Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

To me, this is the greatest song ever written. And I can’t even listen to it.

“Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd. The album itself by the same name, just like the song, is my favorite album/song of all-time. But you read the above correctly. I can’t listen to it. I don’t give a shit if this song was intended to be about Syd Barrett. It takes on a whole new meaning to me. One that hurts the hell out of me with absolute pain.

This song reminds me of the years 2008 and 2009, the two best years of my life (so far).

It’s a relentlessly sad track that hits you at about 16 seconds in, when David Gilmour performs the intro on a 12-string guitar, processed to sound like it was playing through an old transistor radio, and then overdubbed a fuller-sounding acoustic guitar solo. The passage was mixed to sound as though the guitarist was sitting in a room, playing along with the radio.

The intro riff is repeated several times. 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, to me, gives off a vibe of absolute finality and closure. There will be no going back to what was. For me, it’s like I feel there’s no going back to 2008 and 2009, no matter how great those years were, but I do wish that time period was still here and that things were still the same

The lyrics encompass Roger Waters’ feelings of alienation from other people. Like most of the album, it also refers to former Pink Floyd member Syd Barrett and his mental illness-related breakdown. Both Gilmour and Waters collaborated to complete the song.

To me, though, it’s a personal song. It’s a song about learning to move on… holding someone close in your heart and growing as a person. Life is a road; it has its ups and downs and is very loud. When you love someone, the ride stops for a moment, and the time you are together is never forgotten.

Wish You Were Here reminds me of the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 — 2008 and 2009 were the greatest years of my life (again, so far).

No auto-tuning or flashy, computerized beats. Just real, raw, pure music derived from emotion and passion, something you can’t get from today’s lackluster, talent-deprived mainstream music.

Can you tell Heaven from Hell? Can you tell what will work out well from a nightmare? Blue skies from pain? Something “good” from something “bad”?

What this song says to me is that you can never tell, at least about your own life what is good and what is bad. Look at all of history… the life story of every great artist or the history of every war. Things that seem great one second are just pain the next, and possibly more importantly, things that seem great now can be the undoing of everything.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions and often the road to enlightenment is paved with painful mistakes and lessons.

The song grinds this message home, then expresses loss in the titular line.

That loss seems to be for someone but is equally for all the missed opportunities and chances. It is the loss of all the lives that could have been. All the dreams left unfulfilled. The chances not taken. Because we could not tell heaven from hell, blue skies from pain. Because we could not see beyond the end of our [temporal] noses.

The final segment of the song makes it all the more personal. A relationship that is not working. Two people, neither grasping their dreams… both plodding along in the same routines. Day after day, in the same old way, they bang their heads against the same barriers, never breaking through… never quite telling that today’s blue skies are eternity’s pain… never quite getting to the point where they have to break free or break down.

Just a pair of lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year… running over the same old ground, wondering what they’ve found.

Wish you were here…


Two people’s hearts may be attached but their minds may not agree. External barriers may be set between them, perhaps indelible. Letting go, feeling the loss, bludgeoned by despair and entrenched by said loss. There’s birth and death in everyday life. When you wake up, the death of sleep but the birth of a new day. The end of an amazing relationship? A new beginning to learn from the said relationship, and a chance to grow and prosper as an individual.

My favorite part of the song is the beginning… the rhythm is uncanny. Just the first, small riff hits me like a ton of bricks every time I listen to it. The hair on my arms stand up.

Maybe it all flew over my head. Ho hum. Welcome to the machine.


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