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Top Ten Pink Floyd Songs for Audiophiles

[ Photo: Pink Floyd ] The music of Pink Floyd is an audiophile’s wet dream. It is at once diverse, complex, intricate, rhythmic, mysterious, and downright heavy. The vastly inspiring soundscapes created by Pink Floyd are perfect for late nights spent working on the computer. Given a nice pair of high-quality headphones, the following hand-picked collection of Pink Floyd songs is sure to elevate your listening experience to the next level.

#10: Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
Over five minutes of pure sonic bliss. An excellent example of why Pink Floyd remains highly influential within experimental, electronic, and ambient music genres. Originally released on Saucerful of Secrets.
#09: Obscured by Clouds
The title track on Floyd’s second film score, Obscured by Clouds, is slow and heavy, like some murderous drama played backwards and in slow motion. Hard to believe they threw this down in 1972.
#08: The Narrow Way
This is a complex, deeply moving set of 3 songs from Ummagumma. The three tracks unfold in timeless mystery, invoking a mystical depression that is secretly explored and finally resolved in the final set. Even after listening to this song hundreds of times, I still cannot claim to fully comprehend its layered meanings. If you are familiar with this song, I would love to hear your interpretation.
#07: Astronomy Domine
There are several “official” recorded versions of Astronomy Domine (e.g., Ummagumma), each of them incredible in their own unique way. For me, the song’s brilliant intensity became all too real after hearing (and seeing) it played live by Pink Floyd in Vancouver, B.C. The arena was packed. After a long wait for the band to begin, the subtle sounds of a trickling stream slowly filled the atmosphere. Just as we began to trip out on the flowing waters, the stadium was ripped apart with the explosive opening sequence of Astronomy Domine. I almost crapped myself. Absolutely unforgettable.
#06: On the Run / Time
Many people have heard Dark Side of the Moon, but few know it well enough to discern the different songs, especially on the first half of the album. After opening with Speak to Me and Breathe, the musical voyage drifts into the surreal soundscape of On the Run, which suddenly bursts into the monumental track, Time. Although this entire four-song opening sequence is perhaps the Floyd’s finest offering, Time stands out as a highly profound, musically diverse meditation of perpetual relevance. Most essential.
#05: Shine on You Crazy Diamond
This song is broken up into two halves, each which is further divided into distinct segments (parts I – V and VI – IX). Taken in its entirety, Shine on is a timeless voyage that invites focus, inspires memory, and invokes emotion. To many, Shine on epitomizes the essence of the Pink Floyd sound. Originally released on Wish You Were Here.
#04: Another Brick in the Wall
Taken together, Pink Floyd’s three-piece set from The Wall is about as diverse and musically intense as it gets. The set opens with a quiet, subconscious contemplation, breaks into a chanting academic rock anthem (with a scorching, first-take Gilmour solo), and concludes with an existential resolution and transcendental momentum. As delivered, these songs provide context to The Wall while demonstrating the musical maturity of the band.
#03: Dogs / Pigs
If you are unfamiliar with Animals, you are missing out on some of Pink Floyd’s highest, heaviest, most intense music. On every level — musically, lyrically, emotionally — Animals will utterly peel your cap back. If you lack the time to sit through the entire recording, focus on either Pigs or Dogs (or both). You may not “get it” the first time (or three), but rest assured, it’s all there. Quality headphones absolutely mandatory.
#02: Unknown Song
A surprising number of Pink Floyd fans have never heard this brilliant song. Originally released on the relatively rare Zabriskie Point soundtrack, the Unknown Song is Pink Floyd flowing at their best, a timeless expression of instrumental bliss. Best if taken with zero stress, a relaxed mood, and an open mind.
#01: Fearless
This is my all-time favorite Pink Floyd song. I am moved to tears (in a good way) nearly every time I listen to it. The lyrics speak to me on many levels, and the music represents Floyd flowing together as one. I love the way the song ends with a chorus of “You’ll never walk alone.” — Very intense and inspiring. Originally released on Meddle.

Speak to me..

One of the great things about Pink Floyd is that they mean so many different things to so many different people. Everybody who listens to them does so for a different reason. And there are countless great Pink Floyd songs — some would even argue that they are all great. Still, highlighting a few favorites is a great way to help others discover some great music. So, for the Floyd heads out there, what are your favorites, and why? Top three? Top ten? Top ???

Jeff Starr
About the Author Jeff Starr = Designer. Developer. Producer. Writer. Editor. Etc.
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85 responses
  1. What to say further more? :)
    Maybe I’d include also Cirrus Minor.
    That song is so sad and beatiful at the same time.
    Anyway Pink Floyd are my favourite band :D

  2. i love “ehoes” from the live in pompeii set, or meddle lp. great idea for a post, nice one.

  3. Jeff Starr

    Yes, Cirrus Minor and Echoes both deserve to be included on the list. I have to admit that my selections were a bit biased because of my desire to represent as many albums as possible, especially for everything released after Dark Side of the Moon. Otherwise, I think Echoes would have replaced Another Brick in the Wall and Cirrus Minor would have replaced Obscured by Clouds or something else, after a bit of rearranging ;)

  4. I’m agree! :)

  5. nowhere.elysium May 1, 2008 @ 12:18 pm

    I’d have to say that you need ‘Wish You Were Here’ out: it’s a beautiful song, even if the lyrical theme is a little hackneyed – the whole ‘War is bad, mmmmkay?’ thing is a bit overdone, but it is masterfully replayed in this track.

    Just my 2c

  6. Jeff Starr

    Yes, thanks for the feedback.. although I am not entirely clear as to your meaning. Are you saying that Wish You Were Here needs to be added, or needs to be taken out? I assume you meant the former because it’s not on the list to begin with. In any case, I agree that it is a beautiful song, even if it has been (over)played to death. Also, about the lyrics, to suggest that they have anything to do with a “War is bad” theme is a bit of a stretch. As far as I can tell, the song deals more with longing, friendship, and growing (apart) than it does with war. Granted, many other Floyd lyrics deal with the subject of war — perhaps you were thinking of a different song?

  7. Nice to see ackowledgment of the Unknown Song as Pink Floyd at their best. Thier are three versions of it I know of, one of them is very hard to find, the other is often listed as ‘Rain in the Country’. They all have thier own charm. I would add Pillow of Winds, Fat Old Sun, Ibiza Bar, Matilda Mother and Flaming to the list but I guess theres no room.

  8. Jeff Starr

    Three different versions of the Unknown Song? Seriously? And I call myself a fan. The only version that I am familiar with is the one included on Zabriskie Point. I don’t suppose you would be kind enough to point me in the right direction for the other two versions..? I would be extremely grateful ;) Btw, I completely agree about your additional song choices. — Time for a new list! :)

  9. Michael Decker July 28, 2008 @ 6:35 pm

    I love these so called fans and leave out songs like numb, SFOS, CBTL, RLH, WTTM, UAT, WYWH, and for the love of everything Echoes, off top 10 list?

    Pathetic

  10. Jeff Starr

    Hi Michael, thanks for sharing your favorite Pink Floyd songs! You are obviously a bigger fan than any of us, throwing all those fancy acronyms around! For the record, here is what a “real” Floyd fan considers to be the top ten Pink Floyd songs of all time:

    Michael Decker’s Top Ten Pink Floyd Songs

    • Comfortably Numb
    • Saucerful of Secrets
    • Coming Back to Life
    • Run Like Hell
    • Welcome to the Machine
    • Us and Them
    • Wish You Were Here
    • Echoes

    Granted, that’s only eight songs, but at least they aren’t as “pathetic” as my choices, right? Thanks again for enlightening us mere mortals, Michael! ;)

  11. August Klotz July 29, 2008 @ 7:40 am

    Speaking of pathetic, Michael’s third favorite song is from the pathetically lame “Division Bell”, which is basically a glorified Gilmour album with guest appearances by Mason and Wright — Roger Waters had nothing to do with it. Call me pathetic, but without Waters, it just ain’t Pink Floyd!

  12. Ack! Comfortably Numb? Run Like Hell? Wish You Were Here?!?! Seriously?! Give me a break, Michael — half of your “Top Ten” choices are overplayed media cliches popularized by mainstream pop culture. They appear on just about every uninspired, unoriginal top-ten list ever created! Try reaching back a little further into the archives, and for the love of all that’s right and good in the world, “Division Bell” is NOT a Pink Floyd album!!

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