28 March 2010

Pink Floyd Lyrics, Themes & Meanings


All entries have now been added to our sister site:

Pink Floyd Lyrics, Themes & Meanings

Work continues.  Being added over coming days are loads of never-before-seen and behind the scenes photos.  Considering just two hands, entries to this site have been paused until the final touches are completed on the lyrics site.  I'll be back to answer your questions in short time...

14 March 2010

Beds, beds, beds!

Jerry Carlson of Indiana queries: "I have heard there are two different covers for A Momentary Lapse of Reason. If this is true, please describe them both."

There are many slight variations, but the biggest one can be seen if you look at the man sitting on the bed.  On the US cover he is holding a mirror and the bed cover is blue.  On the UK cover he is holding two sticks of some sort and the bed cover is purple.  Furthermore, on the US version the tide is closer, the picture has a black border, and the hang glider is slightly closer.  The US "PF" symbol is red, the UK is orange.  The squiggly lines on the bottom right corner on the US are orange, and the UK are blue.  Overall, the US cover has a glossy finish while the UK has a matte (dull) finish.  There are many other animal and human variations of each, but quite simply two different photos taken at the same session.  Also, to confuse matters further, there were two different US covers. The current stock copy and a misprint, which had a very blurred front cover photo and different colored logos. It was briefly available in the shops before being withdrawn.

11 March 2010

Spritual Now

Sarah Walkowiak of Denver attempted to pick my brain cell by asking: "Do the two stone/metal heads that appear on the cover of The Division Bell have any significance, or are they just there to look interesting and confuse fans?"

Gilmour said he doesn't believe in a spiritual afterlife, but rather a spiritual now.  That is, once life ends all is black, so you better grab your bliss while you can.  Thus searching for the meaning of life requires a person to reach deep inside themselves to unlock the riddle.  Could the reflective faces on The Division Bell be a visual metaphor for such a quest?  And alas something the Publius hunters have failed to train their eyes upon.  What a shame.

One of These Days/Seamus Japanese 7" single

Michael Christensen of Denmark asked: "I have One of These Days/Seamus on Japanese 7" vinyl EMR-20388 (SHUL 795A1-5). Is it a reissue?"

Yes.  Floyd's original Japanese releases were on the Odeon label.  This single was released on red vinyl (Odeon OR2935). What you have is the first reissue with a different cover.  It was reissued again on EMR-29388 with a cover similar to the previous except for a yellow band around it.

Abbreviated setlist in Pompei

Simon Brough from England wonders: "Why did Floyd not perform their entire setlist at Live in Pompei which at the time would have included Embryo and Fat Old Sun?  Similarly, why doesn't the re-issued CD of Ummagumma have the recorded Interstellar Overdrive on it?"

Live in Pompei was recorded from October 4th to the 7th, 1971 and the tracks were chosen as a representation of their live show at the time.  Coupled with the interview and Dark Side of the Moon footage, the film constituted a fairly conventional 81-ish minutes.  Embryo was not in contention for a release as the band were pissed off with Harvest Records for releasing a demo version of the track on the "Picnic" compilation.  Both Fat Old Sun and Embryo are very long songs and time limitations versus variety of material to make and interesting and balanced release are also necessary factors.  In concert faves at the time also included Atom Heart Mother and Cymbaline (at that point still).  So be thankful we were spared the full monty!  Ummagumma omitted Interstellar Overdrive because, it is said, the tapes of the track in question were disappointing.  That was the official reason.  John Peel had a 30-minute tape of Interstellar Overdrive recorded by the Floyd at Mothers until a thief added it to his collection.  John reported it was a marvelous performance, comparing it to the sound of dying galaxies.

08 March 2010

One of these axes, Dr Phang...

Phoenix resident Kevin Stewart asks: "What is One of These Days, and Careful With That Axe Eugene about?  Also, exactly how rare are the Nice Pair vinyls depicting the Dr. Phang picture?"

One of These Days (I'm Going to Cut You Into Little Pieces) marked Nick's debut vocal outing.  It was simply an instrumental which seemed fairly violent, so the title had to reflect this.  It originally had some inspiration in UK radio presenter Jimmy Young, going by the initial demo of the track which samples Jimmy (and basically rips the piss out of the guy!).  Careful With That Axe can be explained similarly.  As for A Nice Pair, Dr. Phang covers are the only ones you can easily pick up, with the non-Phang covers being rarer now.  In explanation for all unaware readers, Dr. Phang was a real dentist.  He was prohibited by law from advertising, so when the picture appeared on the top right hand side of the cover, it was determined to be just that (advertising).  It was swiftly substituted, but not before most of the pressing was distributed.

Dave & Syd arrested in France?

Vicky Owen of South Wales, again:  "On the LP More, 'A Spanish Piece' is credited solely to David Gilmour. Is it definitely Dave speaking in the Spanish accent?  Also, I know that Dave and Syd Barrett were good friends in their younger days at school.  I read that the two were put in jail by the French police for busking. Is this true?"

Yup, that's definitely El Dave speaking.  It is true that Dave and Syd were arrested for busking (performing on a public street for gratuities) in August 1965.  They weren't jailed, but just held for one hour at the St. Tropez police station for questioning before being released.

07 March 2010

The Fantastick Animation Festival

Ron Gagg of Washington asks: "Sometime in the late 70s I attended a movie in Bloomington, Indiana called 'The Fantastick Animation Festival'.  Included in the movie was a Floyd video called something like '2000 Hotels' with the animation set to One of These Days. Could you confirm its existense?"

Actually called "200 Motels", this was a Frank Zappa film.  But the One of These Days animated video was the same one broadcast by The Old Grey Whistle Test (BBC) in 1974, showing Harlequin dancers pogoing in a surrealistic vortex backdrop entitled "French Windows".  The Fantastick Animation Festival did exist; I remember it, but missed it.  Strangely though, I do remember the two featured artists were Pink Floyd and Cat Stevens.

The Other Side of The Wall

Jennifer Click of Kentucky recalls: "Around the same time The Wall was released, another LP entitled 'The Other Side of The Wall' appeared.  it was a single LP with a cover opposite The Wall (black bricks, white lettering).  Was my mind playing tricks on me?"

It was a bootleg, albeit a rare one and unknown to me.  Certainly there was no such official release of that title or description, that much is true.  There was, however, an MTV documentary in the US entitled "The Other Side of The Wall" which aired on July 4, 1982.  It is entirely possible that the LP was a bootleg of this documentary.

06 March 2010

Spot the pigeon

Joe Tocci of Illinois asks: "Why are the Momentary Lapse of Reason and Delicate Sound of Thunder covers 'letterboxed' and not bled to the edges like all previous cover art?  And on the back of Mason's Fictitious Sports there is a figure of a man running.  What does this mean?  Is it regarding Spot The Pigeon?"

Shame on you, you should know better than to ask subjective questions about Storm Thorgerson's work - y'know he can't help it!  But, keep in mind that MLOR and DSOT were the first specifically designed with CD in mind and the look of the cover is helped in these cases with border strips.  As for your second question, more like "spot the player", it depicts a fictitious sport (gettit?) involving a number of footballs and no players.  There is no real deep meaning - just a bit o' fun.

Furry animals in a cave

Mike O'Connor from Tennessee wonders: "On Several Species there is a speech at the end in some foreign dialect. What is the language spoken and, more importantly, what is being said?  Second, in the Crazy Diamond box set booklet, the picture on the front near the saying 'What Colour Is Sound?', there are five people in the picture looking down at the camera.  Who is the fifth person?"

It is the timeless confrontation between the light and dark forces, carried out in a small cave on the coast of Scotland as far back as 300 AD.  The language is ancient and belonged to a tribe of Scottish Picts known for their fiery temper.  Slowing down the vinyl reveals several fragments before Waters fires up with his soliloquy, such as "that was pretty avant garde, wasn't it."  Speeding up the vinyl reveals "bring back my guitar."  The rant however is only Waters speaking English in a Scottish accent, spouting some rather bloody and violent (and poor quality) poetry.  You can bet your amazing pudding on that!  And the fifth person in the photo is none other than Bob Close.  (Note:  For the complete transcription of Waters' poetry in Several Species, and our analysis, see the listing for this track on our Pink Floyd Lyrics, Themes & Meanings site, specifically here... Several Species.)

02 March 2010

Another Beatles and Floyd connection

Rob Yest of Arizona:  "The birds at the beginning of High Hopes are the same that can be heard at the beginning of The Beatles' 'Across The Universe' found on Past Masters Vol. 2. What's your opinion?"

We consulted our resident bird watcher and she reports, "Birds of a different feather often flock together, especially on Beatles and Floyd records."  In the BBC tape vaults, there are tapes of every known feathered vertabrate on Earth.  The bird sounds in question came from an EMI Abbey Road record library volume "Pastoral" which was commonly used by bands recording there.  Listen to Grantchester Meadows and Sheep, just to name two additional Floyd songs with birds.  And no, there is no hidden message in the birdsong.

Female Mayans grazing

John Gilbert from Canada asks: "Is there any meaning to the female vocals on Atom Heart Mother?"

Yes.  The chants are those of the Mayan Indians, an ancient civilization of South America who are thought to have build great temples in Mexico.  The chant, found on clay tablets from excavated sites, literally translates as "mind your head".  But it does seem they're wailing about laundry detergent and rubber fetishes... of course there isn't a meaning!  Simply, Ron Geesin's artistry.  Also see Atom Heart Mother.

01 March 2010

Not Now John

After years of wondering, Scott Smith of Hawaii:  "About three minutes into The Final Cut, Roger sings 'I used to read books, but..." what? The lyric sheet doesn't say what Roger Sings after that... is it a secret message also?"

After sending a copy of The Final Cut to our sound labratory, our analyst came up with the following.  3:07 into the track, "I used to read books but now go fishing - kick off!"  The difficult part to decipher is  'kick off', however it could be interpreted as a good football match further distracting him from books.  For the complete lyrics and analysis... go here.

A storm of Nick Mason questions

Tim Silbernagel of Prince George, Canada fires:  "Was Nick Mason's biography 'Life Could Be A Dream' released on video or was it a TV broadcast only? Was The Final Cut video EP ever released in North America? Mason and Fenn have done several advertising jingles; which ones? Mason and Fenn did the soundtrack for the film 'Rooftops'; was it ever released as an LP soundtrack? I have heard of a book on Pink Floyd entitled 'A Day In The Life'; who wrote it, published it, etc? The music in the background during the 1966 interview of the Floyd on CBC is an early version of Interstellar Overdrive. When was this recorded, how long is the complete piece, and is it available without the interview?"

"Life Could Be A Dream" - Nick's 27-minute 1984 film had only two UK cable airings with no video release. Yet for some bizarre reason, an edited version turned up on a commercial airline's in-flight video film service! The Final Cut Video EP was released in both the US and UK for a period, but has long since been deleted.  As for ad jingles, details are sketchy at present, but "Dance of the Ferraris" was used for the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1989 and Nick did the music for Lloyd's Bank 'black horse' TV ad.  Nick has also driven his vintage cars in other ads which initially just wanted to hire them (he wasn't busy at the time, so...).  Rooftops?  Fuck knows, never heard of it.  "A Day In The Life: Voices From the English Underground 1961-1971" by Jonathan Green (Minerva, London 1988: ISBN 07483 90123) includes about 20 pages devoted entirely to Pink Floyd, tracing the counterculture in the UK.  The CBC Interstellar Overdrive was probably recorded in February 1966 and is not available without the interview intruding at some point.  The complete version is 11 minutes and very scarce in listenable quality.