Set the controls for the heart of every Pink Floyd fan: We’re celebrating Roger Waters’ highly anticipated return with a week of Floydian features that will make you wish you were here forever. Today, Justin Gerber handpicks the best Pink Floyd deep cuts.
It’s difficult to determine what a “deep cut” is when it comes to Pink Floyd. While casual fans are familiar with The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, there is little outside of those two albums that they can pull from upon questioning (and I demand answers). Die-hard fans are familiar with everything the band have ever released. To find a good median, here’s how we began to break it down:
01. Eliminated any singles the band released over their 50-plus-year run.
02. Eliminated any tracks from Dark Side, The Wall, or any release between.
That left us with a healthy number of albums and B-sides to pull from. We wanted to bridge the gap between the deep cuts that are often left out in casual conversation and those left out on random Floyd message boards. A rigorous effort was made to collect tracks from across the decades (I nearly broke my back!). We wanted to explain why the selected tracks were not only worthy of inclusion, but how in some cases they best captured the band in a specific moment of their history.
If you don’t know Pink Floyd, here are some good deep cuts to investigate. If you know them quite well, enjoy the reminiscing. Shine on…
Found On: A Saucerful of Secrets (Track 8)
Before sessions for Saucerful began, the original Floyd frontman’s mental health deteriorated to such an extent that his bandmates called in reinforcements. They came in the form of guitarist/singer David Gilmour, which briefly made the band a quintet. It wouldn’t last. Barrett’s last contribution is a song symbolic of what he was to the Floyd: playful and off-center with a darkness beneath. “Jugband” begins with mockery towards the group (“It’s awfully considerate of you to think of me here/ And I’m much obliged to you for making it clear that I’m not here) before briefly transforming into a ‘60s pastiche of a pop song, but most importantly it concludes with two questions that come off eerily sincere: “And what exactly is a dream?/ And what exactly is a joke?” After Saucerful, Barrett was no longer a member of Pink Floyd, but he continued to haunt/inspire its members in the decades that followed.
MORE THAN “SPACE ROCK”
“Green Is the Colour”
Found On: More OST (Track 5)
Floyd often gets tossed into the purely psychedelic forum of classic rock and roll, and while their wardrobe and early years back up this reasoning, there was always a gentleness to the band. Look no further than an early showcase for the team of Gilmour/Waters, with the former’s high tenor conveying the latter’s lyrics. There is no science fiction to be found in “Green”. It’s a love letter to Ibiza (the “she” of the piece), the island setting of the Barbet Schroeder film for which it was composed. The imagery is gorgeous (“Heavy hung the canopy of blue/ Shade my eyes and I can see you”) and has just enough pessimism to remind you where this is all coming from (“Envy is the bond between the hopeful and the damned”). Floyd’s acoustic tracks are just as memorable as their raucous guitar solos and extended jams.
THE WRIGHT STUFF
Found On: Atom Heart Mother (Track 3)
In the post-Barrett aftermath of Floyd, the band was still searching for an identity. Before Waters took the reins circa-Meddle, the songwriting was much more spread out. While keyboardist-singer Richard Wright had a greater presence on Saucerful with “Remember a Day” and “See-Saw”, his finest moment as a singer-songwriter is a track that mainstream audiences have likely never heard. “Summer ‘68” bounces along on piano and occasional “Penny Lane”-esque brass as Wright recounts the experience of waking up next to a groupie. With the droll lines “We say goodbye before we’ve said hello,” “We met just six hours ago/ The music was too loud,” and “Have you time before you leave to greet another man,” it’s too bad we didn’t get more Wright lyricism in the years that followed than we did. “Summer ‘68” is a rare gem.
THE FOOL WHO WEARS THE CROWN
Found On: Meddle (Track 3)
Although it’s finally gained some recognition thanks to Everybody Wants Some!!! and recent Waters live performances, I feel safe labeling “Fearless” as a deep cut. The track propels towards the top of the little-known nuggets thanks to its ascending guitar line, soccer-chant climax, and, of course, those pointed lyrics via Mr. Waters. While future albums are ripe with overt references to the specifically shamed, “Fearless” is an example of fill-in-the-blank ridicule and call for action that is timeless. A condemnation (“And who’s the fool who wears the crown?”) is followed by a push to “Go down in your own way/ And every day is the right day/ And as you rise above the fear-lines in his brow/ You look down, hearing the sound of the faces in the crowd.” A crowd of thousands recites the lyrics to “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, and we’re saved for a few minutes. Truly words to live by.
THE LIGHT SIDE OF THE MOON
“Wot’s…Uh the Deal?”
Found On: Obscured by Clouds OST (Track 5)
The temptation to cheat and include the entirety of Floyd’s soundtrack to a second Schroeder film was mighty, dear friends. Picking one track off of this underrated record was tough, but here we are with a precursor to a Jerry Seinfeld bit. “Wot’s…Uh the Deal?” was written and recorded (along with the other Obscured tracks) during the Dark Side sessions, and the mood of that record creeps in here and there. “Wot’s…” is what the band sounds like as a truly unified group of people. Mason provides the simple beat, Wright’s lovely piano gets showcased in between verses, and then there are delicate Gilmour vocals and lazy electric in the outro and those inescapable Waters lyrics. There are some biblical allusions, but it mostly deals with the unbeatable race against time, a major theme on the masterpiece to come. How quickly we go from “Cause there’s a chill wind blowing in my soul/ And I think I’m growing old” to “Cause there’s no wind left in my soul/ And I’ve grown old.”
Chin up, gang!