Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd

I’ve always loved Pink Floyd right back from their days as an underground psychedelic band at UFO. They were the band that epitomised those heady days of the 60s to me – a time full of idealism and experimentation. I used to see them in pubs and free concerts. My life seemed to revolve around UFO, Middle Earth, the Toby Jug, Eel Pie Island, Klooks Kleek and Les Cousins. That’s where we all met up.

This track harks back to the glory days of 1967-70 when we really thought we had the establishment on the run and were creating a new world without the greed and selfishness. Such naïve boldness. Such camaraderie and high hopes.

This track fills me with nostalgia and reminds me of the good friends that are no longer with us. We shared some good times and many laughs. Tony and Danny I wish you were here.

“Wish You Were Here”

So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell, blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
Did you exchange
A walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

8 thoughts on “Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd

  1. Whilst not doubting your own personal visitation to the fore mentioned London clubs, I can confirm that Pink Floyd didn’t play either Eel Pie or UFO after July `67 and didn’t ever play at any of these other venues.

    The fact of the matter is that this track does not hark back to 1967-70 or anything to do with the establishment on the run and creating a new world without the greed and selfishness or such naïve boldness or any such camaraderie and high hopes.
    It’s actually anything but.

    This track concerns and only concerns the appalling damage that Roger “Syd” Barrett committed to himself by his over indulgence with LSD. Despite the known fact that he had been overdosed by some inscrutable hippy-type people in Holland, from which he never recovered, he had been on a self-governed mission to that end anyway. If they hadn’t finished him off, he would have by his own hand at a later date.
    This song is extremely sad and poignant and by no means any cause for celebration with friends or about any high hopes. It’s about the realisation of the ghastly end of a person where there exists no such thing as any high hopes.
    How could you get the meaning of this remarkable song so fundamentally wrong?

    You may wish to refer to my book “Pink Floyd: In The Flesh – the complete performance history, by Glenn Povey and Ian Russell, first published in 1997, by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

    1. Ian – I never said they did. I said that those were clubs I used to frequent. I saw Floyd in UFO, Hyde Park, Fishmongers Arms, and Parliament Fields. But I believe I may be wrong but I think I did see Pink Floyd at Eel Pie Island with Blossom Toes. I went to so many gigs back then it’s easy to get confused.
      The track is undoubtedly about Syd but it harks back for me to those days and the friends that I have lost. It has a personal meaning to me. I did not get it wrong at all thank you, perhaps I should have made that a bit clearer that it was what it did for me though, obviously, there was that aspect of harking back contained in the lyrics.
      Syd was a sad casualty. I met him once. I think the acid probably affected a psychological problem that already existed and exacerbated it.

      1. Opher, OK, I can’t have read exactly what you had typed, but this is exactly what you did say, quote:
        “I’ve always loved Pink Floyd right back from their days as an underground psychedelic band at UFO. They were the band that epitomised those heady days of the 60s to me – a time full of idealism and experimentation. I used to see them in pubs and free concerts. My life seemed to revolve around UFO, Middle Earth, the Toby Jug, Eel Pie Island, Klooks Kleek and Les Cousins. That’s where we all met up.”

        To be honest, it still reads exactly the same the second time as it did the first time.

        You did see them at Eel Pie, but not after July `67.
        Yes, I knew of the Blossom Toes, another of Giorgio Gomelsky’s signings to the distinctly “Bubblegum-Pop” Marmalade label. Perhaps best forgotten in a hurry and definitely not chosen by Pink Floyd to appear on the same bill.

        I’ll say it again, you did very much “get it wrong”.
        The song has nothing to do with your friends from these days.
        It’s about Syd and only about Syd.
        It wasn’t recorded until years later upon the fundamental and total realisation that there really was no coming back for Syd as determined by his disaster sessions at Abbey Road in November 1974. It was that situation that prompted Roger Waters to write the song and present it for recording to Pink Floyd in 1975.
        Whatever correlation of dim and distant memories that you have concocted for your own maligned purposes, they have no basis of similarity to the content of Roger Waters’ work.
        Thousands of people met Syd. Consider yourself one of a very, very large ensemble.
        There’s really no need for presenting to me what you thought was wrong with him.
        There was absolutely nothing wrong, he hadn’t anything of any kind of any psychological problem and Roger Waters would break your writing hand for typing such. Believe it.
        I worked WITH the band for years. OK?

      2. Ian – I think you are being a bit pedantic here. I may have not made it clear enough but that last sentence was not meant to imply Floyd played all those places. They were the places I would go to regularly and meet up with the rest of the freaks. Floyd was one of the bands I used to see but I was into Blues, Folk and Progressive as well as Psychedelia. At Toby Jug I saw the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack and Led Zep. At UFO it was Floyd. At Les Cousins it was the likes of Roy Harper, Davey Graham and Al Stewart. There were all the free festivals, college gigs and pubs with Edgar Broughton, Traffic, Hendrix, Cream, Arthur Brown, Pretty Things and the like.

        As I said – the song was written for Syd but to me it had a nostalgia for those times and my friends. That is what it did for me – a personal experience. Poems and music do that. They become personal in ways the writers did not intend. As for maligned purpose??? Are you just being nasty for the sake of it??

      3. Opher, sorry but let me clarify.
        My use of the word “maligned” was not me being nasty. The word can be used in several different ways, in this case as an expression about “an untrue statement”, as such that I believed you were making upon saying “this track harks back to the glory days of 1967-70…”.
        I fail to see your complication. I was simply being matter of fact.
        Quite how the lyrics of this song can represent for you anything to do with good times and laughs is frankly, somewhat off the wall. Considering you must have read the lyrics, how could you miss that?
        It is without a doubt the singularly most unhappy song Waters ever wrote and that’s saying something!

  2. Seems like quite a stretch there Ian. Still sounds pretty nasty to me.
    What that song always said to me was that the present was bleak, that we lost the fight and ended up in a cage going around around pointlessly in a fish-bowl.
    It always made me think that we had come to this from something that had been meaningful and good and we had lost so much on the way, including friends.
    But hey – that’s just what it says to me. It made me think about how great the sixties were, how crap things became and my dead and damaged friends.

    1. I know. The sixties was a wonderful time. You got to see all the best bands in small clubs and get to meet them. Rock was completely different. It was a cultural experience with little them and us – and it was cheap! The most I paid to see Pink Floyd was under twenty pence! I got to see Led Zeppelin in a small club for 25p.

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