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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. Jason Malfait July 11, 2011 @ 11:34 pm

    This 3-year-long discussion just goes to show timeless Floyd is. Here are my top 10 as of today but that could change at any time.

    1. Time
    2. Echoes
    3. Comfortably Numb
    4. Wish You Were Here
    5. Shine On You Crazy Diamond
    6. Fearless
    7. Us and Them
    8. Pigs
    9. Have a Cigar
    10. Another Brick In the Wall, Part 2
  2. Gotta say, it seems like, when discussing a band’s entire catalog (especially one as prolific and varied as Pink Floyd), it can easily turn into a “I like (insert obscure, offbeat title)” and “I can’t believe you would list (insert popular, radio-friendly, or extremely accessible title).” With Pink Floyd, you’ve got people that are loyal to Syd, Roger, David, or any combination (with Gilmour alone being the least favorite). There is no doubt in my mind that Pink Floyd produced their greatest music up to and including “The Wall.” I only include “The Wall” because I truly love “Hey You”, “Nobody Home”, “Goodbye Blue Sky”, “Comfortably Numb”, “Mother”, and “Is There Anybody Out There.”

    I find “Learning to Fly” decent lyrically, but a bit “80’s. However, “On the Turning Away” stands aside any Floyd song of any era. I agree about “The Division Bell.” Whether it is “truly Pink Floyd” in name, it definitely lacks the PF feel.

    I dig “A Saucerful of Secrets”, but am really not hugely into the Syd-era sound because, to me, the truly classic Pink Floyd sound really took shape from “Meddle” and ran through “Obscured By Clouds”, “DSOTM”, “Wish You Were Here”, “Animals”, and some of “The Wall”.

    My top ten tracks of all-time:

    1. Dogs
    2. Us and Them
    3. Echoes
    4. Burning Bridges
    5. Welcome to the Machine
    6. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
    7. On The Turning Away
    8. Hey You
    9. The Great Gig in the Sky
    10. Goodbye Blue Sky

    If I were talking to someone with absolutely no knowledge of PF whatsoever, I would hand them some high-quality headphones and a re-mastered copy of “Dark Side of the Moon” and tell them to lie back in a dark room and give it a listen.

  3. Ran into this, had to throw in my 2 cents. Here’s my 10 (at this moment):

    1. One of these days

    … for some reason, this track is just clicking on all cylinders lately. Both the meddle and pompeii versions. Not a heck of a lot to it, but an absolute masterpiece. Very intense, and everything is perfectly timed. Want to listen very loud on repeat, bobbing my head.

    2. Dogs
    3. Speak to me / Breathe
    4. Echoes
    5. Astronomy Domine
    6. Us and them
    7. Point me at the sky
    8. Arnold Layne
    9. Run like hell
    10. One of my turns

    Having grown up on floyd (parents listened to them) I’ve realized they’re one of those bands where you gravitate to different stuff over time. It’s really weird. For example, Animals is an album I dismissed until I was old enough to appreciate the intricate composition and high production value. These days it’s probably the album I listen to most.

    That said, in my humble opinion, Dark Side ranks as “the perfect rock album”, not because of any one track, but for the entire mosaic. Timeless genius.

  4. Dave Doolin November 5, 2011 @ 7:16 pm

    “Echoes” is my all time favorite. I probably first listened to it in 74, on vinyl. Meddle is my favorite alblum, probably followed by Ummagumma.

  5. Top 10 Favorite Floyd Albums:

    1. Atom Heart Mother
    2. Zabriskie Point Session
    3. Animals
    4. Obscured by Clouds
    5. Dark Side of the Moon
    6. Meddle
    7. Wish you Were Here
    8. More OTC
    9. The Division Bell
    10. Ummagumma
  6. My fav songs, not the best but the ones I’m addicted to:

    1. Echoes
    2. Matilda Mother
    3. Flaming
    4. Arnold Layne
    5. Corporal Clegg
    6. Let There Be More Light
    7. Dogs
    8. Astronomy Domine
    9. The Trial ( first time I listened to it, it blowed my mind)
    10. The Narrow Way

    And from the more well known Shine On you Crazy Diamond gives me the chills xD

  7. What about Breakthrough?

  8. Jeff Starr

    Hmmmm… I’ll have to re-listen and see what’s there..

  9. Best Pink Floyd Albums January 12, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

    Awesome list! I adore Pink Floyd, my Best Pink Floyd Albums are:

    1. Dark Side of the Moon
    2. Meddle
    3. Animals
    4. Piper at the Gates of Dawn
    5. Wish You were Here
  10. Top 10 (standalone) Floyd January 26, 2012 @ 8:23 pm

    Things seem to work out great with Roger and David fighting; what it brings out of these two is equal parts self actualization and pure shining out of spite for each other. In all my years of listening I have never heard a more…perfect combination of subtlety and gore! Where Dave pours softness over your ears, Roger drives a hammer into your skull, I feel, and quite like it that way. Balance is key; take out one integral element and the balance is lost. Having said that, I can and do enjoy the Waterless era and Dave’s solo ventures, as well as Roger’s own Fliudless career. But nothing outside of Pink Floyd as men of four makes my list. Here’s how David put it himself: “Every one of the four of us is kind of a vital part of the mix, and…you’re *deluding* yourself if you think anything other than that.” So…food for thought for all those Roger Waters zealots and David Gilmour fanboys out there; may your wandering souls find peace… What I mean to say is: STFU about who ‘makes’ Pink Floyd! Stop deluding yourself. The way I feel about the Syd era is…it’s just a different Floyd altogether, so I’m not going to be adding songs from all the way back then either. On with the list.

    10. WELCOME TO THE MACHINE
    Easily the best one on WYWH, the lyrics claw at your psyche while the…I’d call it *creepy*…acoustic guitar/synth sonic amalgamation seeps in. Especially powerful is the second synth solo. Can’t go wrong with Wright playing. In all honesty, though, I wasn’t sure if number 10 should be for WTTM or The Trial. However, as awesome as The Trial is, and I have to say it still blows my mind and gives me chills whenever I listen to it…but! As awesome as it is, it just works better in the context of The Wall and doesn’t do as well as The Machine as a standalone track.

    09. BRAIN DAMAGE + ECLIPSE
    I feel this best captures what DSOTM had to say for itself. It communicates the whole idea of the album well enough on its own. Roger shines all the way.

    08. HEY YOU
    Chilltastic. Not in the sense that it makes me chill. In the sense that it gives me chills to the point I feel fantastic and the worms eat into my brain. David and Roger shine together. But, it is only fantasy of course.

    07. FEARLESS
    This song is in a realm of its own.

    06. COMFORTABLY NUMB
    Much like Brain Damage, I feel Comfortably Numb best captures what The Wall had to say for Pink. Floyd says the rest. Again, two Titans clash and give birth to Harmony. How the hell does that happen? On a more serious note…too commercial? Really? Really?? Re-okay, look: that hook, that solo, that *song*–no media overplay or level of mainstream popularity can take the genius out of that. There.

    05. ONE OF THESE DAYS
    One of these days I’m going to cut you into little pieces. With my favorite axe!
    And with a beat as intact, your head is what lacks!

    04. THREE DIFFERENT PIGS
    Shit is serious. Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. Precisely! And Floyd know better than to cast their pearls before swine. Better yet, they literally make swine into pearls with this song!

    03. SHEEP
    Shit is serious, again. Especially since there’s karate involved. And for a (black) sheep to master the art of karate…I don’t even want to think about it. I mean, can you imagine…all that martial art prowess, and all that ignorance…combined. No wonder them pigs got them dogs to watch their back! Speaking of dogs…

    02. DOGS
    As you can probably tell by now, Animals is my favorite Pink Floyd album. Simple and complex, metaphorical and straightforward. Dogs alone eviscerates whole musical careers. It sure eviscerates me every single fucking time I listen to it. Over and over and over again. I mean, you have *got* to be crazy not to orgasm over this.

    01. ECHOES
    Well…this is it. What can I say, Echoes just wins over all of them, by a large margin…as far as I’m concerned, at least. It does it for me every time. It sweeps the whole place clean. I can do *any* activity while listening to this and the music always acts as a stimulant–I can sleep, work out, zone out, or do all three at once, with the same ease, under the sounds of Echoes. I can travel back and forth in time. I can be Tom Cruise and I can eat…planets. It is the singlemost Floyd song to me. This is the definition of Floyd sound. There is no Roger or David, neither outshines the other. Here, Floyd shines on.

    And there you have it. Thanks for reading and I hope you have enjoyed my little list of the 10 best Pink Floyd (standalone) songs.

    Cheers

  11. Atom Heart Mother!

  12. Wow, nobody has “Any colour you like” on their list?! i love it, no lyrics, just the instrumentals to enter your soul.

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