Back in another life, when I was writing The Legends of Classic Rock, the hardest part of the job would be in finding clever ways to retell important historical stories. How many ways could you reveal the genesis for the name Led Zeppelin (from a Keith Moon quip, if you weren’t aware), or who played on The Ballad of John and Yoko (Lennon and McCartney, with Paul on drums)? Now, one may say telling a story more than once is overkill, but in the world of classic rock, it’s those core, dare I say legendary moments that are worth repeating and retelling, as long as you can put a different spin on them each and every time.
Which is why I was absolutely thrilled with the new Blu-Ray/DVD release Pink Floyd: The Story Of Wish You Were, which is available in stores today. As well as I know the history of the band and their second masterpiece in a row, this new documentary offers up both new info and spins on old classic stories.
I’ve written countless stories on the difficulties Pink Floyd members Roger Waters, Nick Mason, David Gilmour and Richard Wright had following up their 1973 masterwork The Dark Side Of The Moon; on the initial idea to simply use three finished songs (Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Raving and Drooling, and You’ve Gotta Be Crazy) and Waters insistence that the band’s difficulties and disillusionment with the music industry could inspire a host of new songs; the appearance of British singer Roy Harper on Have A Cigar and so on. If you’re a rock writer as I once was, these are part of Pink Floyd history, the go to stories you have to be able to pull out at a moments notice.
What makes these tales fresh and exciting again is that in The Story of Wish You Were Here, all tof them are told by the participants, and it makes all the difference in the world. Hearing Roger Waters and David Gilmour (separately) explain how they collaborated on the title track is revealing, for Floyd fans and historians alike. The same goes for listening to album designer Storm Thorgerson describe what went into crafting the iconic Wish You Were Here album art. It’s especially gratifying for this old Floyd fan to hear Nick Mason, Waters and Gilmour all speak respectfully of one another and the way they worked together as a unit all those years ago (the late Richard Wright is also featured in a 2001 interview). As a whole, the producers have put together the essential historical document on how this most beloved of albums was put together, from its initial inspiration in the form of Floyd founder Syd Barrett to its ultimate ascension to the top of the North American and British album charts.
If you’re new to the music of Pink Floyd (and the band is gaining followers daily), The Story Of Dark Side Of The Moon is essential viewing. But if you’ve followed the trials and tribulation of art rock’s most beloved band for decades as I have, you’ll absolutely discover new insight and information into the creation of this classic album that continues to shine on nearly forty years after its release.