her right. Gilmour’s vocals come in at 1:34, groan-like and rough as he sings “So, so you think you can tell heaven from hell”. The car radio simultaneously fades out as his voice begins, leaving the clear and loud guitar alone. Faint notes on Gilmour’s pedal steel guitar can be heard behind his vocals, almost replicating soft cries. Mason’s drums come in at 2:02, leading the entire band with a strong downbeat at 2:04 sounding on both channels. Throughout the first verse, Wright’s piano plays on the left channel and the guitar solos sound on the right channel. At this point, the listener feels enveloped in the song, the band members surround him or her. At 2:38, the band ceases and the guitar riff repeats, coming from the right. A clearer guitar solo sounds at 2:40 and the band continues. For the next 35 seconds, the solo climbs and wanders, playing through both the left and the right. At 3:15, the chorus begins and there is suddenly more
power behind the downbeats. Gilmour croons “How I wish, how I wish you were here / We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl year after year” and the pain is as apparent as ever in his voice. The vocals and the band are driving the track forward as the song comes to a passionate climax. At 3:45, the band settles and returns to the guitar riff, floating and drifting calmly after the storm of the chorus. At 4:21, Gilmour’s scatting begins, his voice almost mistakable for a guitar. His vocals come through stronger on the right channel, returning to the feeling of standing next to a musician who is playing along with the radio. At 4:47, the wind sound effects gently begin to fade into the song and at 4:55, his vocal ad-libs have stopped. The guitar riff continues to dim and fade out until it cannot be heard at 5:30 and the gusty sound effect overpowers the track. The wind grows louder and more angry until the song ends at 5:34. The phenomenology of “Wish You Were Here” truly creates an environment for the listener. Ironically and likely purposefully, the song is about absence and isolation and distance, but the space the instrumentation creates makes the listener feel like he or she is in the company of the musicians. One can’t help but feel they are sitting in a car with a guitarist and listening to the radio when they experience this song. The song creates a presence out of absence.
- Spring '16
- Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Syd Barrett