my favorite from the album.

This is one of those rare occasions in which Sade stepped away from her fantastic band and was backed by a different set of musicians. The band backing her is the British jazz band Working Week. The spicy horn chart was composed by Gil Evans

Evans produced and arranged the Absolute Beginners soundtrack as well as the soundtrack for The Color of Money. Early on Evans collaborated with Miles Davis, Stan Kenton, and Charlie Parker. In 1970 he arranged a meeting with Jimi Hendrix to discuss collaborating together on an album. Unfortunately Hendrix died before that meeting ever happened.

Killer Blow (1986)

5. Hang On To Your Love (1984)
Parent Album: Diamond Life
In the United States this is where it all began. It was the first Sade song to be released in the US. It became a huge hit in dance clubs reaching #5 on the US Dance charts. 

This sophisticated, smooth and soulful song, which is driven by a thick and powerful bassline, is rich with melody and a post-disco groove that lit up dancefloors across the US.

Hang On To Your Love (1984)

4. Sweetest Taboo (1985)
Parent Album: Promise
Once again Sade (the band) displays their ability to craft a song that is sophisticated yet fresh and filled with youthful mystery. While Sade (the singer) proves her ability to sing in a tuneful manner that is both cool and yearnful. 

As per usual, Sade wrote the lyrics.Martin Ditcham, the band's percussionist co-wrote the song with Sade. He composed the soulful slightly sophisto-funk music.

The song was fairly successful reaching the Top 15 in about a dozen countries around the world. In the US it made it to #5 and was #1 on the US Adult Contemporary chart.

Sidenote: In the lyrics Sade sings the line, "There's a quiet storm," several times throughout the song. This is a reference to the Quiet Storm radio format, a smooth groovin' soulful R&B style which has been around for 70 years but became popular in the 1989s with musicians such as Marvin Gaye, The Dramatics, The Temptations, Roberta Flack, Gladys Knight, and a host of others.

Sweetest Taboo (1985)

3. No Ordinary Love (1992)
Parent Album: Love Deluxe
Drummer/percussionist Martin Ditcham opens the song with a permeating pulse that drives the mood and rhythm of the song.

"No Ordinary Love" is about an improbable and unusual romance, which seems to be a recurring theme in Sade's songs. Sade does not write your typical, "I love you, you love me, everything is beautiful" love songs. There's always a twist or a catch to Sade's theme of love.

The song's music video is directed by Sophie Miller, who also directed the videos for "By Your Side," "Baby Father," and "Soldier if Love." The video features Sade as an exotic mermaid who morphs into a bride looking for her sailor.

No Ordinary Love (1992)

2. Your Love Is King (1984)
Parent Album: Diamond Life
In this song Sade combines the sensual with the spiritual. At times the lyrics could almost double as a contemporary Christian tune with lines such as; "Your kisses ring round and round and round my head," can refer to the holy kiss from God which reverberates through to the soul, this ringing around my head.

The line; "Touching the very part of me, it's making my soul sing," represents how God’s love touches the soul and can bring joy to your soul. 

The line, “Tearing the very heart in me. I’m crying out for more,” lines up with Biblical teaching that when we face those dark parts of our heart we experience a cleansing, which brings on feelings of joy and freedom. It is a feeling so freeing that you are crying out for more.

Your love is king: God is often referred to as King. Sade has spoken about God in other songs. Never need to part expresses her devotion to God.

"Your love is king, you're the ruler of my heart," in several old hymns, God is referred to as "the ruler."

This song is an ode to joy. It's refreshing and freeing.

"Your Love Is King" was Sade's debut single and one of their biggest hits having reached #2 in New Zealand, #6 in the UK, #7 in Ireland. Despite it's good showing in other parts of the world, in the US it only made it to #54.

Your Love Is King (1984)

1. Smooth Operator (1984)
Parent Album: Diamond Life
While it's easy to argue any host of Sade sings could fit the bill of the band's signature tune - "Your Love Is King," "Hang On To Your Love," "The Sweetest Taboo," "No Ordinary Love" are all good contenders. But when it comes right down to it "Smooth Operator" is by far Sade's best known song. 

"Smooth Operator" was Sade's breakout hit in the US and was their first song to chart in practically every country in Europe. The song was also #1 on the US Adult Contemporary charts as well as #11 in the US Dance chart. The song was played across the spectrum of various types of radio stations. It was one of the most played songs of 1985.

The song is about a jet-setting international playboy who's playing hearts and breaking hearts across the big casino, night life areas. Mentioned in the song are; L.A., Chicago, and Key Largo. 

The lyric is one of Sade's best containing words of clever imagery; "Diamond nights and Ruby light." She mention the classic film, "Streetcar desire," in an unassuming way. She bends the rules of rhyme with lines like "shadow box and doublecross." And inserts clever cliche; "A license to love, insurance to hold." 

"Smooth Operator" was written in 1982 when Sade was still with the band Pride. She co-wrote the song with Pride band member Ray St. John. Pride never recorded the song. A few years later Sade records the song with her new band Sade. 

Smooth Operator (1984)

Thank you for visiting my blog. Hope you enjoyed this post. Please leave a comment and tell us what your favorite Sade songs are.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

25 Greatest Songs of Pink Floyd

A band like Pink Floyd has many many great songs. One could argue that every song they ever recorded is great. This list painfully narrows it down to 25 songs. Many great songs are left out and we all have our opinions as to what are the greatest of the greats. This blog post is just one person's opinion regarding some of Pink Floyd's greatest songs. 

There is a big misconception regarding Pink Floyd's music. Many people believe their music is about drugs and partying. But once you do a deeper inspection of their music you come to recognize that their songs are about love, nature, airplanes, spirituality and getting in touch with the demons and beauty in your mind.

online with Pink Floyd: https://summerdisco.wixsite.com/pink-floyd-online

Before moving on to the 25 greatest, I want to share what bubbled under the 25:
45 Bike (1967)
44 One Slip (1987)
43 Remember A Day (1968)
42 On The Turning Away (1987)
41 Cymbaline (1969)
40 Astronomy Domine (1967)
39 Biding My Time (1969)
38 Paint Box (1967)
37 Chapter 24 (1967)
36 Point Me At The Sky (1968)
35 Arnold Layne (1967)
34 Louder Than Words (2014)
33 Summer 68 (1970)
32 Matilda Mother (1967)
31 If (1970)
30 San Tropez (1971)
29 Welcome to the Machine (1975)
28 Waiting For The Worms (1979)
27 Young Lust (1979)
26 Is There Anybody Out There? (1979)

25. Not Now John (1983)
Parent Album: The Final Cut
This is one of Pink Floyd's hardest rocking songs. David Gilmour's lead vocal is uncharacteristically aggressive yet every bit as effective as his smooth delivery we've grown accustom to hearing such as on songs like "Wish You Were Here" and "Us and Them."

Both Roger Waters and David Gilmour put in some of their best guitar work, "Not Now John" is truly a guitar lover's song. Included are electric and acoustic guitar, rhythm guitar and twelve-string guitar. David Gilmour's lead guitar parts are bold and dynamic giving the song a powerful boost.

Not Now John (1983)

24. Mother (1979)
Parent Album: The Wall
Roger Waters sings the song with an indifferent and cold delivery. It's in his indifference that we find a reflective emotion.

The lyrics follow in the same pattern; a reflective yet indifferent emotion. Roger Waters goes through a series of questions, that maybe a psychologically disturbed man might ask his Mother. The themes of these questions vary widely, sometimes not related to each other, somewhat disjointed. Waters asks, "Mother, do you think they'll drop the bomb?" "Mother, do you think they'll like the song?" "Mother do you think she's good enough?" 

Probably the most interesting question is, "Mother, should I build the wall?" This could imply a wall such as the Berlin wall, a wall which represented oppression and division. Most likely the wall could represent a shutting off from society and other people in general - becoming a recluse that hides away from social contact.

Again David Gilmour gives his classic and signature guitar solo. His style is recognizable and unique.

Mother (1979)

23. See Emily Play (1967)
Parent Album: Non-Album Single
This is really an amazing and underrated song. Whenever I hear this one and others like "Arnold Layne," I think what a shame that Syd Barrett did not make it too far with Pink Floyd. There were a few non-album singles and "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" (1967) was Syd Barrett's masterpiece. He wrote (or co-wrote) ten of the eleven songs as well as played electric guitar on all but one song and sang lead vocals. "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" was Pink Floyd's masterful debut and showed much promise. In 1968 Pink Floyd released their second album "A Saucerful of Secrets" and this time Barrett contributed to only three of the seven songs and wrote only one. This was the last Pink Floyd album in which Syd Barrett appeared. I often wonder what Syd Barrett would have created, how he would have progressed with Pink Floyd had he been able to keep it together and forge ahead with the band. But than I think that if he continued with PF we most likely would not have had albums like "Dark Side of the Moon, "Wish You Here" or "The Wall." 

"See Emily Play" is wonderful quirky classic with some wild piano by Richard Wright and some tasty electric guitar chords by Barrett interspersed throughout. The song reached #6 in the UK and #10 in Ireland.

See Emily Play (1967)

22. Cirrus Minor (1969)
Parent Album: More (Soundtrack)
The first time I listened to this song I had to play it over again. I didn't hear the title mentioned in the lyrics so I went back and listened to each word closely. It took awhile before any singing started. The first minute is nature sounds - mostly birds chirping. Finally an acoustic guitar softly fades in and the vocal starts. I am listening close to each word. I am mesmerized by the quality of sounds and the artful flow of the words. The lyrics paint a vivid imagery describing a lazy afternoon sitting by the river. The music has a tranquil sort of mind-altering effect to it. The title "cirrus minor" is mentioned only once toward the end of the vocal portion.

Cirrus Minor (1969)

21. Goodbye Blue Sky (1979)
Parent Album: The Wall
The opening of "Goodbye Blue Sky" begins with David Gilmour's voice multi-tracked to create a Beach Boys-like harmony vocal. This song is a real treat for me as I am a real fan of David Gilmour's voice.

Goodbye Blue Sky (1979)

20. Have a Cigar (1975)
Parent Album: Wish You Were Here
I have long been stupified as to the fact that "Have A Cigar" failed to chart in both the US and UK. "Cigar" was similar in topic to "Money" revolving around greed. The song also featured a "phat" and chunky bass line as did "Money," I just assumed the song would follow "Money" up the charts - I was wrong. Who knows maybe if they would have had David Gilmour (or Roger Waters) do the lead vocals the songs chart performance may have been different.

"Have a Cigar" received extra mileage in 1979 when disco group Rosebud released an electronic disco-rock cover of the song. Rosebud took their recording of "Have A Cigar" all the way to #4 on the US disco charts.

Have A Cigar (1975)

19. Learning To Fly (1987)
Parent Album: A Momentary Lapse of Reason
I did not catch on to this song until a full two years after its release. For that matter I really didn't latch on to the song's parent album until two years later also. The odd thing, I bought the 7" single upon its release (but not the album), and for some reason I never took to the song. I think I played it once and forgot about it. One gloomy fall afternoon in 1989 I decided to play that little 45, I had forgotten about and this time I heard magic. Maybe it was the slick guitar work, or maybe David Gilmour's smooth vocals, or quite possibly the creative lyrics or maybe all of the above. Whatever it was this time around the song had me totally captivated - so much that I considered it my favorite Pink Floyd song for about a year. 

As I came to love this song, I dug a little deeper and noticed that one of the songwriters was Anthony Moore. I wondered, "Is this the same Anthony More (yes one "o") whose albums Flying Doesn't Help and World Service are amongst my all-time favorites. Back in these days I did not have the internet at the tips of my fingers like I do now, so I sent a letter to Pink Floyd to confirm this. I never did get a response but, in 2002, with the help of the internet, I was finally able to confirm that this was indeed the same Anthony Moore from many years ago.

In it's lyrics "Learning to Fly" combines the metaphor of flying with proper flight instructions: "Propellers, fully forward. Flaps, set, 10 degrees." 

In an interview, David Gilmour said, "'Learning to Fly' is about breaking free and the actual mechanics of learning to fly an airplane." The song describes Gilmour's feelings about moving ahead as the new leader of Pink Floyd after the departure of Roger Waters. 

Around this time, David Gilmour was taking flying lessons. He got help with the lyric from Anthony Moore, a lyricist who also worked on the track "On The Turning Away." Moore's idea was to incorporate phrases Gilmour would hear in his lessons as he was learning to fly a plane.

The dubbed over voice of pilots talking is actually a recording of drummer Nick Mason during a flying lesson. Both Nick Mason and David Gilmour became licenced pilots around this time.

A Momentary Lapse Of Reason was the first Pink Floyd album recorded without their founding member, Roger Waters. 

Learning To Fly (1987)

18. Stay (1972)
Parent Album: Obscured By Clouds
A pleasant tune with lyrics written by Richard Wright and music by Roger Waters. The lyrics are straight forward and simple and reflect the morning thoughts after a one night stand. The lyrics paint an aura of comfort with a vivid imagery of color; "Midnight blue/Burning gold/A yellow moon/Is growing cold."

Stay (1972)

17. One Of These Days (1971)
Parent Album: Meddle
It's all about the bass guitar.  The bass resonates and it's prpolusive, chunky, and upfront. "One Of These Days" features double-tracked bass guitars played by David Gilmour and Roger Waters through a delay to create quarter note triplets.

The song is primarily an instrumental with a short whispered spoken part in which drummer Nick Mason says, "One of these days I'm going to cut you into little pieces.

16. Julia Dream (1968)
Parent Album: Non-Album Track
"Julia Dream" is one of Pink Floyd's most beautiful songs. That is a tall order to fill as they have recorded many gracefully ethereal and beautiful songs throughout their life as a band.

Roger Waters has written many masterpieces and "Julia Dream" is no exception, it is amongst one of Roger Waters' best. The lyrics flow seamlessly together weaving a mysterious love song.

With his lyrics Roger Waters paints a picture filled with symbolism. The opening line, "Sunlight bright upon my pillow, Lighter than an eiderdown," symbolizes the breaking of morning. The sunlight is not intrusive but light and feathery as it wakes the subject from a dream of the most beautiful Julia of whom he enjoys dreaming, "Queen of all my dreams." 

In the line, "Will she let the weeping willow, Wind his branches round," Roger Waters is referring to the subject as 'the weeping willow,' perhaps he is saddened because he is unsure whether or not Julia, his dreamboat queen, will let him wrap his arms around her.

"Every night I turn the light out. Waiting for the velvet bride," symbolizes the subjects enthusiasm for night time as he lays his head upon his pillow hoping to meet with his velvet bride; Julia. The word velvet is the second reference to softness in the song. The first, "eiderdown," which is a light and soft duck feather sometimes used in a pillow. Velvet references the subjects perceived smooth softness of Julia. 

"Will the scaly armadillo find me where I’m hiding?" Only in a Roger Waters lyric will you find a scaly armadillo in a love song. The armadillo is a passive solitary sort of creature with hard scaly looking protective outer shell. They are nocturnal beings that come only at night to search for food. I'm going to try my hand at interpretting this line. In the cover of the night, when the dreams manifest, the subject is hiding in a place that feels safe and secure, waiting for his velvet bride to arrive. The dream comes searching to find him - he wants to be found, but he's not found and does not receive his velvet queen.

The third verse is the most revealing:
"Will the misty master break me? Will the key unlock my mind? Will the following footsteps catch me? Am I really dying?"

The third verse is in reference to the second verse, a sort of continuation. The subject wants to be found and released from his hiding place. But he won't let himself be found. He is keeping everything pent up in a dark place in his mind. The misty master refers to his dreams. They are unclear, somewhat hallucinatory. The dreams have taken over and are mastering his mind. Will these dreams destroy him? He wants his muddled mind to be unravelled, but can anyone or anything get through to him to unlock the confusion (or madness) that lies within? He is running away from his own mind, from his confusions. He does not want to face reality. He feels that reality is chasing after him but he cannot face, therefore he continues to hide in a world of disillusion and dreams. Will reality catch him? Will he face reality or will he die in the tangled web of his dreams and confusion?

In the end he calling out for his dreams, his fantasy, his delusions to save him. He's trapped and locked inside the queen of all his dreams.

Before moving on I must also pay some attention to David Gilmour's vocal interpretation. This was his first lead vocal on any Pink Floyd song. "Julia Dream" was originally released as the b-side of the non-album 1968 single, "It Would Be So Nice." Gilmour's lead vocal was double tracked which adds an eerie supernatural character to his voice. Right from this first song we it was evident that David Gilmour would be a leading force within the puzzle of Pink Floyd's artistry.

Julia Dream (1968)

15. Money (1973)
Parent Album: The Dark Side of the Moon
"Money" was Pink Floyd's first legitimate hit single in the US reaching #13. Ironically, the song failed to chart in the UK, their homeland.

Right from the opening cha-ching sounds of a ringing cash register and jingling coins, you just know this song is going to be "classic Pink Floyd," and classic is exactly what it has become.

Roger Waters' thick chunky bass line leads the song with a heavier sound than we had grown accustomed to hearing from Pink Floyd on their previous two or three albums. Here we're treated to a gritty and bluesy lead vocal from David Gilmour - a nice contrast from his usual beautifully smooth vocals. That hard saxophone is really something else and gives the song a brassy blues texture like we had never heard before in a Pink Floyd song ut appeared more often in subsequent Floyd recordings. 

In short this song describes the trappings of greed. How the wealthy seem to never have enough. Roger Waters, who wrote the lyric, in so many words, has stated he's a socialist but he let himself get sucked in by the trappings of wealth. He said, "I very much wanted that material stuff."

14. Fat Old Sun (1970)
Parent Album: Atom Heart Mother
Written by David Gilmour, at this point in time Gilmour hadn't much experience as a singwriter. He co-wrote a few lengthy instrument a ls and wrote a few short instrumentals. But "Fat Old Sun" was Gilmour's first composition in which he wrote the music, melody and lyrics.

The lyrics tell describe a lazy sunny day in the countryside. Unlike other Pink Floyd songs where the lyrics are a puzzle of symbolism, the lyrical meaning of "Fat Old Sun" is straight forward.

"Fat Old Sun" was all David Gilmour. Maybe some say a hint of what he would have sounded as a solo artist in 1970. Gilmour not only wrote the song and sang lead vocals but he also played all the guitars - electric, acoustic, pedal steel and bass. He also played the drums and did all percussive parts. Richard Wright, though, did step in to play the organ. 

A few interesting tidbits on "Fat Old Sun":
The same bells effect sound, which is heard at the beginning and end og " Fat Old Sun," is also heard on "High Hopes" from "The Division Bell" and "Surfacing" from "The Endless River."

Norman Smith, was the executive producer producer of "Fat Old Sun" (and actually the entire album "Atom Heart Mother"), was also known as Hurricane Smith. Many of us remember Hurricane Smith for his 1972 mega-hit"Oh Babe, What Would You Say." Smith also produced, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn," "A Saucerful of Secrets" and "Ummagumma."

Fat Old Sun (1970)

13. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (1975)
Parent Album: Wish You Were Here
"Shine On You Crazy Diamond" is represented in nine parts on the album "Wish You Were Here." It 's split in two parts. The first part, which opens the album is Parts I - V and is 13 minutes and 3 seconds in length. The second part, which closes the album is Parts VI - IX and is 12 minutes and 28 seconds.

"Shine On You Crazy Diamond" was written about and dedicated to Syd Barrett, who left the band in 1968 due to deteriorating mental health. 

While working on the album Syd Barrett quietly entered the studio. Nobody recognized him as his head and eyebrows were shaved and he had gained quite a bit of weight. Roger Waters was brought to tears because he was shocked by Barrett's appearance. Someone in the studio offered to play the "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" suite again for Barrett. Barrett commented that a second playback wasn't needed as it had just been played minutes earlier. Barrett stated, "it sounded a bit old."

Parts I - III are all instrumental. Each of these three parts includes what I consider to be some of the most intense (or intricate) guitar solos by David Gilmour.

Finally in Part IV we get Roger Waters' soulful lead vocals. Waters is at his peak of vocal urgency and sensitivity. He sings his words with an impact that is stronger than we've heard him on previous albums. Could this additional vocal verve be due to the fact that he was singing about his childhood friend Syd Barrett, whose friendship dates back to the mid 1950s.

Waters sings the line, "Come on, you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine," all descriptors of how he perceived Barrett in different stages of his personality and life path.

The backing vocals are a highlight in Part IV (and again in Part VII). David Gilmour and Richard Wright are joined by Venetta Fields and Carlena Williams to create a wall of sound Gospel tinged harmonic backing vocals. Venetta Fields was a much sought after backing vocalist having worked with Ike & Tina Turner (she was an Ikette), Steely Dan, Rolling Stones and many others.

Part V is one of my favorites with the high stepping sax parts by Dick Parry. Parry also played sax on "Money" and "Us and Them." Another highlight is the funk progression in Part XIII. Finally Part IX was described as a slow funeral march by David Gilmour stating. He said it was the parting musical eulogy to Syd Barrett. At the very end of the song (around 12:07) a short keyboard melody of "See Emily Play, which is one of Barrett's most iconic Pink Floyd songs.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond (1975)

12. Wot's... Uh The Deal? (1972)
Parent Album: Obscured By Clouds
"Obscured By Clouds," is my favorite Pink Floyd album. Yes, that's right not "The Dark Side of the Moon" or " The Wall," but "Obscured By Clouds" is my favorite. I love the easy going progressive acoustic feel of the album. The album is a nice addition to a lazy sunny afternoon.

The introspective lyrics of a young man searching for his place in this world and finally feeling at home as he has aged is beautifully sung by David Gilmour. His voice melts right through to the soul.

11. Childhood's End (1972)
Parent Album: Obscured By Clouds
"Childhood's End" is a predecessor to the classic Waters-Gilmour-Mason-Wright Pink Floyd sound. With its chunkier guitar chords and funkier bass line the song gives us a glimpse of what was to come with "The Dark Side of the Moon." 

Even David Gilmour's lead vocal is a window into " The Dark Side of the Moon" being a prototype toward his muscular bluesy vocal which drove the mood and soul on songs such as "Money" and "Young Lust."

Lyrically, "Childhood's End" touches on the growing and aging. We start as an eager youth and become a declining elder. The picture isn't so rosy anymore.

My favorite line; "Is your conscience at rest, if once put to the test? I'm not going to decipher this but, but will ask you to consider the question.

Childhood's End (1972)

10. A Pillow of Winds (1971)
Parent Album: Meddle
David Gilmour's slide guitar has a way of reaching into your gut and soothe the mind into a sort of meditative state. Gilmour brings out a beauty from his guitar that only he is capable of doing. 

The Pink Floyd catalog does not include a whole lot of love songs. But "A Pillow Of Winds" is one of those few love songs. Pink Floyd's brand of "love song" is not filled with catchy hooks and clever rhymes. But instead is brimming with quiet mysticism and imagery of nature and romance.

Roger Waters wrote the lyrics while David Gilmour gracefully and handsomely sang the song.

A Pillow of Winds (1971)

9. Burning Bridges (1972)
Parent Album: Obscured By Clouds
I first purchased "Obscured By Clouds" on vinyl back around 1985 and maybe I listened to it once but for some reason it didn't resonate with me. Then in 1998, I purchased the 1996 reissued CD (as I did with their entire catalog). The packaging was great with several photos, lyrics and album credits. It was then, 26 years after its release, that I discovered the greatness of "Obscured By Clouds."

Shortly before I purchased the CD, I heard "Burning Bridges" in a local Harley Davidson Gear and Apparel store. I must have played that song 100s of times in the first month I owned the CD. The rest of the album grew on me within the ensuing months.

Once again David Gilmour's slide guitar shines and gives the song an extra depth of dreamlike emotion.

8. Hey You (1979)
Parent Album: The Wall
"Hey You" is one of Pink Floyd's most iconic songs. It was hugely popular throughout the entire decade of the 1980s. Though the song was not upbeat and did not have a danceable rhythm to it nor was it a loud rock song with thrashing drums - it was still very popular at house parties. It was not uncommon to go from Devo's "Whip It" to "Hey You," then follow with Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot."

"Hey You" was used as the B-Side of the single featuring "Comfortably Numb" as the A-Side. Many people considered this to be a double A-Side. Considering the enormous popularity of both songs it unexpectedly did not chart on any major primary charts  anywhere in the world. However, "Comfortably Numb" did reach #24 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart.

The lead vocal was shared by David Gilmour and Roger Waters and Roger Waters wrote the probing lyric. But the emotionally stimulating guitar solo. Gilmour played this one with a yearning perfection and is arguably one of the most recognizable guitar solos in all of rock music history.

Hey You (1979)

7. Green is the Colour (1969)
Parent Album: More (Soundtrack)
"Green Is The Colour" is one of my personal favorite Pink Floyd songs. I am a big fan of David Gilmour's lead vocals and with this song swooned his way through the peaceful music that soothingly backed his voice. Plus green is my favorite color, well it's tied with blue and aquamarine, but for the longest time green was the color in my mind.

The song is described as being an acoustic ballad and Roger Waters says the song is about Ibiza, which is where the movie "More" was filmed.

Though Pink Floyd was an albums band, I always felt "Green Is The Colour" was a good candidate for release as a single.

Green is the Colour (1969)

6. Wish You Were Here (1975)
Parent Album: Wish You Were Here
Back in 1992 I had a hard/grunge/classic rock band called The Thunder Lizards. During one of the rehearsals the bass player, Damon, brought his friend Tony. During the rehearsal Tony and Damon did a quick rendition of "Wish You Were Here," which I tried singing afterward, but I just couldn't get the melody down. I was used to singing my own original songs - some of my titles: "She's Like Flowers To Me," "Sunshine Tonight," "Middle Class Blues," "Love Prison" and so forth. Shortly afterward Damon and Tony formed a cover band called Parkaimoon. They're still together and do a mix of original music and covers. Anyhow, after that rehearsal I couldn't get "Wish You Were Here" off my mind so I went home and played the album and prominently the song - several times. The lyric, "We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl year after year," stayed in my mind for weeks.

The song begins, like it is coming from an AM radio show in the distance. Possibly representing the distance between the listener and the music.

42 seconds in, Richard Wright was caught on tape coughing. After hearing this he was inspired to quit smoking.

The song is about feelings of detachment and alienation. Roger Waters says the inspiration for the song was Syd Barrett.

Wish You Were Here (1975)

5. Brain Damage (1973)
Parent Album: The Dark Side Of The Moon
Back in the late 80s into the early 90s I could really relate to this song, especially the lyric, "The lunatic is in my head. The lunatic is in my head. You raise the blade, you make the change. You re-arrange me 'til I'm sane." Back in those days I felt there was a lunatic crawling around in my brain. It took me a few years, but I was able to exorcise that lunatic without having to take a scalpel to my brain. As an interesting sidenote, back in the 1980s, this song spurred on several conversations regarding lobotomies, between myself and my friends.

This song about insanity has been rumored as being inspired, in part, by Syd Barrett, although the band itself has never eluded to this.

I want to begin with the opening line, "The lunatic is on the grass," quite a few people have claimed this is a reference to smoking marijuana. Roger Waters disputes this claim.  "The lunatic is on the grass" - is a reference to those "Keep off the grass" signs we used to see everywhere in the 70s and 80s. So the man who is considered insane is sitting on the forbidden turf, in his own demented world of "games and daisy chains and laughs". Insanity is looked upon as stepping off the boundaries of accepted behavior ("the path") - "Got to keep the loonies on the path."

I always felt "Brain Damage" would have fit well as background in the film "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest."

4. Let There Be More Light (1968)
Parent Album: A Saucerful of Secrets
"Let There Be More Light" was the sole single released from "A Saucerful of Secrets." Many sources say it was a US only single, however Discogs lists a 1968/1969 Japanese single release. As well wikipedia displays the Japanese picture sleeve of the single. 

The song starts out with Roger Waters' chunky bass up front and center. He plays with an almost mathematical repetitive force giving the song a sort of prevailing darkness. Hiding beneath the bass line is Rick Wright's spacey farfisa organ which works neatly into the vocals. The first, gentler vocals are performed by Wright with Waters whispering, the following, more aggressive refrain by Gilmour. Gilmour's stronger vocal gives the effect of sounding like the masterlord of a future species of super humanoids. While Roger Waters'whispering vocal gives the song a sense of lurching mystery. The last two minutes feature a guitar solo from David Gilmour which is notable for being his first guitar solo on a Pink Floyd. The solo features Gilmour's style and "trademark": he plays single notes and the sound of his guitar is treated through a chain of sound effects, such as distortion, echo, delay, and reverb.

Pink Floyd took an almost architectural approach at constructing each song on "A Saucerful of Secrets." "Let There Be More Light", written by Waters, is a great example of this approach with its peaks and furrows. Waters continues the space rock approach established by Barrett. The evolved from a bass riff that was part of "Interstellar Overdrive."

Several notable places and historic figures are mentioned in Roger Waters' lyrics including; Mildenhall, a Royal Airforce in Suffolk, England, Hereward the Wake, a nobleman from Eastern England in the 11th century, and Lucy in the Sky which is a direct reference to The Beatles' classic, "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds."

Let There Be More Light (1968)

3. Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2 (1979)
Parent Album: The Wall
"Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2" has the destinction of being Pink Floyd's biggest hit. The song was #1 in several countries around the world including Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and US. The song was the #1 song of 1980 in Canada and Switzerland and #2 for the year in Germany and the US. The song also reached #57 on the US disco chart.

The song became controversial throughout various parts of the world. The Inner London Education Authority called the song scandolous and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said she hated it. The song (as well as the album "The Wall) was banned in South Africa in 1980 after it was adopted by supporters of a nationwide school boycott protesting instituted racial inequities in education under apartheid. Roger Waters commented that the song was not about the education system, it was a reflection on his life and how his schooling was part of that.

In a December 2009 interview Waters tolld Mojo, that the song is meant to be satirical. He explained: "You couldn't find anybody in the world more pro-education than me. But the education I went through in boys' grammar school in the '50s was very controlling and demanded rebellion. 

Waters expressed the idea that you could make or build a wall out of a number of different bricks that when they fit together provided something impermeable, his grammar school teacher at the Cambridgeshire School for Boys was just one of those bricks.

The lyric "we don't need no education, we don't no thought control," became a chant for rebellious youth at frat parties. Not that anyone was going to burn there schools down or rebel against education. It was a great song to get that youthful energy out in a non-destructive manner.

The children's choir featured in the chorus was comprised of 23 kids between the ages of 13 to 15 from Islington Green School in London. Producer Bob Ezrin came up withe idea of the children's choir. He used a choir of kids when he produced Alice Cooper's "School's Out" in 1972. Ezrin liked using children's voices on songs about school.

Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2 (1979)

2. Us and Them (1973)

Parent Album: The Dark Side of the Moon
My strongest memory of this song dates back to the summer of 2003. Yes, it was already 30 years old by then and I had heard the song thousands of times. But this particular time it struck me different. It permeated through me in a way like it hadn't before. It was Labor Day weekend and people were having barbecues and get togethers and usually I would be out and about with my friends eating way more food than my body could handle. But this year I was in bed with a fever of 103 nursing a horrible case of the flu. I was really sick. It was a hot afternoon and I had my window open for ventilation. I could hear the sounds of my neighbors partying - laughing, talking and classic rock music. I was in so much pain and my stomach was uneasy and queasy. Then all of a sudden I hear the opening guitar chords of "Us and Them," it was so beautiful and soothing. The saxophone just cut right through my aching bones and soothed me better than any tylenol or flu medicine could. I felt such a relaxed floating feeling overtake me. It was beautiful. A moment of respite from an uncomfortable bodily experience. Finally enters David Gilmour's voice singung, " Us, us, us, us, us and Them, them, them, them, them and I was quickly shuttled to a place of heavenly comfort. I felt no pain just the beauty of the song. This light and airy feeling continued for the near 8 minutes of the song. There was no better medicine than Pink Floyd.

"Us and Them" was released as a single in the US and Canada yet met with tepid response reaching #101 in the US and #85 in Canada. The edited 3:15 minute single was perfect for Top 40 AM radio play - I don't get why it didn't catch on. Anyhow, the single did help generate further sales of "The Dark Side of the Moon."

"Us and Them" began it's life in 1970 while Pink Floyd was working on the sountrack for the film Zabriskie Pointe. It was a somber piano piece that Richard Wright came up with.

Interesting little tidbit: "Us and Them" features a female trio consisting of Liza Strike, Leslie Duncan and Doris Troy singing harmony vocals. Troy had a hit in 1963 with "Just One Look" which made it to #10 in the US, #8 in New Zealand, and #1 in Canada.

Us and Them (1973)

1. Comfortably Numb (1979)
Parent Album: The Wall
"Comfortably Numb" was the third single release from the album "The Wall," the single failed to chart anywhere in the world, however it was certified Platinum in Italy and Gold in the UK, most likely due to sales of downloads and not of the 7" single.

The lyrics were written by Roger Waters and were inspired by his experience of being injected with tranquilizers for stomach cramps, caused by hepatitis, before a Pink Floyd show in Philadelphia during the 1977 In the Flesh Tour. Waters commented, "That was the longest two hours of my life, trying to do a show when you can hardly lift your arm." The song had the working title "The Doctor."

David Gilmour wrote the music in 1978 while working on his debut solo album.

The lead vocal was shared with Roger Waters taking lead on the verses and David Gilmour doing lead and harmony vocals on the choruses. 

Within the song David Gilmour performs two guitar solos which several music critics claim to be amongst the greatest guitar solos of all-time. In 2006, listeners of the digital radio station, Planet Rock, voted it the "greatest guitar solo of all-time."

In 2004 disco/pop/dance group Scissor Sisters did a pretty decent cover of "Comfortably Numb." Imagine the Bee Gees doing a recording of "Comfortably Numb" in the vain of "Staying Alive" and you have Scissor Sisters. The song sailed all the way to #1 on the UK Dance charts and was a Top 10 hit in several European countries. 

Comfortably Numb (1979)

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