The Story of Wish You Were Here: Documentary of the Classic 1975 Pink Floyd Album

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.

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