Note: it looks like the film has gone offline. You can watch the trailer above. In the meantime, we have two other great Pink Floyd videos for you: Rock Among the Ruins: Pink Floyd Live in Pompeii (1972) and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters Performs The Wall at the Berlin Wall (1990 and 2011).
When I was young, the first songs every aspiring rock star would learn on guitar were Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” and Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” I dutifully learned both baroque compositions before stumbling on to sludgy three-chord hardcore punk. “Wish You Were Here,” the song is, yes, a staple of high-school talent shows and every singer/songwriter in every coffeeshop, but that’s only because it is an incredibly powerful song from an incredibly powerful record, also called Wish You Were Here (WYWH). The documentary above tells the story of that record’s making. It begins with the atmospheric blues of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” and its tragic inspiration, Floyd’s former leader Syd Barret—whose absence haunts the band as they discuss the genesis of WYWH—then the film continues on to the band’s collective sense of ennui after the success of 1973's Dark Side of the Moon. All along, we’re treated to lengthy interviews, impromptu solo performances from Roger Waters and David Gilmour (never in the same room, of course), and fascinating looks at the recording process at Abbey Road Studios. An excerpt from the film description cites more specifics:
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.
Richard Metzger at Dangerous Minds reviews the film here.
Josh Jones is a doctoral candidate in English at Fordham University and a co-founder and former managing editor of Guernica / A Magazine of Arts and Politics.