Honor Roll
Who is the strongest, who is the best?
The Top Ten Pink Floyd songs
The Top Ten list for this Back to School issue is an Honor Roll, hereby established to recognize Pink Floyd songs that rank above all others as outstanding. These songs represent not only Pink Floyd's greatest accomplishments, but they are also some of greatest achievements in the history of Rock and Roll. These are the songs that propelled Pink Floyd to their lofty status as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame icons and have earned the band widespread acclaim and admiration. And although every semester brings about a new Honor Roll, these songs have withstood the test of time.
10. "Money" from The Dark Side of the Moon
Not every Pink Floyd fan's favorite song. But nonetheless, it belongs on this honor roll. This is truly the song that made Pink Floyd a household name. Along with that came some unfortunate repercussions, such as the "Pink Floyd Rulz Dooood!" at every concert yelling for the band to play this song. This was particularly so in Pink Floyd's heyday of the early- to mid-1970s. But that's exactly why "Money" belongs here: it marks the peak of the band's success. While most every fan, casual or not, is a bit tired of hearing "Money", it's still a great song with a great beat and stunning lead guitar. With the excesses stripped away, the rendition of "Money" at Live 8 was classic indeed.
9. "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" from The Wall
Similarly, "Brick 2" is another song that has been overplayed. But it was also Pink Floyd's biggest #1 U.S. single that hit the charts running and didn't let go. This was a time when Pink Floyd had a choke hold on the top of the Billboard charts, mostly because of "Brick 2". It literally became a universal anthem. Twenty seven years later, the words still ring true today: lousy teachers and terrible school systems can ruin a child.
8. "Interstellar Overdrive" from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
While Piper was mostly all Syd, "Interstellar Overdrive" was truly a group effort. It clearly has Syd's mixing influence all over it, but it also presents a total group prog jam. And this was 1967. While very influential for years to come in the prog rock genre, the song is also strangely unique. Barrett's frantic guitar, Waters' steady bass, Mason's pounding drums, and Wright's playful keyboards all set up Pink Floyd's first attempt at a large scale production. I for one am looking forward to the new remastered version.
7. "Learning To Fly" from A Momentary Lapse of Reason
Pink Floyd is back! Yes, but could they succeed without Roger Waters? Not only could they be successful, but they could once again own the top of the Billboard charts. No matter what one may think of the Waters-less Floyd, their success cannot be denied. In that respect, "Learning to Fly" is as important to the history of Pink Floyd as "Money" is.
6. "Arnold Layne"
The song that started it all. Despite gathering only moderate success on the charts, its brilliance is decisive and its impact in the music world has been huge. "Arnold Layne" not only invented the Syd Barrett mythos, but a whole generation of music. This was Syd's vision, and it created Pink Floyd. As such, it is one of the most important pieces of music ever created.
Cum Laude
"Wish You Were Here" from Wish You Were Here
"Young Lust" from The Wall
"Fearless" from Meddle
"Marooned" from The Division Bell
"Childhood's End" from Obscured by Clouds
"Time" from The Dark Side of the Moon
"Run Like Hell" from The Wall
5. "Point Me at the Sky"
Aimlessly looking for inspiration after the departure of Syd and the addition of David Gilmour, the band and the public wondered if Pink Floyd could succeed without their original leader. Though not the first song with Gilmour, it is the song where the band realized they'd be able to make it without Barrett. This song briefly shows the kind of magic the band would later produce. Though the band was now led by Waters, "Point Me at the Sky" showcased the contribution from David Gilmour that would later rocket them to stardom.
4. "Echoes" from Meddle
Though many consider Dark Side of the Moon to be the band's zenith, it was "Echoes" that gave the band their first taste of stardom. Taking up the whole album side, "Echoes" was a step in the natural progression from "Interstellar Overdrive" to "A Saucerful of Secrets" to "Atom Heart Mother" and later to Dark Side. It's hard to believe that Dark Side would have seen the light of day without "Echoes". With the progressive jamming, a heady concept, and the sheer complexity of the song, it's no wonder "Echoes" is regarded by many Floyd fans as the group's greatest moment.
3. "Dogs" from Animals
Its amazing how this epic progressive rock classic always ends up in the top ten. But there's a reason for it. It was said during the '70s that each new Pink Floyd album introduced the band to a new generation of fans. At a time when disco music and punk rock were all the rage, Pink Floyd stuck to their own formula and unleashed Animals on an entire new generation of classic rock/prog rock music lovers. I remember it well, January 1977 and Pink Floyd were once again Kings. While the public was hardly aware of the impending personal crisis within the Pink Floyd, "Dogs" showed the band once again at their musical, and lyrical, peak.
2. "Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)" from Wish You Were Here
Progressive musicianship at its highest level, "Shine On" was arguably Pink Floyd's greatest achievement. Coming on the heels of Dark Side, the band had felt that they had reached the top and there was no where else to go. And yet, they produced this epic track in memory of their long lost leader, Syd Barrett, with such musical and lyrical density. A centerpiece for all that is great about progressive rock.
1. "Comfortably Numb" from The Wall
The valedictorian of all Pink Floyd songs, this is the song that has come to be known as the Pink Floyd anthem. Pretty ironic, considering that many fans felt The Wall was very un-Pink Floyd like, and the album turned out to be the last great gasp from the Waters-era foursome. Yet "Comfortably Numb" is considered by many to be the greatest piece of music that foursome put to vinyl. The sinister doctor and the soaring lead guitar, the moment of shock when Gilmour appeared on top of The Wall during the 1980-81 concerts, and the final send off at Live 8 all prove that "Comfortably Numb" is indeed the song that belongs at the head of the class and at the top of the honor roll.
Dr. Cooney is a professor of Accounting & Law at William Paterson University, and is a staff writer for Spare Bricks.