Hey You! Can You Hear Me? I Said I Have 20 from Pink Floyd!

12.4 classic pink floyd lineup
Classic Pink Floyd lineup

[Writer’s note: This blog is dedicated to all of those Pink Floyd fans with whom I grew up. I’m talking about you Bondo, Harv, Kline and the rest of you old Arabians who couldn’t stop dwelling on the genius of The Wall vs. Dark Side conversations at lunch.]

In rock music history, the year 1967 is perhaps the most significant year of all. During that year alone, albums that have played a part in nearly all of our lives were released that year. Seriously! Just go do a Google search of 1967 in rock history, and you will find that The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper, Are You Experienced? by the Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Doors’ eponymous debut albums were all released that year. Also released that year was the debut album titled The Piper at the Gates of Dawn by a psychedelic pop band by the name of Pink Floyd. If you ever listen to that album, it bares little resemblance to “The Floyd” from the Seventies that we hear all over classic rock radio stations. That maybe due to the fact that the main songwriter was a brilliant songwriter by the name of Syd Barrett. Unfortunately, Barrett had mental health issues, couple with a debilitating LSD habit, and those two never mix well. By the following year, 1968, Barrett was out of the band and was replaced by guitarist David Gilmour, which set the classic line-up with bassist Roger Waters, who also took over songwriting chores, drummer Nick Mason and keyboardist Richard Wright.

Initially, Pink Floyd struggled without Barrett’s guiding light. As a matter of fact, the band did not discover their classic sound until 1971’s Meddle album. And, then, it still was not until 1973, when they released their first classic album The Dark Side of the Moon, that the band became THE Pink Floyd we know today. The band followed up the album that eventually set the Billboard record for most consecutive weeks in the Top 200 Albums Charts (something like 20 years worth of weeks) with classic albums such as Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977) and The Wall (1979). And, every rock fan knows how the making of The Wall and 1982’s The Final Cut precipitated in Roger Waters being forced out of the band. Then, Gilmour gamely lead the band and some session musicians through two more albums, my favorite album title of all time, A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell. And although those albums had the sonic signature of classic Pink Floyd albums, they lacked the lyrical continuity that Waters vision provided.

12.4 Pink-Floyd-at-Live-8-in-2005
The Floyd, at Live 8, 2005, their last performance together

Then, in 2005, for the Live 8 concerts, the classic line-up reunited one last time for a small set of their classic songs. Unfortunately, the band never recorded again. Shortly after that swansong, Richard Wright passed away after a long battle with cancer. Ironically, Syd Barrett also passed away. Occasionally, you might read that David Gilmour has popped onstage to play his classic solo in “Comfortably Numb” while Roger Waters was touring The Wall around the world a few years ago. I had the privilege to see that concert on Waters’ second leg of his North America tour when it stopped in St. Louis. That was way more than a rock concert. It was a near total sensory overload visual and aural display like no other.

12.4 syd barrett era pink floyd
The original Pink Floyd lineup, with Syd Barrett in front.

In the past, I have shied away from writing about the biggies of the rock world. Let’s be serious, I really do not have anything to add to the narrative of The Floyd, The Stones, The Beatles, Hendrix, Clapton, Nirvana, Dylan and all the other bands who have academic courses at universities throughout the world. Plus, I was always concerned that I would simply be writing a fan’s synopsis of the band without giving any type of true critique. However, over the past decade, I have spent more time listening to early Pink Floyd, in an attempt to see why the British rock press tend to hold this era in such high esteem. Well, my answer is simple. I get it! Yep! I get it. I do love the English literary reference points in Barret’s lyrics, much like Lennon loved to throw in Lewis Carroll symbolism into his Beatles songs. Plus, I have developed a major “Jones” for psychedelic pop music from the past, as well as the present. I may have discovered such songs as “See Emily Play” through the backdoor due to XTC’s alter-ego, The Dukes of Stratosphear. Yet, however you get there, it does not matter. My suggestion is it not get stuck in the Seventies and Eighties with Pink Floyd. Please, go back to listen to those old albums, so you can appreciate how the band actually developed their sound. Please, hearing those Barrett pop gems are well worth the effort to learn the full musical story.

With no further ado, let’s see the list of My 20 Favorite Pink Floyd Songs.

  1. “Comfortably Numb” (The Wall, 1979)
  2. “See Emily Play” (single, 1967)
  3. “Time” (The Dark Side of the Moon, 1973)
  4. “Wish You Were Here” (Wish You Were Here, 1975)
  5. “When the Tigers Broke Free” (The Final Cut, 1982)
  6. “Mother” (The Wall, 1979)
  7. “Run like Hell” (The Wall, 1979)
  8. “Us and Them” (The Dark Side of the Moon, 1973)
  9. “Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-VII)” (Wish You Were Here, 1975)
  10. “Interstellar Overdrive” (The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, 1967)
  11. “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” (The Wall, 1979)
  12. “Money” (The Dark Side of the Moon, 1973)
  13. “Brain Damage/Eclipse” (The Dark Side of the Moon, 1973)
  14. “The Fletcher Memorial Home” (The Final Cut, 1982)
  15. “Astronomy Domine (The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, 1967)
  16. “Jugband Blues” (A Saucerful of Secrets, 1968)
  17. “Sheep” (Animals, 1977)
  18. “Arnold Layne” (single, 1967)
  19. “Learning to Fly” (A Momentary Lapse of Reason, 1987)
  20. “If” (Atomic Heart Mother, 1970)

And there you go! That’s the World of Pink Floyd According to Keller. Later on!

Let’s Do 30 Songs by Rush

12.1 goofy rush
Rush has always been described as being serious musicians

Who out there has watched the great documentary about the iconic Canadian band Rush, called Beyond the Lighted Stage? Much like the band itself, the documentary is excellent, complete with seemingly meandering sections that always circles back to the main story that only enhances your experience of the band upon reflection. And, many of their albums are the same, including any of their compilation albums. Rush is NOT a greatest hits band in the sense of The Beatles, The Who or even Led Zeppelin could be. Instead, Rush is one of the finest album bands ever to reside in the American male’s musical experience. I do not know many white suburban males who did not have a Rush phase in their lives, my brother being an exception.

Quite possibly, Rush may have three of rock’s most musically talented musicians in the history of rock music, let alone within one band. They have what could be described today as “jam band” tendencies. But, unlike Phish and the Grateful Dead, Rush’s “jams” are planned and placed within the context of the musical piece they happen to be demolishing. Phish and the Dead often just take off then hope they can eventually find their way back to the song. Rush has no no problems nor pretensions. Their jams serve the purpose of the piece. And, this band writes pieces…and movements, like a three-man rock and roll orchestra.

12.1 Alex.Geddy with doublenecks
The guitarist AND the bassist both play double necks? Seriously?

Rush is not a Top 40 band, though they have had Top 40 hits. Those hits happened when the audience and radio catches up to the band’s music, and not that the band ever reduced their music down to the lowest common denominator. Their musical prowess and direction would never allowed them to stumble down that road.

Ultimately, Rush is the world’s most successful cult band, with Top 10, multiple platinum albums to their credit. Yet, the critics loved to pan Rush’s Canadian Led Zeppelin-on-steroids sound. Sure, like all young men, lyricist Neil Peart, a voracious reader himself, came under the spell of Ayn Rand, which can be heard in the lyrics of “Anthem” and the whole album 2112. Still, the band outgrew those naive ideals, unlike some politicians today (Paul Ryan, anyone?). To a young man, the idea of removing all restrictions is the ultimate “F. You!” to adults. But, do we really want feral groups of humans running around unabated like the characters in the 1980 movie Warriors? We all eventually learn why a dog cannot be in charge of his/her food, as it will gorge itself until it throws up. And, that’s why the libertarian’s dream always goes burst.

So, Rush’s lyrics grew as they individually matured into men. As the Eighties beckoned, Rush evolved by integrating the sounds of the times of world music and the use of the synthesizer began to embellish their music. And, that is when the band hit their commercial zenith with a trio of albums: Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures and Signals. At the very moment, Rush was both the most successful band AND the coolest underground band.

12.1 rush logo

Some days, I just need to listen to this band’s music, arguably the most talented trio of musicians ever to join forces this side of The Police. The fact that their early output has aged so very well is a testament to the strength of the band. So, today, I will attempt to present My Top 30 Favorite Rush Songs, when I should honestly be ranking their albums instead. But, I never claimed to be sane. So, let’s get this countdown going!

  1. “Limelight” (Moving Pictures, 1981)
  2. “Red Barchetta” (Moving Pictures, 1981)
  3. “Working Man” (Rush, 1974)
  4. “Closer to the Heart” (A Farewell to Kings, 1977)
  5. “Tom Sawyer” (Moving Pictures, 1981)
  6. “The Spirit of the Radio” (Permanent Waves, 1980)
  7. “The Trees” (Hemispheres, 1978)
  8. “New World Man” (Signals, 1982)
  9. “Subdivisions” (Signals, 1982)
  10. “La Villa Strangiato” (Hemispheres, 1978)
  11. “Fly by Night” (Fly by Night, 1975)
  12. “Freewill” (Permanent Waves, 1980)
  13. “2112: Overture/The Temples of Syrinx/Discovery” (2112, 1976)
  14. “The Big Money” (Power Windows, 1985)
  15. “Finding My Way” (Rush, 1974)
  16. “Clockwork Angels” (Clockwork Angels, 2012)
  17. “We Hold On” (Snakes & Arrows, 2007)
  18. “Seven and Seven Is” (Feedback, 2004)
  19. “Time Stand Still (with Aimee Mann)” (Hold Your Fire, 1987)
  20. “What You’re Doing” (All the World’s a Stage, 1976)
  21. “Roll the Bones” (Roll the Bones, 1991)
  22. “Distant Early Warning” (Grace Under Pressure, 1984)
  23. “Something for Nothing” (2112, 1976)
  24. “Summertime Blues” (Feedback, 2004)
  25. “Anthem” (Fly by Night, 1975)
  26. “Nobody’s Hero” (Counterparts, 1993)
  27. “Vapor Trail” (Vapor Trails, 2002)
  28. “Crossroads” (Feedback, 2004)
  29. “Show Don’t Tell” (Presto, 1989)
  30. “Force Ten” (Hold Your Fire, 1987)

I told you it could be done! A Top 30 from Rush. Let me know what I left out! Have a great weekend.