Pink Floyd - Wish You Were

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here - Live (Pulse)

Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd song)

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"Wish You Were Here"
Song by Pink Floyd from the album Wish You Were Here
Published Pink Floyd Music Publishers Ltd
Released 12 September 1975
Recorded January – July 1975
Genre Progressive rock, acoustic rock
Length 5:40
6:14 (Alternative experience version)
Label Harvest, EMI (UK)
Columbia, Capitol (US)
Writer David Gilmour, Roger Waters
Producer Pink Floyd
Wish You Were Here track listing
Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd track listing
"Wish You Were Here EP"
Single by Pink Floyd
from the album Pulse
B-side "Coming Back to Life" (Live), "Keep Talking" (Live)
Released 20 July 1995
Format CD
Recorded 20 September (Rome); 13 and 20 October (Earls Court, London), 1994
Genre Progressive rock
Label Capitol (US)
Writer(s) Roger Waters, David Gilmour
Producer James Guthrie, David Gilmour
Certification Gold (FIMI)[1]
Pink Floyd singles chronology
"High Hopes"
Wish You Were Here EP

"Wish You Were Here" is the title track on Pink Floyd's 1975 album Wish You Were Here.[2][3] Its lyrics encompass Roger Waters' feelings of alienation from other people. Like most of the album, it refers to former Pink Floyd member Syd Barrett and his breakdown. David Gilmour and Waters collaborated to write the music.

In 2011, the song was ranked No. 324 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[4]



In the original album version, the song segues from "Have a Cigar" as if a radio had been tuned away from one station, through several others (including a radio play and one playing Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony), and finally to a new station where "Wish You Were Here" is beginning.[5] The radio was recorded from Gilmour's car radio. He performed the intro on a twelve-string guitar, processed to sound like it was playing through a car AM radio, and then overdubbed a fuller sounding acoustic guitar solo. This passage was mixed to sound as though the guitarist was sitting in a car, listening to the radio; it also contains a whine that slowly changes pitch—emulating the electro-magenetic interference from the engine of a car as it accelerates and decelerates.

The intro riff is repeated several times and reprised when Gilmour plays further solos with scat singing accompaniment. At the end of the recorded song, the final solo crossfades with wind sound effects (reminiscent of "One of These Days" from the 1971 album Meddle), and finally segues into the second section of the multi-part suite "Shine On You Crazy Diamond".

The song includes the line: "Can you tell a green field/From a cold steel rail?", which is a reference to Syd Barrett's solo song, "If It's In You", from The Madcap Laughs album ("Hold you tighter so close/Yes you are/Please hold on to the steel rail").

Live performances

"Wish You Were Here" made its stage debut on the band's 1977 tour, which featured a performance of the entire album at every show. It was not played live by the band for nearly ten years after this, yet became a concert staple after its reappearance in 1987, and was performed at nearly all subsequent Pink Floyd concerts. In the original 1977 concert performances, Gilmour would play his Fender Stratocaster instead of acoustic guitar, while Snowy White played a twelve-string Ovation acoustic guitar. At some of these shows (all of the US shows, notably), Nick Mason tuned an actual transistor radio on stage to a local radio station, seguing into the pre-recorded part from the album to start the song and Richard Wright would perform an extended piano coda as the wind effects played. A live version is included on Pulse. When Pink Floyd were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,[6] Gilmour and Wright (Mason was in the audience) performed the song with the assistance of their presenter Billy Corgan on rhythm guitar.

"Wish You Were here" was performed by Ed Sheeran with Mason on drums, Mike Rutherford of Genesis on guitar and Richard Jones of The Feeling on bass at the Closing Ceremony of 2012 Summer Olympics in London. A performer, dressed in a suit, tightrope-walked across the stadium and shook hands with a mannequin at the end, which then burst into flames, referencing the album's cover.

Other recorded versions by Pink Floyd

"Wish You Were Here" later appeared as the fifth track on A Collection of Great Dance Songs (with the radio intro following the end of a heavily edited "Shine On You Crazy Diamond") and as the 23rd track on the Echoes compilation (with the radio intro following "Arnold Layne", and at the end crossfading with "Jugband Blues").

A live recording included on the 1995 live album P•U•L•S•E was issued as a single/EP. The cover of the EP features two men whose faces are distorted by fish bowls, referring to the line "We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year". As of now, this is the last single released by Pink Floyd (although promos of "Echoes", "Young Lust" and "Money" (2003 edit for the 30th anniversary reissue of The Dark Side of the Moon) were made available to the press and radio stations).

In 2005, Waters and Eric Clapton performed the song at the Tsunami Aid concert, and in 2005's Live 8, Waters rejoined his former bandmates in London to perform it, along with three other classic Pink Floyd songs.[7][8]

As part of the Why Pink Floyd...? campaign, the Experience and Immersion versions of the Wish You Were Here album include an alternate version of the song which includes a violin part played by Stéphane Grappelli, which was not used on the album version, though a tiny bit of the violin part can be heard as the song fades out.


  • Stéphane Grappelli - violin (There is a brief piece of violin playing at the end of the track which was subsequently all but drowned out by the addition of the wind effects, although if you listen closely or turn the volume up louder, starting at the 5:21 mark, the barely-audible violin can be heard. Grappelli was recording in a downstairs studio, and Gilmour had suggested that there be a little "country fiddle" at the end of the song. Grappelli duly obliged, although because his contribution is barely audible, the band decided not to credit him for it in the sleeve notes. According to Waters, he received the agreed fee of £300, however.)[9]


Either the music comes first and the lyrics are added, or music and lyrics come together. Only once have the lyrics been written down first — 'Wish You Were Here'. But this is unusual; it hasn't happened before.

—Roger Waters, 1975[10]

When it sounds like it's coming out of a radio, it was done by equalisation. We just made a copy of the mix and ran it through eq. to make it very middly, knocking out all the bass and most of the high top so that it sounds radio-like. The interference was recorded on my car cassette radio and all we did was to put that track on top of the original track. It's all meant to sound like the first track getting sucked into a radio with one person sitting in the room playing guitar along with the radio.

—David Gilmour, 1975, WYWH Songbook

I wrote it around the time my grandmother died. She spent her last years at my mother's house, and when I visited, she would look at me with an anguished expression and go, 'Robert!' Robert was her husband, who had been dead for twenty years. It was very tortured and moving.

—Roger Waters, New York magazine, 9 November 2009, p. 21


Wyclef Jean version

"Wish You Were Here"
Single by Wyclef Jean
from the album The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book
B-side "No Woman, No Cry"
Released 3 December 2001
Format CD single, cassette
Recorded 2000
Genre Hip hop, progressive rock, acoustic
Length 4:06
Label Columbia
Writer(s) David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Jerry 'Wonder' Duplessis, Wyclef Jean
Producer Jerry 'Wonder' Duplessis, Wyclef Jean
Wyclef Jean singles chronology
"Perfect Gentleman"
"Wish You Were Here"
"Two Wrongs"

"Wish You Were Here" served as the fourth and final single from Wyclef Jean's second studio album, The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book. It was released in December 2001, peaking at #28 on the UK Singles Chart.[11]

UK CD Single (672156 2)
  1. "Wish You Were Here" (Radio edit) – 4:04
  2. "No Woman, No Cry" (Live version) – 4:33
  3. "911" (Live version) – 4:23
  4. "Wish You Were Here" (Video) – 4:25
UK Cassette (672156 5)
  1. "Wish You Were Here" (LP version) – 4:25
  2. "Perfect Gentleman" (Remix radio edit) – 3:59

Other covers

Electronic group Tangerine Dream recorded a cover on their CD Under Cover – Chapter One.

The joint venture of Los Coronas and Arizona Baby covered the song in their 2011 live album Dos Bandas y un Destino.[12]

Indie rock band The Antlers performed a version of the song in June of 2010 for The A.V. Club's A.V. Undercover series.[13]

British artist Ed Sheeran performed a cover of this song at the Closing Ceremonies of the London Olymic Games in 2012.


  1. ^ "Italian single certifications – Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here" (in Italian) (PDF). Federation of the Italian Music Industry. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
  2. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2004). The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate Books. p. 1177. ISBN 1-84195-551-5.
  3. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X.
  4. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time: Pink Floyd, 'Wish You Were Here'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2013-03-22.
  5. ^ The Absolute sound, Volume 18, Issues 87-90 p.113. Retrieved 9 September 2011
  6. ^ Pink Foyd, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1996.
  7. ^ Povey, Glenn. (2007) Echoes: the complete history of Pink Floyd Mind Head Publishing, Retrieved 9 September 2011
  8. ^ Pink Floyd Visionary Syd Barrett Dies At 60 Billboard 22 Jul 2006. p.46. Retrieved 9 September 2011
  9. ^ Blake, Mark (2008). "Riding the Gravy Train". Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Thunder's Mouth Press. p. 230. ISBN 978-1-56858-383-9. "Roy Harper wasn't the only special guest, or old friend to drop by the sessions. When it was discovered that classical violinists Yehudi Menuhin and Stéphane Grappelli were recording a duet at Abbey Road, [David] Gilmour suggested Grappelli come in and play a final violin coda to the song 'Wish You Were Here'. Grappelli haggled over his fee but finally settled at £300. In the end, his playing is virtually inaudible on the final mix. 'It was terrific fun, though,' recalled Gilmour. 'Avoiding his wandering hands.'"
  10. ^ October 1975 interview in Wish You Were Here songbook, retrieved 28 April 2006.
  11. ^ UK Singles — 1952–2011, UK/US Charts
  12. ^ Prunes, Mariano. "Dos Bandas y un Destino: El Concierto - Arizona Baby, Los Coronas : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  13. ^ "The Antlers cover Pink Floyd". Retrieved 19 March 2013.


Author:Bling King
Published:Mar 24th 2013
Modified:Mar 24th 2013

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