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

  1. comfortably numb is great, but hasnt much to offer with hq equipment.

  2. my favorite albums best to worst:

    1. Dark Side of the Moon
    2. Division Bell
    3. The Wall
    4. Animals
    5. Wish You Were Here
    6. Meddle
    7. Obscured By Clouds
    8. A Momentary Lapse of Reason
    9. Atom Heart Mother
    10. Ummagumma
    11. A Saucerful of Secrets
    12. The Final Cut
    13. Piper At the Gates of Dawn (respect it but way better live)
    14. More
  3. Why hasn’t interstellar overdrive been mentioned? the ending with headphones is perfect and trippy. Lucifer Sam is also very good with headphones. or barely any early stuff. Its absolutely amazing. Paint box is also very good. my favorite period goes right up to Meddle. One of these day and Echoes are the best of that album. the one thing i love about piper is all the songs except gnome have sick instrumental sections. and gnome amazing as it is.

  4. Avatar photo
    Jeff Starr 2009/07/08 8:36 am

    Hi Adrian, thanks for mentioning these songs. I agree that their earlier stuff is absolutely incredible and always an intense ride. They wouldn’t be Floyd without it.

  5. sean don. 2009/09/08 2:49 pm
    1. pigs on the wing
    2. pillow of winds
    3. grantchester meadows
    4. goodbye cruel world
    5. nobody home/vera
    6. mother
    7. wish you were here
    8. set the controls for the heart of the sun
    9. or (stcfthots)
    10. bike
    11. stoned alone

    i think pink floyd songs i made into 5 catorgies

    1. soft folk
    2. hard rock
    3. expermential
    4. syd barret days
    5. new floyd
  6. gerrard8dg 2009/10/18 7:49 am

    heres my list:

    1. echoes
    2. one the run/time
    3. one of these days!!!
    4. dogs
    5. shine on you crazy diamond
    6. wish you were here
    7. careful with the axe eugene
    8. money
    9. sorrow
    10. another brick in the wall

    to be frank, tho i like comfortably numb, i think pink floyd has much more to offer..

  7. Avatar photo

    Glad I’m not the only one that thinks Fearless is their best song. I love all of their stuff, but nothing strikes me like that one.

  8. Avatar photo
    Jeff Starr 2009/12/05 9:57 pm

    Amen, Eric! I couldn’t agree more =)

  9. First off great list. Probably the one of the best I’ve ever seen. I enjoyed your limiting of The Wall, and Dark Side of the Moon. Here is my List:

    1. Hey You
    2. Fearless
    3. Pigs
    4. Jugband Blues
    5. Nobody Home
    6. Wish you were here
    7. Sheep
    8. Dogs
    9. On The Turning Away
    10. Comfortably Numb

    I love all of Pink Floyds albums but for some reason Animals just gets to me. It is perfect in every way, except that it only works as an album for me. I must listen to all of it. But song wise Hey You and Fearless are both perfect songs. One point I disagree with you on is that Jugband Blues is vastly superior to Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun if you want to talk about Saucer Full Of Secrets. Excelent list otherwise. Well done.

  10. Avatar photo
    Jeff Starr 2010/02/14 2:08 pm

    Hi Paul,

    Good stuff. I have been listening to a lot of early Pink Floyd recently and have to admit that Jugband Blues is an incredible song, especially the second or so half of it where it drifts off into instrumental flow. I still think that Set the Controls is a better song, especially the extended version.

    I also like that you have basically the entire Animals album on there. It is their finest hour as a band, I think. Don’t forget about the “heart” of Animals: Pigs on the Wing (I & II). Btw, the FULL version of that song is incredible — features a movingly deep solo by Gilmour. Must have.

    On the Turning Away is okay, but not on my top 50 list. Wish You You Were Here is awesome, but I have heard it too many times thanks to its mainstream popularity.

    Great list — thanks for sharing!

    Fearless should be #1!

  11. Hi… this is a really good list (btw i found 3 new songs here that were amazing), I recently started listening to Floyd about 2-3 months now and I am not that big a fan as some of you here definitely are but all I want to say is Pink Floyd has an awful lot of good songs and the best list can and will definitely vary from person to person. This is something I really love about these guys, there is something for everyone.

    P.S. Pink Floyd and Beatles are the GODS that walked this earth !

  12. Avatar photo
    Jeff Starr 2010/03/29 3:55 pm

    Thanks for the feedback Abhishek. Pink Floyd will draw you in if you let them. I encourage you (and everyone) to listen to as much of their early stuff as possible. It will help you better appreciate the amazing things they achieved on their later stuff, like Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Here, Animals, and The Wall.

    Also, to you and anyone else reading, I would like to announce the opening of my new Floyd site, PinkFloydThoughts. I’ll be posting frequently and love the discussion. So drop on by and share your thoughts! :)

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