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Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Pink Floyd Reunites

So, I don’t know if y’all noticed this in all the hubbub surrounding the July 4th Weekend and Venus Williams’ Triumph-like triumph at Wimbledon, but Pink Floyd reunited on Saturday for the Live 8 “Concert to Try to Guilt People into Ending Starvation”. It was an amazing thing to see, even if two MTV spares talked over the middle of the last and best song, “Comfortably Numb.” At least they shut up for the second guitar solo[1]. Seriously, in the middle of that song everything was going so well, and then they started doing what can only be described as yapping over it like hippie Chihuahuas. I haven’t wanted to slap somebody that much since the last time I saw Sally Jessy Raphael.

Anyway, they played four songs, chosen for maximum impact: Breathe (appropriate for this concert, and underrated), Money (almost a little too direct for the subject at hand – and it’s become almost a love-it-or-hate-it song for the masses, and the first song a Floyd hater will point to as evidence that they suck. Bad choice), Wish You Were Here (this song must be played at every Floyd concert – Roger even mentioned Syd Barrett for the millionth time[2]), and the aforementioned Comfortably Numb (did I mention this is the greatest song ever? It is). The whole thing took approx. 22 minutes to complete, and MTV cut out at about 18. I’m actually kinda surprised they stuck with it that long, since MTV’s target demo most likely didn’t recognize any of the songs, or even who those old guys were onstage. Maybe Landon from last year’s “Real World” could have stood in the background for the last song, drunkenly swaying and smiling with a knife behind his back and that stupid reverse Mohawk on his head. Maybe then MTV Music Television would have seen fit to broadcast all of the most important moment in music this year. MTV should rename itself “Young Adult Sex Pressure TV”, since that’s what they seem to be concentrating on most these days.

It’s hard to put into words how big this reunion was for me[3] – maybe that’s skewing my opinion of its importance a bit. You have to understand, Pink Floyd is one of my Top Five bands of all time. I’ve always been amazed by them and their atmospheric weird goodness, and it’s one of those things where if people don’t think about them the same way I do, I think there must be something wrong with them. How can you not like Pink Floyd? That’s like hating cheesecake or punching random babies at the hospital. It must be indicative of a larger a character flaw. The guitar solos, the crazy keyboards, the insane lyrics – what’s not to like?

What really happened last night is that bassist and lyricist Roger Waters rejoined the band after leaving in the mid-80’s because he hated the rest of the band and thought he was better than they were. 20 years of bitterness later, they reunited for this single purpose – to give debt relief to Africa. My theory is that they were ripe for a reunion (with a Nick Mason-penned History of Pink Floyd having come out that basically said that Nick and Roger had buried the hatchet), and were just looking for an excuse to play together again. Then the biggest concert in the world just happened to come along, and it happened to be based in their backyard. All they needed was for Roger and guitarist/singer Dave Gilmour (the real focal points of the feud) to agree to appear on the same stage. I suppose they’re both getting too old to hold on to stupid bitterness. Good for them. Good for us.

The first thing I noticed when they started playing was how old they looked. I saw the non-Waters incarnation of Floyd in 1994 in Madison, WI, and they looked and sounded old then. They are now middle aged. At least their music lends itself more to the “standing around and playing” type of concert than someone like the Rolling Stones, who are old and have to prance around on stage like they’re 20. They started things with “Breathe”, off their timeless 1973 album “Dark Side of the Moon”, which sold more than 35 million copies and spent like 15 straight years on the Billboard Top 100 Albums Chart[4]. Doesn’t that sound important? I feel like I have to defend Pink Floyd these days, with all this attention being paid to worse/less popular/less interesting bands and artists like the aforementioned Stones and The Who and Bob Dylan and The Smiths and Motley Crue. Floyd was the biggest band in the world from 1973-1982. That’s a whole decade, people. Learn to love them.

“Breathe” is just a fantastic song. Now I know why Dark Side sold so many records – once you’ve gotten stoned to “Breathe”, why would you ever want to get stoned to anything else? It sounds like it was recorded in between puffs. The song just floats. On stage, the songs floats a bit less (especially when the players are 60 years old), but still rocks. And that’s the thing – Pink Floyd came to prominence on album-rock stations playing alongside Led Zep and Styx. I never understood how the same people could like Alice Cooper and Pink Floyd, but they really did. Maybe it’s the guitar solos. The guitar solos gave them a bizarre 70’s version of street cred.

“Breathe” also worked well because it’s slow (as were the other three songs they played – even the rockin’ “Money” is deceptively slow and methodical, like Glenn Robinson). At their age, they were probably only able to play and sing things that took their sweet time. Roger Waters’ voice is shot, so Dave Gilmour had to do most of the singing. During all 4 songs, Roger was noticeably excited, and Dave was stoic and professional, as if he had been reuniting with Roger 5 days a week for the past year. I think that’s just the way he is at this age.

Like I said, Roger was really excited and animated during the whole thing. He sang all the words (including the parts that weren’t even his) into no microphone in particular. He seemed genuinely tickled to be playing these songs with the mates he created them with. I suppose that’s a great feeling. I don’t know, I don’t have mates.

They played “Money” after “Breathe”, and the less said about that song the better. Those Brits liked it, though. After that, they played “Wish You Were Here”, and Dave made my wife giggle by singing the guitar solo part along with his guitar. They finished with “Numb”, and everyone in the audience was content, like after a big meal[5]. After the song was over Roger called the other three over for an arms-around-each-other bow, and they all seemed really happy. I have no idea if Roger and Dave still hate each other, or if they plan on ever making another album. I don’t care about a tour (although you better believe I would show up with pigs on). I want to hear what new Pink Floyd music would sound like. Even if it sucks, it would be great. Does that make sense? Nobody else is daring to make this kind of music anymore[6], so it would stand out. It would be interesting. I’m sure record execs want this to happen, with record sales being as pathetic as they are. Will it happen? No. But we can always dream.

[1] And I actually saw the whole thing on AOL’s web site for free. Who would have guess that finally in 2005 AOL would actually have become good for something?

[2] The Floyd probably has a little lingering guilt over how they kicked Barrett out of the band, namely by just not picking him up on the way to a gig.

[3] To give you an idea of how hard it is, this is about the fourth time I’ve tried to compose this blog post since they played yesterday. I just can’t put the right words in the right order. Now I’m relying on my writing crutch – these footnotes – to get me through. I’m so sorry.

[4] Just so y’all know, that’s not hyperbole. It may even be underestimation, or underremembering.

[5] Maybe that was just me that was content. The people out there probably wanted more. Come to think of it, so did I. Aren’t you glad you read this footnote?

[6] I know, I know. It’s an overgeneralization. There are many Floyd-influenced bands out there, I just can’t think of them. Plus, the original is better.


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