The Wall was my Pink Floyd debut, and I loved it; dark, disturbing, intense and beautiful in equal measures, albeit a bit of a slog. More Floyd had to come, and it was probably Wish You Were Here before Dark Side Of The Moon simply due to what was in the racks at Snu-Peas on a particular day. The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was also imminent too, but that’s a whole different kettle of far-out fish. Now, there are albums that simply have to be listened to in their entirety to be fully appreciated, with headphones on, eyes closed and mind open. Wish You Were Here is a perfect example.
With Syd Barrett seemingly ever present, the album is heavy with emotion. The effect of repeat listening was intense. The deeper you sank into its expanse, the more impelling and sensorial it become. Like a drug, and with this one the more the better. It demanded discovery. Scathing of the music industry that chewed and spat out Syd Barrett, it’s Wish You Were Here and Shine On You Crazy Diamond that cut the deepest; pure musical paradise with Gilmour’s guitar crying above a myriad of vocal and textural layers. Absolute heaven.
Well into my teens I had a dislike of synths in music, the blame for which sits squarely on the shoulders of the new romantics. As a youngster I needed music that hit me emotionally. I needed REAL music; nothing fake, I felt and needed passion and sincerity and so the synth pop bands of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s earned my blanket disapproval. It’s okay to be musically naïve through your teens, and thankfully over the years my mind and senses opened, and listening to Wish You Were Here was a huge part of that realisation. How could I dislike synths when they could be used so beautifully, creatively and yes, emotionally?
Wish You Were Here is a gut-wrenching homage to Syd Barrett. It’s four men pouring their hearts out. It’s deeply evocative, soulful and Pink Floyd’s second best album. Dark Side Of The Moon was next for me and would just nudge this from the Floyd’s musical summit. Just. It took me to be 20 years old to be able to put on my big boy trousers and love and obsess over an album heavy on electronics. That said, it’s Gilmour’s guitars and the impassioned vocals and sentiment that make Wish You Were Here a work of absolute genius.