David Gilmour and Roger Waters, "Breathe" / "Brain Damage"

>> Friday, May 24, 2013

Don't get too excited.  The title of the video implies more promises than it keeps: I don't know when these clips were recorded and edited, but you have David Gilmour doing a gorgeous acoustic solo performance of the second track from The Dark Side Of The Moon and Roger Waters doing a gorgeous acoustic solo performance of the penultimate track from the same record.  In different studios, I think (though it may just be different parts of the control room caught at different angles).  I don't even know when the performances were captured or if they were filmed the same year; Waters looks a little younger than he usually appears these days, and cleaner shaven, but perhaps it's the aptly mellow way the tableau is lit.

There's no such thing as a Pink Floyd reunion anymore: it's almost five years since we lost Rick Wright to cancer, and somehow it wouldn't be the same.  I don't know how this works, exactly--King Crimson can have, like, eighty-nine different rotating members plus one Robert Fripp, every incarnation playing a completely different prog/art/fusion/psychedelia/wtf subgenre of rock, and it's always King Crimson, but R.E.M. staggers on without their original drummer and really does stagger until their breakup almost seems an inevitable and weirdly welcome release.  I don't know how magic works, it's very mysterious.  The Rolling Stones are The Rolling Stones sans Brian Jones (I am a poet, rhyme is written in my bones), but Fleetwood Mac without Peter Green is a hit.  Genesis gets to their third album without Steve Hackett and Phil Collins before their classic lineup gels, then Peter Gabriel leaves and later Hackett leaves and their other classic lineup gels, and then after two decades Collins leaves and the band releases an album that practically nobody knows they put out, and that's when the clicking stops clicking, after finally losing the guy who basically replaced two other guys, one of whom had a pretty exceptional solo career.  Magic, happens, stops happening, go figure--no, don't, I'm pretty sure you won't figure out how the trick's done because if anybody could the A&R people would bottle it.  Point, anyway, being that for some reason Richard Wright, Nick Mason and David Gilmour can be Pink Floyd (well, that's disputed, but most people rolled with it), but Roger Waters, Nick Mason and David Gilmour can't be even though technically they sort of were for about a year in '82-'83.  Wright is kind of a magic piece: he wasn't the lead vocalist or the main songwriter, he never was much use as a producer, he really wasn't the band's chief arranger or anything like that; and yet he was still somehow the soul of the band, and I think you could probably draw up a chart most Floydians would agree with demonstrating how the soul of a Pink Floyd album is inversely proportional to how involved Rick Wright was in the production of it.

I don't necessarily mean quality, though something intangible about Wrightiness is probably a factor there.  Animals is fairly high on my own personal ranking of Pink Floyd albums in spite of, or maybe even because of a certain kind of existential sterility (well past the point of mere bleakness), and it's a record that features quite a lot of Wright's playing but very little of his engagement (he seems more engaged on the tour, though, and I'll also admit '77 bootlegs have been a factor in keeping my estimations of that album so high: it may have been a train wreck that basically broke the band, but so many of those shows, with the band fighting to stay alive, feature playing that is just fierce, above and beyond the ferocity you might associate with something like "Sheep").  The Final Cut is a heartfelt record, though there's ultimately something empty about it that becomes clearer the farther it recedes in the rearview (like half a pair of sunsets), even aside from whatever dated quality its anti-Thatcherism ranting might have (the witch is finally dead, along with that hollow fakir Wizard Of Oz with his entreaties to ignore the men behind the curtain, joining so many incurable tyrants and kings, Latin American meat-packing glitterati, et al.), and of course it's the only Pink Floyd record missing Wright entirely).  On the other end, The Division Bell is an underrated swan song for the band, a beautiful but overlooked farewell letter, and here's Rick Wright holding everything down with his keys and harmonies.

But if Pink Floyd is gone from the world, I'd still love to see the guys who are left cover their scars and, I dunno, hang out and maybe even play for us.  Who wouldn't, I mean aside from, apparently, the gentlemen themselves?  There was a wonderful reunion-of-sorts in 2011 in London as part of Roger Waters' Wall tour, and this is something I'd love to see happen more often.  It might be too much to ever hope for, but some kind of non-Floyd hanging-out-recording thing with some combination of the survivors, the kind of thing Roger Plant and Jimmy Page sometimes got up to in the post-Zeppelin decades, would be pretty awesome.

Or even, you know, just knowing that the guys were cool, that they were friends again, that they could sit down together and talk about a record, or bang out a few bars on the acoustics now and again.  Heck, just a gossipy item that they were caught having dinner.  Periodically there are the depressing interviews with somebody where Gilmour or Waters (especially--Mason seems to be copacetic with everyone these days) claims they aren't close now but then they never really were; well, y'know, I've read Nick Mason's memoir and it's stuffed full of photos of people in Pink Floyd on vacation together, chilling out together, mugging for a camera held by another bandmate, striking a pose in their football uniforms (the Floyd and their entourage of crew, management and spouses/sig others would play matches against other British prog bands and everyone had official uniforms they'd done up and everything): so I'm not buying the "always estranged" line.  I think it's what old men say about family they fought vicious fights with after the bleeding's stopped.  I wish they'd stop and remember they were badasses together, brothers-in-arms.


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