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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 = Fullstack Developer. Book Author. Teacher. Human Being.
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85 responses
  1. PINK-FILLIX April 8, 2009 @ 8:20 am

    My top 10 Pink Floyd Song:

    • Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)
    • Wish You Were Here
    • Comfortably Numb
    • Shine On You Crazy Diamond
    • Time
    • Echoes
    • Money
    • Hey You
    • Pigs (Three Different Ones)
    • Learning To Fly

    My Top 10 Pink Floyd Album:

    • The Wall
    • The Dark Side Of The Moon
    • Wish You Were Here
    • Animals
    • The Division Bell
    • A Saucerful Of Secrets
    • A Momentary Lapse Of Reason
    • Meddle
    • The Piper Gates Of Dawn
    • Atom Heart Mother
  2. Jeff Starr

    I know what you mean! I think it all depends on the mood that I am in at the time. When I am up, then early Floyd hits the spot. When I am down, I like to lurk within the shadows of The Wall. And for just about everything else, I think Dark Side of the Moon is about as perfect as it gets.

  3. Johnny Rockets April 15, 2009 @ 6:23 am

    I was surprised reading this that no one had mentioned Atom Heart Mother Suite. I quite often listen to that while working. But I would have to say that The Wall, Dark Side & Wish You Were Here get a thrashing while I work.

    I hate the arguments over wether a album with Roger Waters is a Floyd album or not. If you take this logic then nor are any albums with out Syd Barrett true Floyd albums either. Go check the writing credits on Piper at the Gates – almost all Barrett. Waters, Gilmour, Wright & Mason all contributed over the years on many albums – espically Ummagumma.

    For those who think Comfortably Numb is too commercial I don’t care – that solo blows me away everytime. I’ve started collecting differnet live versions of it just for the nuanice of it each time Dave plays. It doesn’t help when they edit out a couple of minutes on some of the offical release live recordings.

  4. Jeff Starr

    @Johnny Rockets: As far as I understand it, the argument that Floyd isn’t “Floyd” without Waters rests entirely on the presence of Roger Waters himself. The idea here is that Waters’ influence is essential for Pink Floyd to work. This line of thinking does not extend to any other member of the band. In other words, your logic is mistaken because it assumes that the argument holds true for any Floyd member. If this were the case, then there is only one true Pink Floyd album, Saucerful of Secrets, which involved all five members of the band. Obviously this isn’t the case.

  5. No-one included ‘Bike’ on their list!

    I’ve got a bike
    You can ride it if you like
    It’s got a basket
    A bell that rings
    And things to make it look good …

    Pure poetry!

  6. Well, as Pink Floyd are my favourite band, this list is subject to constant revision.

    1. Comfortably Numb
    2. Echoes
    3. Shine On You Crazy Diamond
    4. Dogs
    5. Wish You Were Here
    6. Us and Them
    7. Time
    8. Sheep
    9. Run Like Hell
    10. The Final Cut

    Post-Waters Pink Floyd was okay, but lacking Waters’ lyrical genius. “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” is, in my opinion, a very poor album, though Gilmour redeemed himself somewhat with “The Division Bell”, which is a pretty good album.

    Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd are, all joking aside, best appreciated whilst under the influence (of any intoxicant.) My favourite Barrett-PF songs are “Lucifer Sam” and “Arnold Layne”, and he wrote some great solo stuff too – “Here I Go”, “Dominoes”, “Gigolo Aunt”, “Octopus” etc. Whilst what happened to Syd was a tragic shame, I feel that ultimately Pink Floyd were better off without him.

    Favourite albums:

    1. The Dark Side of the Moon
    2. Wish You Were Here
    3. Animals
    4. The Wall
    5. The Final Cut
    6. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
    7. Meddle
    8. The Division Bell
    9. Obscured By Clouds
    10. Relics (patchy, but it has some classics e.g. “Arnold Layne” and “Cirrus Minor)

    However, I maintain that the greatest album of all time (even greater than “TDSOTM”) is Roger Waters’ “Amused To Death”. Check it out – it’s an incredible album.

  7. Jeff Starr

    @Fintan: We have much in common! All of your ten-best songs have made my list at one point or another, but these days I don’t include most of the overplayed stuff, especially Comfortably Numb, Wish You Were Here and such. But I totally agree that these lists tend to change with my mood, the time of day, and even the seasons. Here is a seasonal summary of Floyd listening preferences:

    • Spring — Meddle, Obscured by Clouds
    • Summer — Dark Side, Wish You Were Here
    • Autumn — Animals, Wall, Final Cut
    • Winter — Early Floyd (first five albums)

    But even that list changes from year to year. I have some really great memories of listening to early Floyd’s laid-back, groovy, instrumental, psychedelic stuff during cold, dark winter nights, if you know what I mean. Similar to other seasons, memories of great listening experiences in the past have inspired certain listening habits. Nothing beats kicking back on a beautiful summer evening listening to the atmospheric orchestration of Wish You Were Here.

    For the solo stuff, not much to shout about there, especially where Gilmour-powered stuff is concerned (although his first solo album is one of my favorite all-time albums). Waterless Floyd? Not so much, and I really didn’t care for Division Bell, even though the concert was pretty good. But I wholeheartedly and 100% agree with you that Waters’ Amused to Death is an incredible album — one of the best ever recorded and arguably the best Floyd-related album ever.

    For the Syd material, I second your general take — it’s pretty hard to sit through unless you are zonked out of your skull. By far, Birdie Hop is one of Barrett’s finest poetic/lyrical moments.

  8. Your seasonal approach to Pink Floyd is interesting – I’ve never come across an idea quite like that before. I would have to say:

    • Spring — “Meddle”, “Obscured By Clouds” and “The Division Bell”
    • Summer — “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” and “Wish You Were Here”
    • Autumn — “The Dark Side of the Moon”, “Animals” and “The Wall”
    • Winter — “The Final Cut”

    “Piper”, after all, was from the “Summer of Love” in 1967. The Autumn material is all quite dark, especially “Animals”, which for me has a unique power that I am yet to find anywhere else, even in “The Wall”. Perhaps it’s my sentimentality – “Animals” was the album which sparked my obsession with Pink Floyd in the first place. I still get chills listening to “Dogs” now, especially the intro, as it was the first Pink Floyd song I ever listened to.

    As for “Waterless Floyd”, I am in conflict with myself over whether or not post-Waters Pink Floyd is really Pink Floyd at all. For me, Pink Floyd is partly about the synergy achieved by the four members, but mainly about Roger Waters’ genius. The brilliance of Gilmour and Wright comes across as a tad bland and middle-of-the-road without a guiding force i.e. Roger Waters. In my opinion, their finest hour was “The Dark Side of the Moon”, where they all contributed considerably not only to the overall feel of the album, but to the songwriting (even Nick Mason has a couple of credits.) That being said, Waters-dominated Floyd (everything after “DSOTM” up until he left), is fantastic and easily better than their earlier stuff, which, up until “Meddle”, lacked any real purpose or direction.

    “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” has a classic album cover but largely terrible music. “Sorrow” is a classic PF song, but besides that, only “Learning to Fly” helps give “Momentary Lapse” any redeeming qualities (“One Slip” is okay as well, I guess, but it’s hardly up to the standards of pre-1984 Pink Floyd.) “The Division Bell”, however, I find on the whole to be a good album. “High Hopes” is a highly moving song, and besides a couple of very average tunes, I feel that the album as a whole was easily David Gilmour’s finest hour as a songwriter.

    To me, post-Waters “Pink Floyd” is a bit like “post-Lennon The Beatles”. It just doesn’t feel right to the point of seeming absurd. I am more inclined to regard Gilmour, Wright and Mason as just that – Gilmour, Wright and Mason – and not Pink Floyd.

  9. I would have to say my favorite albums would be like this:

    1. Wish You Were Here
    2. Dark Side of the Moon
    3. Meddle
    4. Animals
    5. The Wall
    6. Atom Heart Mother
    7. Piper at the Gates of Dawn
    8. Saucerful of Secrets.

    Songs:

    1. Breathe
    2. Shine on
    3. Comfortably Numb (PULSE version)
    4. Echoes
    5. Fat Old Sun
    6. One of These Days
    7. Another Brick in the Wall (all parts)
    8. Time
    9. Dogs
    10. Lucifer Sam
  10. id put atom heart mother in there. its great to listen to with hq headphones with all the brass instruments playing. i also think the entire division bell album is great for audio[hiles since the quality is so rich and so much greatness

    1. A Saucerful of Secrets (Live – Ummagumma)
    2. Echoes
    3. The Embryo (Live – Peel Sessions)
    4. Careful With That Axe Eugene (Live – Ummagumma)
    5. Time
    6. Childhood’s End
    7. The Great Gig in the Sky
    8. Shine On You Crazy Diamond
    9. Dogs
    10. Us and Them

    No one else on here mentioned Childhood’s End. It is easily the best song on Obscured by Clouds and seems to be overlooked quite often.

  11. Good list, but where is Comfortably Numb?

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