Pink Floyd was a band so intent on forward-thinking and avid musical creation that they have an incredibly dense back catalogue. It is so textured, so deeply woven and impenetrable that it is almost impossible to completely unpick. With 15 studio albums to choose from, it begs the question, which songs does the group’s principal member, the fantastic guitarist David Gilmour, believe are the band’s best?
It’s a tough question that, one would imagine, Gilmour has faced plenty of times, but on one or two occasions, he’s shared his feelings on his favourite songs from the acid-rock pioneers. The man, it must be acknowledged, will have had such an integral hand in Pink Floyd’s output that picking a few songs to call his favourite is the equivalent of a sonic Sophie’s choice.
It appears that the singer and guitarist, who joined the band near the very beginning of their wide-reaching 55-year journey after replacing Syd Barrett, once picked six songs he likes the most amid a huge catalogue. The choices are a collection of songs that Gilmour would say stood the test of time. Below, we’ve pulled together a playlist of those songs, perfect for any Pink Floyd purist.
David Gilmour’s favourite Pink Floyd songs may be a little hard to gauge. The singer’s relationship with the tempestuous band saw him struggle with creative tensions and in-fighting with Roger Waters often leaving a slightly bitter taste in his mouth. When considering his own prominent solo career, it must become tiresome having to consistently answer fan-centric questions about Pink Floyd. However, that is what happens when you’re part of one of the most influential outfits of all time.
Luckily enough, in 2006, Billboard spoke to Gilmour, and amidst a heaving interview where pretty much every aspect of his career thus far was discussed, Gilmour did answer the question on everybody’s lips: what were his favourite Pink Floyd songs? While Gilmour did pick some Floyd classics out as the best, he also admitted that “there’s lots of them”.
Picking two from the Wish You Were Here album, Gilmour selected: “‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ and ‘Wish You Were Here’ are standout tracks.” Picking two of the band’s most prominent tracks, the guitarist completed quite possibly the triumvirate of Pink Floyd numbers when picked arguably the band’s most famous song from The Wall, ‘Comfortably Numb’, a track which Gilmour holds a special affection for.
When picking out some of his favourite solos, Gilmour shared his most spectacular moment with Pink Floyd, noting ‘Comfortably Numb’ as the pinnacle of his and the band’s live shows: “It was a fantastic moment, I can tell, to be standing up on there, and Roger’s just finished singing his thing, and I’m standing there, waiting,” remembers Gilmour.
He added: “I’m in pitch darkness and no one knows I’m there yet. And Roger’s down, and he finishes his line, I start mine and the big back spots and everything go on and the audience, they’re all looking straight ahead and down, and suddenly there’s all this light up there and they all sort of—their heads all lift up and there’s this thing up there and the sound’s coming out and everything. Every night there’s this sort of ‘[gasp!]’ from about 15,000 people. And that’s quite something, let me tell you”.
Gilmour may not have described all of the songs as his personal favourites, but he did eventually give the game away when he said: “‘High Hopes’ from The Division Bell is one of my favourite all-time Pink Floyd tracks,” tacking on a few more for good measure: “‘The Great Gig in the Sky’, ‘Echoes’” he eventually conceded defeat and admitted: “There’s lots of them”.
David Gilmour’s favourite Pink Floyd songs:
‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’
‘Wish You Were Here’
‘The Great Gig in the Sky’
The rest of the interview, conducted to promote his solo tour at the time, offers up a candid view of Gilmour. After being asked whether or not he should be playing bigger venues to avoid upsetting people, he frankly replied: “I can’t help other people’s frustrations. I don’t owe people anything. If people would like to come to my concerts I’d love them to come. And if they like the music that I make, I love that too. But I do not make music for other people. I make it to please myself.” It’s the kind of artistic determination that has seen Gilmour and Pink Floyd retain their position as purists.
On his legacy, Gilmour reflected: “Oh! [Long silence] Legacy? What’s a legacy? I think our music will continue to be played for a while. Then it will be forgotten like everything else will be forgotten. How long will that take? A hundred years, a thousand years, a million years? I have no idea. This is not something I think of very much.”