Pink Floyd Week
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Pink Floyd’s Top 20 Songs

on June 02, 2017, 12:00am

20. “Interstellar Overdrive”

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)

A landmark composition in the history of psychedelic rock and perhaps Syd Barrett’s greatest achievement as frontman of Pink Floyd, “Interstellar Overdrive” is only a song in the nominal sense. This sprawling, shape-shifting instrumental took on a different contour every time Barrett-era Floyd took the stage; sometimes it stretched across 20 minutes of jazzy meanderings, and other times it held tighter to that central descending guitar hook and wrapped up in a relatively concise fashion. Floyd fans who generally ignore the Barrett era may find little to love in any version of “Interstellar Overdrive”, but squint hard and it’s undeniable: The song’s wild, reckless spirit planted the seeds for Floyd as we know and love them today. –Collin Brennan
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19. “Goodbye Blue Sky”

The Wall (1979)

Pink Floyd’s political bent grew more pronounced as Roger Waters’ influence became more dominant, but rarely was it ever as pretty as it was on “Goodbye Blue Sky” — perhaps because this anti-war lamentation invokes the WWII demise of Waters’ own father, documenting his vulnerability in a way that the philosophical musings of Dark Side and the caustic commentary of Animals never could. It’s telling that Waters himself doesn’t sing on the track. Instead, David Gilmour’s vocal harmonies, a crucial but oft-overlooked aspect of Floyd’s aesthetic, float toward the heavens like the spirit of Waters’ old man. –Zach Blumenfeld
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18. “Another Brick in the Wall (Pt. 2)”

The Wall (1979)

Have you heard this one before? Of course you have. It’s without question Floyd’s most popular song among the general public, and it’s easy to see why. There are the chanting children in the classic chorus. There’s that funky, funky Gilmour guitar, and who can forget the outro that poses the question: “How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?” It’s a question as old as time and one I dare not investigate. The first (and last) Floyd single to hit number one on the Billboard charts, “Brick 2” is a classic rock staple. Chew on that, laddie! –Justin Gerber
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17. “Speak To Me / Breathe “

Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

Life is too short to yadda yadda yadda. You’ve heard that ol’ adage, right? Probably from your parents, your teachers, or even your friends. It’s good advice, though, and traditionally a bit we often forget. Reason being, life makes it so easy to get bent out of shape over the smallest details, and that’s a damn shame since life itself is a very beautiful thing. That’s more or less the conceit to “Speak to Me / Breathe”, yet the Dark Side of the Moon opener also suggests everything is par for the course — the love, the sadness, the chaos, the serenity, it’s all good. As Gilmour advises (via Waters’ own lyrics), “For long you live and high you fly/ But only if you ride the tide/ And balanced on the biggest wave/ You race towards an early grave.” In other words, take those risks, make those leaps, but never lose your footing. Simple, cogent, timeless. –Michael Roffman

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16. “Astronomy Domine”

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)

The Barrett-era of Pink Floyd kicked down the doors with the band’s debut album. The first track, “Astronomy Domine”, is miles away from the singles that preceded it, if not galaxies (No shade. “Arnold Layne” and “See Emily Play” are both beautiful and bizarre in their own rights). There’s a bit of Morse code, an indecipherable astronaut, a bumpy bass line, and all of that is before the song really starts! Delayed breakdowns, astronomy musings, and those short-lived Barrett/Wright harmonies follow. Glorious, lime, and limpid green, “Astronomy Domine” is a great representation of what could have been with Barrett at the helm. –Justin Gerber
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