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Music / Wish You Were Here

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"We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year."

Wish You Were Here is the ninth studio album by Pink Floyd. It was released in 1975. The highly anticipated follow-up to The Dark Side of the Moon, it was made as a tribute to Syd Barrett, as well as a harsh criticism of the music industry. By 1974, Pink Floyd were the biggest band in the world and had no way to cope with the sudden explosion of fame. Wish You Were Here is essentially "Artist Disillusionment: The Album", as it deals with the harsh realities of the corporate side of the music industry, and the band wishing for simpler days.

The album came to be after Roger Waters became determined to keep the band together; as a result, he became responsible for most of the band's output for most of the 1970s. This, combined with his bandmates' escalating personal troubles that limited their ability to contribute, would end up resulting in Waters becoming more and more ironfisted in his leadership before culminating in the chaotic production of The Final Cut in 1983 and Waters' departure two years after.


Barrett showed up during the mixing of the album, and his abnormal behaviour and changed appearance brought Roger Waters and Richard Wright to tears. Some reports actually place this event during sessions devoted to "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", the song explicitly paying tribute to Barrett, although recollections are hazy about specifically which songs were being worked on.

This was the band's first album to be released on their new U.S. deal with Columbia Records after what the band considered lackluster distribution by EMI's American division, Capitol Records. The band would remain on Columbia until 2000, when their rights to the post-Dark Side of the Moon albums reverted to Capitol. Because of the Columbia deal, the album went on to become one of the first fifty titles to be released on the Compact Disc format on October 1, 1982. The launch was handled by Sony, who were partnered with Columbia's parent company, CBS, in Japan; Sony would buy out CBS's worldwide music division, and Columbia with it, five years later, forming what would ultimately become Sony Music. Like the other 49 albums included in the launch lineup, the original release was only released in Japan, though the master was reused for a 1983 CD reissue in Europe. Pink Floyd's back catalog overall would prove very popular on the format. In the wake of the sale of EMI, Sony now distributes Pink Floyd's entire catalog outside of the U.K. and Europe.


The album was influential on the development of Electronic Music and specifically Synth-Pop, with its heavy use of synthesizers serving as a major influence on artists in these fields. Like its predecessor, the album was also a considerable commercial success from the get-go, topping the charts in the UK, the US, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Spain, and going on to be certified diamond in France, septuple-platinum in Australia, sextuple-platinum in the US, triple-platinum in Canada, double-platinum in the UK, Austria, and Italy, platinum in Germany, and gold in Argentina, Greece, and Poland. The album still maintains high sales to this day: in 2018, it peaked at No. 32 on the Polish Albums chart.

Wish You Were Here was supported by one single: "Have a Cigar". Fan favourites include the title track and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond".

Preceded by The Dark Side of the Moon. Proceeded by Animals.


Side One

  1. "Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I–V)note " (13:38)
  2. "Welcome to the Machine" (7:30)

Side Two

  1. "Have a Cigar" (5:24)
  2. "Wish You Were Here" (5:40)
  3. "Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI–IX)note " (12:29)

Principal Members:

  • David Gilmour - lead vocals, guitar, synthesizer, keyboard, tape effects
  • Nick Mason - drums, percussion, tape effects
  • Roger Waters - lead vocals, bass, guitar, VCS3, tape effects
  • Richard Wright - keyboard, vocals, VCS3, clavinet

"And did we tell you the name of the trope, boy?":

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" has a couple of lines in this vein:
    You were caught on the crossfire of childhood and stardom,
    (...) Well, you wore out your welcome with random precision,
    (...) come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!
  • Animal Motifs: "Wish You Were Here"
    We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl
  • Answer Song: The Title Track appears to be one to "Jugband Blues" off of A Saucerful of Secrets, the band's last album with Syd; "Jugband Blues" opens with the lines "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," while the chorus of "Wish You Were Here" starts "how I wish/how I wish you were here," indicating the band's unfulfilled wish to be able to perform with Syd again like they used to.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: They really let the music industry have it on "Welcome to the Machine" and "Have a Cigar".
  • The Blank: The back cover depicts a faceless man in the desert dressed in business attire and hawking Pink Floyd records. To add to the effect, the man's wrists and ankles (the only parts of his body that show besides his "face") are invisible, implying that on some level he doesn't even exist, which ties into the album's theme of absence.
  • Bookends: Parts I–V of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" start off the album with a G minor chord fading in. Parts VI–IX fade out in G major to end the album.
  • Breather Episode: "Have a Cigar", an upbeat and comical piece placed after the dark and gloomy "Welcome to the Machine". Both songs are critiques towards the music industry, but the former does so in a more lighthearted manner.
  • British English: "He loved to drive in his Jag-u-ar..."
  • Call-Back:
    • Near the end of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", the melody of the first line of "See Emily Play" is played during the keyboard outro. The intro to Parts VI–IX with the synthesized wind and bassline recalls "One of These Days".
    • The intro to "Wish You Were Here" with the radio bit is a call back to the The Journey/The Man shows in 1969 that had the band take an on-stage tea break with the radio playing.
    • The pyramid in the background of the label recalls the cover of the band's previous album, The Dark Side of the Moon.
  • Comically Missing the Point: "By the way, which one's Pink?", a lyric from "Have a Cigar" that was actually asked of the band.
  • Concept Album: The album was inspired by Syd Barrett's decline, and the band's struggles with fame, fortune and the music business, the same business that would devour Syd in The '60s.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: "Have a Cigar" is sung from the perspective of one.
    We're just knocked out
    We heard about the sell-out
    You gotta get an album out
    You owe it to the people. We're so happy we can hardly count.
    • "Welcome to the Machine" is also sung from that point of view, although this one is more in the style of The Devil Is a Loser.
  • Deconstruction: "Welcome to the Machine" deconstructs The Man Is Sticking It to the Man by pointing out that for all their illusions of rebellion and 'truth', rock stars and musicians ultimately become as big a cog of the corporate-driven music industry as the executives are.
    Welcome, my son, welcome to the machine
    Where have you been?
    It's alright, we know where you've been...
    You bought a guitar to punish your ma
    And you didn't like school, and you know you're nobody's fool
    So welcome to the machine.
  • Dramatic Timpani: During the synthesizer solo in "Welcome to the Machine".
  • Elemental Motifs: The sticker on the album shrink wrap represents all four elements: fire, wind, water, earth. The photos on the cover can also represent the elements: the burning man (fire), the trees (wind), the diving man (water), and the faceless man in the desert (earth).
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: There is nearly nine minutes of instrumental buildup (the drums and bass themselves don't enter until the 4-minute mark!) before the vocals enter in the first half of "Shine On". The second half has this too, with the vocals only entering at five minutes into the recording.
  • Epic Rocking: The prize goes to "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", whose various sections add up to 26:01, making it the longest Floyd song ever. It was originally going to take up one side of the vinyl, before being split in two. "Welcome to the Machine" also qualifies for this as well, going for exactly 7½ minutes.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: The intro to "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" was done with the old "wet fingertip on the wine glass" trick, massively overdubbed. The sound was a remnant of an aborted album concept called Household Objects, in which objects found around the house would be used to sound like the band's own instruments. The project was abandoned after several weeks of work yielded little results, though of two completed pieces, "Wine Glasses" was included in the 2011 Immersion Box Set version of Wish You Were Here.
  • Fading into the Next Song: The whole album, basically. The only exception is between "Welcome to the Machine" and "Have a Cigar", a result of that being the point where Side A of the LP version ends and Side B begins. As a result, the shift between those two songs is unusually abrupt when listening to the album on CD or digitally.
  • Feelies: Vinyl copies came with a postcard of the diving man.
  • Freaky Is Cool: "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" says this about Syd Barrett.
    Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
    come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!
  • Fun with Acronyms: "Shine On You Crazy Diamond".
  • Gratuitous Panning: The synth pulses throughout "Welcome to the Machine" pan from left to right ear and back.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: When it came time to record "Have a Cigar", Roger Waters and David Gilmour each did a solo attempt and a duet (available in the 2011 special edition) but were still dissatisfied - Waters' case is even attributed to him blowing his voice singing "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" - so they picked up Singer-Songwriter Roy Harper, who was also recording in Abbey Road and had Gilmour doing some guitar for him, to sing lead. Waters later regretted using a guest vocalist, thinking he should have sung the final version.
  • Homage: This album to Syd Barrett, particularly "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and "Wish You Were Here".
  • Limited Lyrics Song: "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". The first part has less than three minutes of lyrics in a song over 13 minutes long. The second part is about 12:30 minutes long and only has a minute's worth of lyrics.
  • Manchild: "Shine On You Crazy Diamond"
    Come on, you boy child
  • Man on Fire: The Hipgnosis cover has a picture of two businessmen shaking hands with one of them on fire, which is a visual metaphor for being "burned" in the music industry. It was recreated in the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games, when after crossing a tightrope, a British man took the hand of a dummy in a business suit that then caught fire, while the song of the same name was being played below.
  • The Man Is Sticking It to the Man: Basically, the theme of "Welcome to the Machine". The band start out thinking they're edgy and rebellious, but the Machine is able to predict their every move and profit from it.
  • Music Is Politics: "Have a Cigar" is about record company pressure to have a hit album.
  • Mythology Gag: "Oh, by the way, which one's Pink?" in "Have a Cigar" was a real question by a music agent.
  • Sampling: The "radio bridge" between "Have a Cigar" and "Wish You Were Here".
  • Sanity Slippage Song: "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" was about (the now late) Syd Barrett's general craziness, before he left. He showed up at the studio by sheer coincidence while the rest of the band was recording the song, and no one recognized him for a while.
  • Scenery Porn: The diving man photo was taken at Mono Lake, California, where the mineral content of the water resulted in the unusual rock formations.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The classical music heard during "Wish You Were Here" is Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Fourth Symphony".
    • The black shrink wrap on the first pressing of the album was inspired by the U.S. version of Roxy Music's album Country Life being packaged the same way to cover up the two topless women on the cover.
    • The faceless man on the back cover was influenced by René Magritte.
    • The radio intro to "Wish You Were Here" recalls John Cage's "Imaginary Landscape No. 4 (March No. 2)" that involved twelve radios being tuned.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: Taken to an unusually extreme degree on the original CD release of the albumnote , which sequences each side of the record into a single track. Each of these two tracks is, however, subdivided into the individual songs using the indexing feature only found on the earliest CD players; CD releases from 1984 onwards would instead feature each song as a separate track, making the two-track version a coveted rarity among CD collectors.
  • So What Do We Do Now?: Pretty much the state of mind of the band just before and during the early sessions.
    David Gilmour: It was a very difficult period, I have to say. All your childhood dreams had been sort of realised and we had the biggest selling records in the world and all the things you got into it for. The girls and the money and the fame and all that stuff... Everything had sort of come our way and you had to reassess what you were in it for thereafter, and it was a pretty confusing and sort of empty time for a while.
  • Special Guest: Roy Harper sings lead on "Have a Cigar".
  • Take That!: The faceless man in the desert is a reference to a magazine ad for a French soft drink that the band did.
  • Uncommon Time: "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" features a rubatonote  intro, followed by 6/8, 12/8, 4/4, 6/8 and 4/4 again.
  • Ur-Example: "Welcome to the Machine" is one for industrial songs, released the same year Throbbing Gristle formed.
  • Variant Cover: Cassette, 8-track, and early European CD releases used the handshake logo from the sticker that was affixed over the black shrink wrap on the first vinyl pressings, with a white or black background depending on the country.
  • Visual Pun: The Hipgnosis cover art has many images regarding absence - a swimmer who doesn't make a splash, a flying veil covering a nude woman, and a faceless "Floyd salesman". The front cover also features a man on fire while making a business handshake, symbolizing him "getting burned" (read: getting an unfair or minimized result) by the deal he's making.
  • Vocal Range Exceeded: "Welcome to the Machine", where one line required trickery to achieve the right pitch.
    David Gilmour: It was a line I just couldn't reach so we dropped the tape down half a semitone.


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