16 September 2008

RIP Richard Wright

Richard Wright, keyboardist of Pink Floyd, died yesterday at the age of 65.

In his band, Richard Wright's contributions fell by the wayside. Roger Waters became the visionary and an accomplished lyricist, but my favorite Floyd songs came from the early era, after Syd Barrett was gone and up to Dark Side of the Moon. Gilmour contributed a lot, but Richard Wright was huge in this era.

I'm a little hazy on everything Rick contributed to the band, but one of his sublime moments as a songwriter was "Summer '68" from Atom Heart Mother. This album has to be the weirdest album to ever go #1 in England. It leads off with the 24 minute instrumental track, followed by an alarmingly introspective "If" by Roger Waters, followed by Summer '68. Then there's a throwaway Gilmour track, and then "Alan's English Breakfast", which is a marathon-paced track of found sound recording of deep frying bangers and eggs and Legos while on shrooms. Like if Ingmar Bergman directed a Monty Python sketch. #1 in England.

Like every high school denizen, I consumed Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall in high school. I used to sneak cigarettes from my sister and stand out on my driveway, listening to Dark Side of the Moon, staring at the moon and weighing life. This is where bad high school poetry comes from.

When I discovered in college that Pink Floyd had made approximately seven albums before Dark Side of the Moon, I came home for the summer, stalked my local library, who had built up a burgeoning collection of 250-300 classical CDs and approximately 40 pop & rock. And yet they had the entire Pink Floyd catalog. So I requested them all. That summer, as I drove to and from work, I religiously checked my mailbox for the request cards from the library. It was my lottery. They all came through, and to this day, remain the largest fan I've ever met of the 'unsung' Pink Floyd catalog -- from the point Syd Barrett left up till the point of Dark Side.

'Summer of '68' was in there. Amidst all the Roger Waters megalomania and the psychedelia was this beautiful pop song that invoked the same England that (as I'd eventually learn) Ray Davies beautified.

Sonicly, Summer '68 was probably my first favorite song to turn up on the home system - the first song that could never be loud enough. It has incredible dynamics - the same shit I fell in love with all over again with the Pixies and Nirvana in the early '90s.

To this day, I still adore this song. Linked below. Rest in peace, Richard.

Summer '68

2 Comments:

Blogger Jackson said...

'Us and Them' was his, musically at least. He sang a lot too. Much of the vocal magic of Dark Side is a blend of Ricky and Dave.

The party line is that during the period from Wish You Were Here, through Animals, and into The Wall his contributions to the music declined to the point where Roger fired him. He was hired to tour The Wall, earning a wage. Dave and Nick would follow suit for the ensuing Roger-less Floyd tours.

I would hope that they finally granted him an equal share in recent years, but I don't think so.

7:43 PM  
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4:50 AM  

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