What are your favorite Pink Floyd songs?

pfPink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour saying recently that the band is kaput serves as somewhat of an official end to what was one of the world’s most beloved rock bands. Pink Floyd produced memorable music for decades and put on some of the best live productions the world has ever seen, and it’s safe to say they’ll be remembered for decades to come as new audiences continue to discover their music.

As was the case last week with The Beatles, I got to thinking about what my personal favorite Pink Floyd tunes are, at least at this moment (I’ve listened to the band for many years, and tastes change over time). So here’s a list… some of these are common favorites, while others are more out of left field.

21. Marooned

Sponsored link (story continues below)

I stretched my list to 21 just to fit this song on there. It feels like a solo Gilmour track more than anything than Floyd did post-Roger Waters, but it definitely stands as some of his best guitar work under the Pink Floyd name.

20. When the Tigers Broke Free

Roger Waters has a gift for putting the despair of war into song. It’s demonstrated brilliantly in this song, which was originally released on a 7-inch single as well as in the film version of The Wall, and included in later pressings of The Final Cut. The song is written about his father’s death in World War II.

It was dark all around
There was frost in the ground
When the tigers broke free
And no one survived
From the Royal Fusiliers Company Z
They were all left behind
Most of them dead
The rest of them dying
And that’s how the High Command
Took my daddy from me

19. The Gunner’s Dream

Another melancholy yet powerful war song from Waters off The Final Cut. The song is told from the perspective of an airman gunner as he falls through the sky to his death. Particularly powerful is the description of the gunner saying goodbye to his family:

Good-bye Max
Good-bye Ma
After the service, when you’re walking slowly to the car
And the silver in her hair shines in the cold November air
You hear the tolling bell
And touch the silk in your lapel
And as the tear drops rise to meet the comfort of the band
You take her frail hand
And hold on to the dream

18. Is There Anybody Out There?

One of my favorite guitar moments from Gilmour, it paints a perfectly bleak picture of Pink’s isolation after he shuts himself off behind his world. It’s simple, yet powerful.

17. Mother

It’s hard not to like Mother, the chapter of The Wall about Pink’s overprotective mom. It’s high on the favorites list of Wall tracks for many Pink Floyd fans.

16. Empty Spaces/What Shall We Do Now

The movie version of the song “Empty Spaces” from The Wall is superior to the album version in my mind since it tacks on “What Shall We Do Now” at the end. Not to mention it accompanies one of the movie’s more stunning animated sequences.

15. Goodbye Blue Sky

Another powerful anti-war song from Pink Floyd and again, one of the more striking moments of the movie.

14. Wish You Were Here

This song unfortunately falls into the category of being a song I’ve heard so many times that I grew kind of sick of it, but I think at one point or another it strikes a chord with anyone into Pink Floyd, and it certainly holds meaning for many people who aren’t that much into the band.

13. The Trial

I’ve grown to love this song over the years, even if the first thing I think of when hearing it is the walking rear-end judge in the movie. It’s a great climax to The Wall and adds a touch to it that makes it feel truly like a musical.

12. San Tropez

A far cry from some of the dark subject matter that Pink Floyd explores in other songs. It’s hard not to be caught up by this dandy beach song.

11. On the Turning Away

My favorite song of the post-Waters albums. To me, the appeal of the albums A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell have faded with time, but I still dig this song.

10. The Final Cut

The most depressing song on a sometimes relentlessly depressing album. Actually, there probably aren’t many more songs out there more depressing than this one. Can’t get much bigger of a downer than a song about depression and isolation that ends in a failed suicide attempt.

9. Bike

Bike is undeniably stupid, but it’s irresistibly, awesomely stupid. The first listen to this song will put you in a state of WTFery. A few listens later, you’ll be walking around singing it. Then you’ll introduce it to your friends to get them to do the same. Then a day will come when you’ll put this song on when you’re all shitfaced and be singing along with it. It’s always good for a good time.

8. One of These Days

A cool song on its own that really takes off when the band performed it live, where the song slowly built to the point where the explosions started and the pigs came out. The video below shows the song performed indoors, but I was fortunate enough to see the band perform outdoors, where they went heavier on the fireworks.

7. Us & Them

The most soothing track on The Dark Side of the Moon and a nice meditation on human conflict. A great late night song too.

6. The Great Gig In the Sky

I’ve always found this song powerful, especially when taken in the right context. The songs on the The Dark Side of the Moon thematically explore elements of life, and “Great Gig” is the one about death. The vocals by Clare Torry and the accompanying music by Richard Wright capture the haunting thought of death well. It’s also inspired some great cover versions, such as the one below.

5. Brain Damage/Eclipse

The perfect ending to Dark Side. A particularly awesome use of this was when “Eclipse” accompanied the opening of the 2012 Olympic Games in London:

4. Echoes

I picked “Echoes” a while back as a Rocknuts Song of the Day. It’s a great example of the Pink Floyd experience, although I confess to skipping through the whale noises when I listen to it.

3. Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Floyd’s haunting tribute to former lead singer Syd Barrett is a powerful, timeless composition. It was one of the first Pink Floyd songs I remember hearing, and it’ll always be near the top of the list.

2. Comfortably Numb

Of course. How can it not be high on the list? It’s the best moment on The Wall and easily one of the band’s greatest songs. And it gave us one of the greatest guitar solos of all-time, especially the live version that sends chills down the spine:

1. Time

“Time” is just awesome. Sonically, musically, lyrically, thematically — everything’s a home run. The guitar solo is one of the all-time greats. And the lyrics pretty much sing to anyone:

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

It’s a close call over Comfortably Numb, but for me, “Time” is Pink Floyd’s best moment.

What are your favorites? Weigh in below in the comments section, or discuss it on the Rocknuts Forums!

5 comments to “What are your favorite Pink Floyd songs?”
  1. So many eligible songs, and so few from pre-1970. The band got way better after Barrett passed guitar duty to Gilmour and songwriting duty to Waters.

    Syd Barrett is a fascinating person, but the Floyd that most of us love has very little to do with his persona.

    Learning to Fly is also a good post-Waters song.

    Their final true album, The Division Bell, isn’t that horrible either. There are like 5 or 6 really good tracks.

  2. You got me listening to some Pink Floyd in the car last night. I played Comfortably Numb for my wife and asked her what she thought. She’d never heard Pink Floyd before. Her answer? “It sounds old.” Lame!

  3. Totally agree with the comment from Jordan Posner. The group definitely found itself post-Barrett.

    I would also vote for “Fearless”, though it’s hard to argue with San Tropez.

  4. Pingback: What are your favorite songs by The Velvet Underground? | Rocknuts

  5. These were missing from the list:
    Obscured by clouds, Cluster one, Sorrow, Dogs, Have a cigar, High Hopes, Run like hell, Childhood’s End,Mudmen, Great gig

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *