With Pink Floyd set to release the “Immersion” and “Experience” editions of Wish You Were Here next week (Nov. 8), [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]David Gilmour[/lastfm] sat down in September with Paul Rappaport of Classics Du Jour to talk about the album and its creation. He went on to explain some of the record’s most striking details, and even played a bit of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” on his guitar.
Gilmour reveals in the interview with Rappaport (which took place aboard Gilmour’s houseboat/recording studio) that the band created ‘Shine On,’ the two-part epic that opens and closes the album, at the same time as “Dogs” and “Sheep,” both of which ended up on their 1977 follow-up Animals.
He said that the songwriting process began in a “little hole” in Calcutta, with little to no idea of what to do or how to do it, and that uncertainty helped shape Wish You Were Here and its overall sound and themes.
“That sort of blindly wondering about what the [expletive] we were doing was what helped to create what came,” he says in the interview.
In the middle of the interview, Rappaport asks Gilmour to play “those four magical notes” from “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” on his guitar, and he obliges. Somehow, that unmistakable four-note riff just sounds so much more powerful coming from Gilmour’s fingers.
He went on to talk about the album’s overarching themes of absence, which explains some of Storm Thorgerson’s surreal artwork.
More of the artist’s work is featured along with A Foot in the Door: The Best of Pink Floyd, another part of the massive Why Pink Floyd? reissue project intended to introduce new fans to the band’s catalog.
He describes in detail one of the album’s most distinctive moments: at the beginning of the title track “Wish You Were Here,” it sounds as if the song’s central riff is playing on a small radio. That was indeed what the band intended, while Gilmour’s acoustic solo replicates someone listening and playing along.
“It wasn’t supposed to be too slick, and it wasn’t,” he said.
The 5-disc “Immersion” edition of Wish You Were Here includes previously unreleased live performances from Wembley Stadium in 1974, including a 20-minute live version of ‘Shine On,’ plus photo and art booklets by the band’s longtime photographer and visual artist. The “Experience” edition contains the same art booklet, plus the digitally remastered original album.
Watch the entire interview, plus a little bonus guitar playing, in the video below.
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Read more about the Immersion and Experience editions of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, due out on November 8