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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 ???

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85 responses to “Top Ten Pink Floyd Songs for Audiophiles”

  1. 1 – I don’t think that if a song is good and I like it then it becomes a bad song if it’s a “overplayed media cliches popularized by mainstream pop culture”

    2 – I don’t (can’t?) include Division Bell in my Pink Floyd albums list

  2. Jeff Starr 2008/07/30 8:30 am

    @Marshall: Even the overplayed Floyd songs are excellent, it all depends on how you listen to them. For example, whenever I hear a song like Wish You Were Here on the radio, I tend to cringe a little bit, but then find myself able to enjoy it in more of a nostalgic sort of way. Conversely, when I am working on art or the computer, and am diving into Floyd music with the headphones on, listening to Wish You Were Here is an incredible and inspiring experience.

    @H5N1: I certainly agree with your first statement, especially when it comes to Pink Floyd. I do think many Floyd songs are overplayed on the radio (and have been for many years), but that is only because they are great songs. As suggested in the previous comment, it’s all a matter of perspective when listening to Pink Floyd. Also, I absolutely agree with you (and others) that The Division Bell — as “neat” as it is — does not qualify as a true Pink Floyd album. Further, as much as I enjoy Momentary Lapse of Reason, I do not consider it a “real” Floyd release.

  3. Marv Chomer 2008/09/17 6:26 pm
    1. Echoes
    2. Sheep
    3. Dogs
    4. Us and Them
    5. Shine on you Crazy Diamond
    6. On the Run/Time
    7. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
    8. Not gonna be on many lists but When the Tigers Broke Free
    9. The Final Cut
    10. Pigs

    As you can see — I really like Animals!

  4. Jeff Starr 2008/09/21 8:37 am

    Excellent selections, Marv. Animals is my favorite Pink Floyd album of all time. It is so absolutely heavy and moving that I can’t do anything else when I listen to it. Just have to lie down with the headphones on and let it go..

    Also enjoy When the Tigers Broke Free, although I agree that many won’t agree with that one. Also rare on top-ten lists is anything off the Final Cut.. another excellent album that demands your full attention.

  5. Interesting list!

    I think that Meddle is my favourite album – mostly because it brings back memories of my teenage years.

    My favourite song (at this moment, it can change from day to day) is Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

  6. Jeff Starr 2008/09/24 2:48 pm

    Meddle is another excellent album, indeed. I especially enjoy A Pillow of Winds, Fearless, and San Tropez — such a diverse array of music demonstrated in just three songs, which are then further contrasted against the heaviness of One of these Days, the Echoes odyssey, and the eclectic nonsense of howling hound sounds. Or something.

  7. Marv Chomer 2008/09/24 3:36 pm

    If I had to rate albums in order it would be:

    1. Animals
    2. Meddle
    3. Dark Side
    4. The Final Cut
    5. 5+6 (Tie) Wish you Were Here and The Wall

    It’s funny because the first time I listened to Animals and Meddle–I didn’t like them. The second time, I was hooked. I watched Live at Pompei years ago and hated it–now, it blows me away. It’s amazing to me.

    Also, I have seen Roger Waters a few times in concert and TOTALLY avoided the new Pink Floyd and you know what? I just bought The Division Bell and it does have some treats in it. I also just bought David Gilmore’s new DVD and actually liked some of his new stuff (On an Island) as well as the newest rendition of Echoes–fantastic! Too bad R. Wright just passed away–I think I would have gone to see the new Floyd without Waters after all these years of avoiding them.


  8. Marv Chomer 2008/09/24 3:38 pm

    By the way–I do a lot of programming and when I need to tune out the wife/kids/TV–I listen to Animals, Dark Side, Meddle and Wish you Were Here–get a lot of work done that way.

  9. Jeff Starr 2008/09/27 6:56 pm

    Hi Marv, it sounds like we have a lot in common. I remember not liking Ummagumma, Animals, or the Final Cut at first listen. I have always liked Wish you Were Here and Dark Side of the Moon, but for some reason the sound of some of the other albums just didn’t “click” until after the third or fourth time hearing them. Now, many years later, I think that they are some of the finest albums ever recorded. They are indeed “amazing.”

    I was lucky enough to see both Roger Waters and Pink Floyd (well, “Floyd” without Waters). The Floyd concert in Vancouver was good, but the Waters show at the Columbia Gorge blew me away; it was excellent.

    Speaking of “new” Floyd, I have always liked Momentary Lapse of Reason, and have to agree that there are some gems on Division Bell (e.g., Coming Back to Life). I can only imagine how different these albums would have been with Roger Waters.

    Now, getting to On an Island, at first I wanted to avoid it because About Face was so terrible. But now that I have heard several good reviews (including yours), I am thinking that it might be worth a listen, especially if it includes a new rendition of Echoes (another one of my favorites). Btw, have you heard Gilmour’s first, self-titled solo album? It takes a few listens, but it is SO good.

    Lastly, your comment was the first I had heard that Richard Wright had passed away. That really sucks. I read that Gilmour had some kind words to say about him, and also played a moving rendition of Remember a Day as a tribute. Needless to say, I will be listening to Pink Floyd from a slightly different perspective now that he is gone..

    Ditto on your second comment ;)

  10. So far, my favorite albums are:

    1. Meddle
    2. The Final Cut
    3. More
    4. A Momentary Lapse of Reason
    5. Ummagumma

    I still don’t have A Saucerful of Secrets or The Division Bell, so please don’t get mad that they are’nt on there. If I had to choose a favorite song, it would probably be Echoes with Two Suns In the Sunset next in line.

    BTW, the backround wallpaper on this site is cool.

  11. Jeff Starr 2008/10/06 8:37 am

    Hi Sage! Another excellent list of favorites. Personally, I would swap out Momentary Lapse of Reason for something like Animals or Wish you Were Here. Also, you must listen to Saucerful of Secrets — even if you hate it (and you won’t), it is one of the best Pink Floyd albums ever recorded. Some of the songs require a few listens, but others (and you will know which ones I am talking about) will immediately inspire you. As for the Division Bell, don’t sweat it, there are a couple gems, but that’s about it. Btw, thanks for the compliment on the background graphics! ;)

  12. Well, I have heard Corporal Clegg and Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun, but i’m too broke to by any more albums right now. I’ve also heard that The Division Bell was’nt very good and Marooned and High Hopes are the only ones worth listening to. Anyway, I might swap out A Momentary Lapse for The Wall.

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