Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts I–V

Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts I–V  13:32

Part I 3:54 (0:00)
     (written by Wright, Waters, Gilmour)

Part I essentially serves as a prelude to Part II. The beautiful orchestra-like keyboards are highlighted by a synth horn, and Dave's guitar coming in at 2.12.

Part II 2:34 (3:55)
     (written by Gilmour, Waters, Wright)

Part II contains the four note riff known to the band as 'Syd's Theme.'

Part III 2:14 (6:28)
     (written by Waters, Gilmour, Wright)

Rick takes a synth horn solo in Part III, a slow Gminor blues 12-bar.

Part IV 2:28 (8:42)
     (written by Gilmour, Wright, Waters)

Remember when you were young
You shone like the sun
Shine on, you crazy diamond
Now there's a look in your eyes
Like black holes in the sky
Shine on, you crazy diamond
You were caught in the crossfire
Of childhood and stardom
Blown on the steel breeze
Come on, you target for far away laughter
Come on, you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!

You reached for the secret too soon
You cried for the moon
Shine on, you crazy diamond
Threatened by shadows at night
And exposed in the light
Shine on, you crazy diamond
Well, you wore out your welcome
With random precision
Rode on the steel breeze
Come on, you raver, you seer of visions
Come on, you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!

Lead vocals: Roger Waters
Backing vocals: Dave Gilmour and Rick Wright

Part V 2:22 (11:10)
     (written by Roger Waters)

Dick Parry's sax solo.

The first time listed is the total length of the section, the parenthesized time is the location on the CD timer of the start of the section. The overlap between sections is sometimes quite substantial, leading to an aggregate time that exceeds the total track time.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond, like Echoes on Meddle and the Atom Heart Mother Suite on Atom Heart Mother, was an extended composition that served as the centerpiece of the album (and at 26.01, it is the longest recorded Floyd composition). Therefore, the quotes concerning the recording of the album sometimes overlap with the quotes concerning this individual song, the first to be recorded for the album. See the album Overview of Wish You Were Here for more information on how the whole album developed.

Roger Waters: "We did some rehearsals in a rehearsal studio in Kings Cross, and started playing together and writing in the way we'd written a lot of things before. In the same way that Echoes was written. Shine On You Crazy Diamond was written in exactly the same way, with odd little musical ideas coming out of various people. The first one, the main phrase, came from Dave, the first loud guitar phrase you can hear on the album was the starting point and we worked from there until we had the various parts of Shine On finished."
Interviewer: "Shine On was originally a song concerning Barrett's plight, wasn't it?"
Roger: "Yes."
Interviewer: "Do the other songs also fit in with that?"
Roger: "It was very strange. The lyrics were written — and the lyrics are the bit of the song about Syd, the rest of it could be about anything — I don't know why I started writing those lyrics about Syd. I think because that phrase of Dave's was an extremely mournful kind of sound and it just... I haven't a clue... but it was a long time before the Wish You Were Here recording sessions when Syd's state could be seen as being symbolic of the general state of the group, i.e. very fragmented." [Shine On]

Roger Waters: "I wanted [the lyrics] to get as close as possible to what I felt... that sort of indefinable, inevitable melancholy about the disappearance of Syd. Because he's left, withdrawn so far away that, as far as we're concerned, he's no longer there." [Schaffner 198] "Shine On You Crazy Diamond was right on the edge of my range. I was feeling very insecure about singing." [Miles] "[The Shine On lead vocal was] incredibly difficult and fantastically boring to record, because I had to do it line by line, over and over again, just to get it even sounding reasonable." [Schaffner 201]

Dave Gilmour talked about the problems encountered in the recording of the track: "We originally did the backing track over the course of several days, but we came to the conclusion that it just wasn't good enough. So we did it again in one day flat and got it a lot better. Unfortunately nobody understood the desk properly and when we played it back we found that someone had switched the echo returns from monitors to tracks one and two. That affected the tom-toms and guitars and keyboard which were playing along at the time. There was no way of saving it, so we just had to do it yet again." [Miles]

Roger: "[I thought] the very drawn-out nature of the overture bits that go on and on and on and on [diluted the impact of the lyrics]. I think we made a basic error in not arranging it in a different way so that some of the ideas were expounded lyrically before they were developed musically." [Schaffner 199]

Storm Thorgerson: "The atmospheric thing seems to me what the Floyd did better than anybody else. I'm not just saying that 'cause I worked with them; I actually do think that they are masters of evoking a mood in an auditorium with about two notes. The beginning of Shine On is only about two notes and it just works a treat. It is very moody and atmospheric, and it has this sense of wide-open spaces of the inner mind, or of some unknown terrain. Most of my pictures reflect that." [Schaffner 204]

Rick Wright: "Did you realize that Shine On You Crazy Diamond is about Syd? We don't see much of him now since he left and we're definitely a different band since his day. Thank God we're not the same. I know that it's very fashionable to like Syd these days, but I think we have improved immensely since he left, especially live. He was a brilliant songwriter and he was fantastic on Piper but he was in the wrong state to play any music. I am all for people trying to keep his name going but – he hasn't written anything in years. His two solo albums show the way he was going. The first album was better than the second and since then no one has been able to get him into a studio." [Miles]

Astute readers will note that every other first letter of the title of the song spells Syd's name: SOYCD.

In many ways, it is important to establish why this tribute to 'the crazy diamond' appeared seven long years after its inspiration left the band which he had named. By all accounts, Roger Waters was an intensely ambitious young man who was determined to become successful with the band which he devoted all his time and energy to, regardless of whether that meant getting rid of the originator of the band's music, or working four gigs a week, every week. It is up to the individual to decide whether this characteristic is singularly admirable or a reason for condemnation.

All people involved admit that Roger became the de facto leader of Pink Floyd after Syd left, and spurred it onward to its later success (helped in no small measure by the professionality and musicality Dave Gilmour brought to the band). At any rate, the success which was sought by him was not achieved until the release of Dark Side of the Moon in 1973. At this point came the first opportunity after relentless touring and recording to relax and take stock. Up until then, the powerful drive which had propelled Roger and Pink Floyd to superstardom was a very distracting factor emotionally. However, after achieving the success that he had dreamed of, Roger realized that it didn't make "a blind bit of difference" to how he felt about anything — and at that point, he seemed to have realized at what price success had been bought, and the grief over the tragedy of Syd came welling up and pouring out in the form of lyrics to the piece, and even as tears when Syd happened to show up at the mixing sessions of the song dedicated to him. Bearing no resemblance to the Syd they had once known, the now corpulent and shaven-headed legend seemed as removed from his surroundings as ever, and certainly representative of the figurative theme of absence that pervaded the album. His appearance was unsettling to say the least, and in many cases heartbreaking to the band members, who were already feeling depressed and frustrated. Roger comments.

Roger Waters: "I think the world is a very, very sad fucking place. I find myself at the moment, backing away from it all. I'm very sad about Syd, I wasn't for years. For years I suppose he was a threat because of all that bollocks written about him and us. Of course he was very important and the band would never have fucking started without him because he was writing all the material. It couldn't have happened without him, but on the other hand it couldn't have gone on with him. He may or may not be important in rock 'n' roll anthology terms but he's certainly not nearly as important as people say in terms of Pink Floyd. So I think I was threatened by him. But when he came to the Wish You Were Here sessions — ironic in itself — to see this great, fat, bald, mad person, the first day he came I was in fucking tears. (see photo left of Syd when he walked into the studio that day) Shine On's not really about Syd — he's just a symbol for all the extremes of absence some people have to indulge in because it's the only way they can cope with how fucking sad it is — modern life, to withdraw completely. And I found that terribly sad. I think finally that may be one of the reasons why we get slagged off so much now. I think it's got a lot to do with the fact that the people who write for the papers don't want to know about it because they're making a living from rock 'n' roll. That guitar phrase of Dave's, the one that inspired the whole piece, is a very sad phrase. I think these are very mournful days. Things aren't getting better, they're getting worse and the seventies is a very baleful decade. God knows what the eighties will be like..." [Miles]

Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)
Welcome to the Machine
Have a Cigar
Wish You Were Here
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX)

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