Pink Floyd, without a doubt is one of the most popular rock bands of all time, but even beyond the staggering appeal, they also happen to be one of the best bands to ever release nusic into the world. Among rock types they are easily up there with the greats, and because of this making a top ten PF songs can be tricky. Mostly it’s to each their own, but I tried to pick songs that were both well known and pushed the boundaries, but also some not so obvious choices. Either way, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy!
10. Echoes, Meddle
We open our Top Ten Pink Floyd songs with one of their musical milestones, a song that epically bridges the gap between the super experimental nature of their early albums with Barrett at the helm and the band they would become. Now, this song is so damn long that it’s literally the second half of the record. I had this on vinyl so believe me when I say it’s pretty incredible to listen to. This record for me falls somewhere in the middle of my favorite Floyd albums, but this song is a landmark for them. It’s wide ranging musical ideas are executed brilliantly, and makes it well worth the twenty-three and a half minutes you spend absorbing it.
9. Nobody Home, the Wall
In the past I’ve made no secret of my deep deep love for this absolutely perfect record, so expect quite a few songs off what I think is the band's best work. “Nobody Home” finds us at a desperate time for the character Pink. He’s hit the wall, and can’t decide where or what to do with his life. The song is orchestrally textured and Waters’ voice brims with resentment and anger, but the undertone of feelings here is one of missed chances. You can sense the character wants to get better, for he doesn’t enjoy being this way, but he doesn’t quite know how to break through his own “Wall.” It’s an incredibly sad song that meets us at a critical point in the record, but that’s what makes it all the more worthwhile.
8. Us and Them, Dark Side of the Moon
Ok we get it, literally everyone who's ever experimented with mind altering substances has likely listened to this record. The influence it has on music is nearly incalculable, and while it’s not my number one Floyd record, it’s easily the best known thing the band ever did. “Us and Them” winds slowly down a gorgeous sunset road, and the gently used horns and percussion by Nick Mason only add to the ethereal nature of the track. Gilmour’s voice work here is also outstanding, and the range he showcases in the more uplifting sections is probably my favorite thing about the whole track. Also let’s not forget this is the period where the band hit their brilliant stride of nearly four perfect records, starting with “Dark Side,” and ending with “The Wall.”
7. Sheep, Animals
I briefly mentioned the band's four seemingly perfect albums in the row in our number eight choice. This record happens to come third in that period, and while “Animals” isn’t their most well known album, it’s still damn fine musically. “Sheep,” our number seven best Pink Floyd song, is one of the reasons this album kicks so much ass. The song starts slowly but by the minute and a half mark the band is jamming, hard, and hitting all cylinders with psychedelic haze and precision that’s still ahead of its time. Inspired clearly by Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” the album provides criticism of the British government that was much needed at the time, and although the whole record is a great listen, “Sheep,” in all of its soaring ten minutes and twenty seconds is the best most pulverizing track the band has on the album.
6. the Trial, the Wall
This one might surprise some people, but it’s always been one of my favorite of all time, standing among the band's best. What the operatic, judgemental nature the song's instrumentation is geared to isn’t completely in line with the other narrative styles prevalent on “The Wall,” but it plays to the center character, and his frail mind trying to break free, all the while being told he shouldn’t have normal human emotions. The juxtaposition of the classical vibe of “The Trial,” mixed with the over the top rock and roll moments of the record do a great job of keeping things fresh and unique, even as we stumble towards the inevitable conclusion of “The Wall” being dismantled and taken around.
5. Run Like Hell, the Wall
There might not be a better song whose title perfectly matches the intensity and themes of the actual song. “Run Like Hell” is a quick natured, thumping song that shows itself to us near the end of “the Wall,” and for me it’s one of their best straight forward rock songs, even though it has elements like the keyboards that might not have been considered rock tools at the time. Waters’ strained voice echoes the urgency of the song, but that’s only one part of why the song plays so well. Even though the band was in a considerable amount of turmoil at the time, they all play to the best of their abilities here, and that’s what makes the song such a fun, immediate jam to experience.
4. Comfortable Numb, the Wall
It was honestly difficult to figure out if such an obvious choice should make the top ten Pink Floyd songs, but in the end it was the songs perfectly harmonized qualities that got it to the number four spot. The song is a clear classic, and likely the band’s best known song, but there’s more to it’s brilliance than that. The guitar playing by Gilmour shines through above all else, and the back and forth vocals from he and Waters make the song what it is best known for. Gilmours voice is able to soar and shoot into the beauty of the stars, while Waters’ somewhat dirty and distant voice makes the juxtaposition even more awesome to experience. The song will forever be known among music fans, and everything that happens in the course of the track, from the scorching guitars, the drums and the vocals are clear reasons why it’s still an extremely popular song.
3. Time, Dark Side of the Moon
This album at this point is somewhat synonymous with “The Wizard of Oz,” and if you’ve had said experiments like the ones we mentioned earlier, you’ve likely watched the movie with this record as the back track. While it doesn’t always sync up perfectly, one of their best moments is without a doubt the “Time” portion of the film. The opening sees the Witch come and take the dog from Dorothy’s home, and it’s done to brilliant effect. The song however, is an outright perfect track. The drums leading up to the explosion of sound is well placed, and the balance of vocals between Gilmour and Richard Wright are done so seamlessly you find yourself not caring who's’ singing. Wright’s voice especially speaks to you from a glowing distantly perfect setting, and for me there's no better quality in this song than that. You don’t get to hear him sing too often, so for me it’s really excited to experience that. The guitar solo through the middle of the track is incredible and manages to lift the song even higher as it makes its way to the soaring vocals that bring the song to it’s ultimate climax.
2. Wish You Were Here, Wish You Were Here
Maybe the most depressing song the band ever created, “Wish you Were Here” lands at number two on the Pink Floyd Top Ten. Pink Floyd’s dedicated track to the one and only Syd Barrett. The story I’ve heard is that Barrett showed up at the studio, hardly recognizable, and his manic, drug induced state so devastated the band, and especially Roger Waters, that this song was written as a kind of living eulogy for the once brilliant man. Listening to the song(and the whole record for that matter), you can feel the sense of lost and hurt the band felt during this period. The guitar is gentle and quiet, and the vocals provide the needed hurt to bring out the pure soul of the song. It’s one of the most well known and beautiful songs of our time, and it absolutely deserves to be. Waters voice trembles through grief and you get a very real sense of loss. It’s one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, and it still manages to get me to belt out the painfully honest lyrics.
1. Shine On You Crazy Diamond(Parts I-V), Wish You Were Here
Quite simply, there isn’t a more awesome Pink Floyd song in existence. The scope of both track and the album are well known by this point. Syd Barrett, creator of the band in the first place, falls off the earth and struggles for decades in drug use and mental breakdowns. This song isn’t only about his descent and his much needed departure from the band, but it most certainly showcases how the band felt about their one time leader. The song is technically two parts of one giant song, but for the purpose of this list we’ll be focusing on the first half, which opens the album. The song, while a monument to Syd, also has one of the best musical sections in the band's entire history. The use of synthesizers to propel imagery and how it interlocks with the guitars is classic Floyd, and while the usage of vocals is minimal, the lyrics they do use are profoundly powerful and thought provoking. The second verse especially is powerful. The way Waters’ voice builds up when he sings “Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,” makes you yearn for easier times and a friendship that was once plentiful. There are most certainly people in this world who inhabit their own weird space, and who through everything still remain important to your individual story. For Floyd the band I think, that person was Barrett. Thanks for reading.
Landon Murray is a published writer and an avid lover of music, books and films. He's also a lover of the New Orleans Saints. He was born in 1982 and has a chainsaw tattoo on his arm.
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