Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd

This song has a quiet build up, and when the guitar comes in so loud over the main melody it's startling yet perfectly accompanies the sound. Imagine hearing the beginning tune over the radio and someone sitting alongside you picking the notes out casually but effortlessly with their guitar – and that is exactly the effect Roger Waters wanted, and achieved.

The lyrics – so sad is the first thing I think... like what depression would sound like if it could sing. The words send goose bumps up my arms as the fairly short lyrics are so layered with meaning. It depends if you concentrate on the musicianship or the lyrical vision - one or the other you might get clarity, but together it is a brilliant song, and the irony of 'wish you were here' - oh this last is a cutting swipe. No I don't wish I was there, or anywhere near there, although at times in everyone’s life I think they will stop to visit.

The song to me conjures up images of the tide, a relentless ebb and flow that will continue undisturbed by the mishaps of mice and men. Apparently this song was written around feelings of alienation, and refers to former Pink Floyd member Syd Barrett (see more about the song here). I can sense the depression, the feeling of being unconnected to everything around you, and time can march on relentlessly no matter what small brakes you put in its path to stop the progress. It’s hard to pick a favourite part of the lyrics – I usually fall for the hook with the line and sinker, so it’s probably not a surprise for me to pick:

And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?

I can see this so clearly - all the bitter disillusioned old soldiers coming back home after the Second World War to find there was nothing left for them, and no matter what horror they had seen they had to try and fit back in to society the way they did before, no matter how damaged. And the earlier line:

And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts

Again - as a child watching these tall men go off to fight for their country, and the space you see in the eyes when they return, if they return...

It’s such a perfectly crafted song, an ‘everyman’ song, and it might be sad but there is beauty in sadness that is too rich to ignore. So here it is...

2 comments:

musicobsessive said...

Oh Boy, what a goodie! Do you know about Rodrigo Y Gabriela? They are a mexican ex-metal but now classical guitar duo who do rock covers (no, really!) See this link to Youtube where they play WYWH but the crowd sings it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9f075yt5HCw

Although it's done in a joking way, the audience sings the whole thing, every word, and it's quite heartfelt. One of those lump in the throat moments that only music can give you.

Good choice.

Jayne said...

Oo thanks for that link, I wasn't aware of that duo, and that was great to listen to the crowd singing the song. Such power when large groups of people sing together - it's astonishing really.

And thank you! I'm trying to go for the songs I really appreciate rather than the obvious ones - eg I was itching to choose Another Brick in the Wall, but I listen to WYWH so much more.