Song of the Day: Pink Floyd – Learning to Fly

Jordan Posner Recalls: In which Pink Floyd cuts overall spending by 25%.

The mid-late 80’s were undoubtedly a tough time for the guys in Pink Floyd. Roger Waters, the main creative force in the band, was in the process of departing for a solo career. David Gilmour was about to jump from writing a few songs here and there to writing ALL THE SONGS EVER. Nick Mason and Richard Wright were more or less okay, though Wright was hitting the horse pretty hard at this point. After 1983’s The Final Cut, Pink Floyd became a not-so-nice situation. Waters had essentially run the group since the days when Syd Barrett finally disappeared down the London Tube System. Under his reign, Pink Floyd had recorded Dark Side of the Moon/WIsh You Were Here/The Wall, which might be the greatest consecutive list of 3 albums in the history of rock music. There are probably other good examples, but it’s late, and this wine is going to go bad if I don’t drink it all.

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Needless to say (which may as well be a phrase meaning “As I am about to say…”) Pink Floyd was under a tremendous pressure from both their label and their hardcore fans to deliver a Waters-less assurance that everything would remain Kosher in Floydville.

The result was 1987’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason.

Was this the final nail in the coffin for people who didn’t think Gilmour was up to the task of replacing Waters?

Uh…kind of?

I suppose it’s better than Atom Heart Mother, for what that shit is worth.

No, honestly, Lapse is a collection of competent songs that suggest the perspective of a seasoned rock songwriter. Show some goddamn respect. Dude wrote “Comfortably Numb.”

Ultimately though, it fails to attain mind-blowing status.

But do me a favor, will you? Listen to “Learning to Fly,” which is the most famous song with that title not written by Tom Petty. The unorthodox percussion and soaring guitar line make a genuine argument for David Gilmour at the helm. While the band wouldn’t necessarily produce anything that would become a “classic” at this point in its existence, Pink Floyd is still capable of tapping into that progressive and challenging spirit that defined some of their most indelible work.


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