The story of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" (video)

My friends Richard Metzger and Tara McGinley of Dangerous Minds re-sparked my interest in early Pink Floyd the other night, when I visited their home: they were playing a quadrophonic version of Wish You Were Here on their excellent quad-compliant speaker system, while some of the experimental films the band played during the tour for that album ran on a nearby monitor. It was a great night. Today, Richard shares word of "The Making of Wish You Were Here" (2012), a really cool documentary film about the making of that album, and that era in the band's evolution.

Snip from the film description:

Wish You Were Here , released in September 1975, was the follow up album to the globally successful The Dark Side Of The Moon and is cited by many fans, as well as band members Richard Wright and David Gilmour, as their favorite Pink Floyd album. On release it went straight to Number One in both the UK and the US and topped the charts in many other countries around the world. This program tells the story of the making of this landmark release through new interviews with Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Nick Mason and archive interviews with the late Richard Wright. Also featured are sleeve designer Storm Thorgerson, guest vocalist Roy Harper, front cover burning man Ronnie Rondell and others involved in the creation of the album. In addition, original recording engineer Brian Humphries revisits the master tapes at Abbey Road Studios to illustrate aspects of the songs construction.

Buy the film here.

Richard reviews the documentary here on Dangerous Minds. More Pink Floyd stuff on DM at this link.


    1. I was going to say the same thing. Interesting how their later albums are more thought of as “late” Floyd. WYWH is just Floyd.

      And what a frickin amazing video, thanks for posting.

    2. We were listening to material from a number of albums that night, and it sparked my interest in early Pink Floyd. I didn’t say WYWH qualified as “early.”

      “Mid” is probably accurate.

      I think the Wall represents the point of decline.

        1. Why is the assumption that whatever sells the best has the highest quality?  Is there any other variety of art where this argument is made with a straight face?  I’d say the fact that it’s 23x platinum is actually more evidence for their decline considering the quality of most multi-platinum records.

          1. @facebook-100000252750881:disqus You are the only person in this subthread to even mention popularity.

            Edit: You should interpret it however the hell you want while allowing for the fact that other people might have other interpretations. I actually think The Wall sucks and so I interpreted “decline” as “decline in quality”. As far as Xeni’s intent, I suspect it’s to avoid getting in a stupid argument like this one.

          2. Shall we argue semantics? How should I interpret Xeni’s statement about their “point of decline” if not in the context of popularity? It most likely wasn’t applied to the actual quality of the album, since arguably the material is quite stellar. Also, as I was not contradicted by Xeni, I will continue to assume that was the intent.

        2. Great Album but I remember at its height being so overplayed on the radio we all just got sick of it.
          The greatest payoff was telling my two year old daughter that if she did not eat her meat she would not get any pudding

        3. For avoidance of doubt: I do not agree that the Wall is the band’s best record just because it sold a ton of copies. Couldn’t reply further down in this thread because of Disqus’ threading limitations.

          What sells isn’t necessarily what is of the greatest quality.

          And like other commenters, I think I probably just hate it because it was so overplayed on radio during my teen years. It’s like hating a food you were force-fed as a child.

          But by no means should my musical preferences dictate what you enjoy!

      1. I dislike “The Wall” which may be partly due to the fact that the titular song has been annoying the living frigg out of me ever since I first heard it.

        I quite enjoy “The Division Bell” though, so it´s not such a clear cut to me. The whole album reminds me somewhat of “Comfortably Numb”, which is one of my favourite Floyd songs.

        In any case, WYWH is by far my favourite album of theirs.

        1. You do know Comfortably Numb is a track from The Wall, don’t you? Doesn’t mean you have to like the rest of the album, just sayin ;).

          The Division Bell will always hold a painfully special place in my hart, as my older brother chose to end his life and leave this world while listening to it, 18 years ago as of Aug 7th. We miss you Nigel.

  1. I was lucky enough in 1975 to be able to see the Wish You Were Here concert in Seattle.  It was absolutely amazing.  first set was WYWH in its entirety and after a break they came back and Played all of Dark Side of the Moon with an encore of Echos.
    I remember distinctly the film they showed during the dark side set on a giant circular  screen over the stage.  One of the best concert experiences of my life and it only cost about  6 bucks if memory serves.  Sadly I am at work and cannot watch the video just yet, but later

  2. I love the Dark Side/WYWH era of Floyd, and I love it so much more than the Syd Barret “I’m gnome on a bicycle/drinking an afternoon cup of whimsey” era which is so fashionable to prefer, for some reason.

    1. God yes, although I will always prefer Meddle and Animals to Dark side, myself. All the mid-Floyd was just great, and I even have a soft spot for some of the late stuff like the Division Bell.

    2. Agreed.  I never understood all the love the Syd-era stuff gets.  Piper at the Gates of Dawn mostly just sounds silly and disjointed to me.  Historical context and what not, improves it a bit, but still, I’d rather listen to their 70’s output…from Meddle to The Wall, and everything in between.

      1.  Some brilliance on that album.  Interstellar Overdrive rips.  If you think “whimsical” instead of “silly” you might enjoy the album more.  And of course, Syd was going crazy at the time so “disjointed” is to be expected.

        Supposedly the band ran into Syd at a restaurant completely randomly while recording Wish You Were Here.  WYWH is, of course, about Syd, and the members of Floyd noted that Syd always seemed to be involved in more than his fair share of synchronicity.  But apparently he didn’t think much of the record.

        1. Yep, a fan of the early material might say “whimsical” or “playful” or “light on its feet”, and call the mid/later Floyd stuff “heavy” or “pedantic” or “overly-engineered” by comparison.

          I’m grateful that I’ve got a place in my heart for both, and can thoroughly enjoy Piper and Dark Side and The Final Cut.   But there’s no accounting for taste.

          The Syd Barrett solo stuff is a lot harder to like though, IMO.  And I personally never really cared for the band after Roger Waters left.

          1. Most of the Floyd I’ve bothered with I’ve liked.  I don’t really like The Wall but Dark Side, Wish You Were Here, and Meddle are all great.  I like the later stuff too (I always liked Gilmour more than Waters).

            Also, I really like a LOT of the solo Syd Barrett stuff.  Terrapin, Octopus, and Long Gone are all amazing songs.  The acoustic stuff at the end of Madcap is hard to listen to but I’m pretty sure he made up most of it on the spot so it’s impressive in its own right (if true).  And the other album (Barrett) is a pretty sweet pop rock record all the way through.

            Edit: The songs that Syd recorded for Floyd but never got onto any albums were pretty amazing. I mean, way too weird to throw on a playlist but “Scream Thy Last Scream” should probably be experienced at least once.

      2. I really liked (place any given bands name here) before they “sold out”…

        It’s always fashionable for some to say things like this. Usually though, the pontificator wasn’t even born while the band in question existed.

    3.   my appreciation for Syd-era has gone up considerably after decades of listening to Robyn Hitchcock. but, that’s probably not a typical path..

  3. My favorite Floyd album, too. That, and Animals. I spent a summer destroying my ears alternating between Animals and Fear of Music on my old (cassette) Walkman. Bliss.

  4. Coincidentally enough, that cover photograph was taken directly outside my office here at Warner Bros, mere yards from where I’m currently sitting.  The slightly diagonal buttresses to the far left are the lower walls of Stage 16, the big stage with the WB badge that you see in the “underwater” sepia logo at the head of recent WB movies.  I’m in the eastern end of Building 44, immediately behind the camera and to the left.

    Other than a slightly more attractive paintjob and a bit of landscaping at the far end of the street, the location is still perfectly recognizable.

    Here’s how it looked seven minutes ago.

  5. Piper at the Gates of Dawn was a completely different band in some ways, so it’s kinda hard to compare that to most of their other, agreeably fantastic albums. Piper does have a fresh, lively, playful sound to my ears and that is a kind of psychedic. Syd, Roky Erickson, Arthur Lee, Skip Spence, Nick Drake, Brian Wilson. I’m sure I’m forgetting others. Sigh.

  6. Obscured By Clouds is,and will always be, one of my favorite recordings of all time.  It never gets a mention when Floyd comes up.  I can only guess it gets ignored because it was recorded as a film soundtrack. :/

  7. Damn, the firsthand account of Syd Barrett’s re-appearance in the studio was chilling. 

    I keep holding out hope that “Remain In Light” gets the full-length doc treatment one of these days. 

  8. Ooooh, synchronicity.  Yesterday walking home from work I was impressed to see a tattoo on someone’s calf of the two men, one on fire, handshaking from the cover of this album.  Made me want to listen to it again for the umpteenth time.  And now Xeni posts this.  Thanks!

  9. What a coincidence! I’ve been listening to WYWH over and over again (for the first time in ages) since Romanian gymnast Sandra Izbasa performed her floor routine to Shine On You Crazy Diamond last week.

    She did okay until, er, the faceplant at the very end.

    (Hoping someday some gymnast or skater will use Barrett’s “If It’s In You”)

  10. So many memories.  I was born in ’62, so while I remember the buzz around the album, I guess I wasn’t ready for it until the early ’80s, when I discovered it and Animals during an acid-eating period.  Cassettes on a boombox in a very altered state.
    Meddle, DSOTM, WYWH and Animals are nearly perfect, in my view. I like parts of The Wall, where the others were allowed to contribute, but I agree that it was the beginning of the end, which manifest itself in Final Cut, as a sort of Waters solo project.  I find that record unlistenable, and gave up on them at that point.  I thought they did some interesting songs on later records, but can’t remember listening to any of them all the way through. 
    Thanks for the post, and the other comments.  Floyd had that weird, evocative way of making you feel isolated, and seeing others’ memories is kinda cool. 

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