Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour Sings Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18

In 2001 or 2002, guitarist and singer David Gilmour of Pink Floyd recorded a musical interpretation of William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18” at his home studio aboard the historic, 90-foot houseboat the Astoria. This video of Gilmour singing the sonnet was released as an extra on the 2002 DVD David Gilmour in Concert, but the song itself is connected with When Love Speaks, a 2002 benefit album for London’s Royal Academy for the Dramatic Arts.

The project was organized by the composer and conductor Michael Kamen, who died a little more than a year after the album was released. When Love Speaks features a mixture of dramatic and musical performances of Shakespeare’s Sonnets and other works, with artists ranging from John Gielgud to Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Kamen wrote much of the music for the project, including the arrangement for Sonnet 18, which is sung on the album by Bryan Ferry. A special benefit concert to celebrate the release of the album was held on February 10, 2002 at the Old Vic Theatre in London, but Ferry did not attend. Gilmour appeared and sang the sonnet in his place. It was apparently around that time that Gilmour recorded his own vocal track for Kamen’s song.

“Sonnet 18” is perhaps the most famous of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets. It was written in about 1595, and most scholars now agree the poem is addressed to a man. The sonnet is composed in iambic pentameter, with three rhymed quatrains followed by a concluding couplet:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

This post was originally published on Open Culture on April 5, 2013. We’re bringing it back today for Gilmour’s 69th birthday.

Related Content:

Watch Pink Floyd Plays Live in the Ruins of Pompeii (1972)

Shakespeare’s Satirical Sonnet 130, As Read By Stephen Fry

A Survey of Shakespeare’s Plays (Free Course)

What Shakespeare Sounded Like to Shakespeare: Reconstructing the Bard’s Original Pronunciation


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Comments (54)
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  • Dolphinblue says:

    This is the best interpretation of Sonnet 18, and I sometimes find myself singing parts of it. Please let me know how I can buy it. Have not been able to find it on Itunes or anywhere else..

  • Donald Honeywill says:

    I turned 60 a little while ago and as long as I can remember. Pink Floyd has been a big part of my inner core, my soul.
    I would never have that David Gilmour would or could sing a Sonnet from Shakespeare.

    Good job David, well done.
    You still amaze me after all these years

  • Tammy G. Field says:

    Dear David,
    I will be 54 this summer, and I have listened to Pink Floyd for many years. You guys continue to be the best musicians ever as far as I am concerned. When I was carrying my firstborn son, I came home from the hospital where I worked and stood on my feet all day. the minute I got to our tiny 5 room apartment, the stereo began playing Pink Floyd. My son heard it in utero, and he would move in fluid-like motion…No kicking, turning upside down or any of that…He just grooved to the tunes. THANK YOU DAVID FOR ALWAYS KEEPING PINK FLOYD ALIVE!! If I could only hear one song before I died, it would be done by Pink Floyd. I can not decide on my favorite, but it would be sung by you!! THANK YOU DAVID FOR GIVING ME A WHOLE LIFETIME OF JOY THROUGH MUSIC. YOU’RE THE BEST!!!
    Oh, and by the way, did I mention my 30 year old son loves Pink Floyd too? I was surprised he didn’t come into this world singing your songs.

  • pete says:

    i have just heard the best sone ever . you still amaze me with you voice and your music will live on 4 ever the true voice of PINK FLOYED

  • Praveen says:

    Shakespeare lives forever through his work. David is re-living the emotion in his unique way. What an experience!

    Thanks you all.

  • Priya says:

    Fantastic !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Priya says:

    Fantastic !!!!!!!!!!!

  • John says:

    This has been in my playlist since I first heard it when it was released. Simply amazing!!!!! I had no idea he sang it live. I would love to get copy of that. His guitar work rings to my soul and is voice is like fine wine in that it just gets better with age.

  • kabindra shrestha says:

    this was nice …i love to watch when he was played the guitar n i m very good fan of him u ..

  • Thank you David for the special touch you put into all your musical endeavors. Next, I’d like to hear you sing a few of my favorite hymns such as Amazing Grace, This is My Father’s World or He Leadeth Me. Cheers

  • Flid says:

    You have to be in the outer reaches of the mega cool to be able to sing Shakespeare’s work and it be so incredibly haunting and poignant that the words pretentious bollocks never enter even the most cynical of minds.

  • I have very fond memories of this song. When I first discovered it, I made it my ringtone. My children at the time were maybe 4 and 2? And yet they learned the song. They’d sing along with my phone. Think about that – a 4 and 2 year old singing Sonnet 18. My boy was not talking yet so we won’t count him :)

    I even recorded it.

    My kids, now 10, 8 and 6, have grown up surrounded by Shakespeare. And I love it.

  • mike sprain says:

    Ilove to listen to you .you are one of the best

  • Barbara Hobens says:

    Eleven years difference in age between Elizabeth Tudor and the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere did not make any difference. Indeed, the written word carries on as does love; even though we age through the years, true passion does not.

  • rohan says:

    I am only 24 and have been listening to Pink Floyd since I was in the crib ha, I love this, I love Pink Floyd in general, but this is fantastic, keep it up Dave. Lots of love from your younger fans :)

  • ROBERT says:

    David, pink floyd and yourself are one of my best groups, i always loved you guys, I hope you dont think like you piece of shit bandmate roger, about how he feels about israel and the statement he said about the jewish people, because roger should have a brick falling off the wall hitting him in his asshole brain, no wonder you you did not speak to him for many years.

  • Yo says:

    Why do You bring fake religion into beautiful music for?
    Pink Floyd rocks for ever, long after We dye and become nothing!
    Roger rocks no matter how He feels about others.
    Its One of our rights to have opinions!

  • Simon says:

    Great track, lovingly performed.

    I’d love some more info on Sonnet 18 being addressed to a man if there are some links around.

  • Janey says:

    How beautiful.

  • Jeremy says:

    I like your precision, 2001 or 2002. Great reporting +/- 12 months.

  • michelle says:

    it is as Beautiful as you David

  • Ian Simpson says:

    I got this link on my facebook page today.
    Today my Sisters and Myself have gathered from all over the world to be by our Mums bed as She lives her last moments.
    This song is so perfect i would like to play it at her funeral.
    Time is short but if anyone can get a copy on a CD to me it would mean the world.

  • crystal says:

    this is so very beautiful, pink floyd and david is so cool, great song, and please keep this music and pink flyod going. thanks

  • flexy casero says:

    i’am the Floyd luni,u guys make me live,q 1043 station play u all the time,dj like Maria MILITO,Jim KER,SHILA ZANTIN,LOVE U PEACE

  • AndGreyStripes says:

    Beside this all, this page has people who listen to Pink Floyd. I love you all!

  • Sharon says:

    Always love David’s great voice.

  • Joseph Rodick says:

    Long live Pink Flyod, and long live you David. I’m going on 44 and as long as I can remember I’ve loved listening to your music. You have an amazing voice, and you truly show your talent in this song.

  • dave walker says:


  • Jeff says:

    Floyd and David Gilmour make you feel wonderful whenever you hear them. Really looking forward to another record, either Floyd or David Gilmour solo.

  • I cannot stop listening to this exquisite piece. It is the best of all musical treatments of Shakespearean lyricism that I have ever heard, hands down. It’s especially enriching to see with David Gilmour’s amazing vocal performance. Thank you so much for this.

  • Ania :) says:

    “If music be the food of love… play on…” W.S.

  • Wendy Landkammer says:

    So beautiful. Thank you.

  • Shakespeare Argentina says:


  • vitoria lima says:

    thank you so much, Renata. I have just loved this!

  • Bill Thompson says:

    Beautiful. This needs a Gilmour extended guitar solo to make it perfect. Call me a philistine, Shakespearean purists, but you know you were all thinking it. :D

  • Gustavo Bruzual-Massabie says:

    Just a piece of Calm with Mind

  • Insanoff says:

    Amazing voice!

  • Andrew Fox says:

    Wow. Oh isn’t this sublime. So beautiful.

  • sis says:

    truly exquisite! unsurpassed beauty! thank you david, thank you, jim.

  • Shakespeare Argentina says:

    Para disfrutar y compartir!

  • Jocelyne Couturier says:


  • Magda says:

    Dankie dat jy dit vir my aangestuur het Stoffel

  • Lioness says:

    Thank you and Pink Floyd for all the wonderful music and good times at your concerts… I even have a pic of the pig’s balls LOL they were blowing it up. My husband and I have enjoyed you and will continue to play your music as long as we have air in our lungs. Your music has even become a tradition in our home, every Christmas day who is playing in our home while other’s listen to Rudolph .. whom I love as well. Our home has Pink Floyd playing… <3

  • Faye says:

    This is extraordinarily beautiful! Shakespeare’s brilliance is an ever-growing fascination for me; his eternal summer shall never fade. David Gilmour’s interpretation is at the same time soothing and heart-stirring. I cannot imagine a lovelier rendering of the Bard’s verse. I would like to have this on loop playing as the soundtrack to my life.

  • Merilee Williams Perrine says:

    Forty years later what a difference beautiful! Nice birthday gift to think differently about Pink Floyd.

  • Sabine - Vihan says:

    Thanks for singing, thanks for posting. I am deeply touched by its beauty . Is there more like this and where can I get it ?
    Vihan – Sabine

  • martin cohen says:

    Here’s another version:

    Shall I compare thee to a day in the summer?
    Thou art more lovely, and winter is a bummer.
    Every love ends with death
    Yet this poem needs no breath
    And can be shared by the most distant strummer

    Martin Cohen

  • Андрей says:

    Дэвид один из величайших творцов музыки. БРАВО.

  • jose says:


  • Graham Maguire says:

    Let’s not forget the 5 members that made pink Floyd and the demise of Syd Barrett only opened another glorious and spectacular door that became a long and fabulous unique chapter in the pink Floyd story.Forget the inband fighting and appreciate what a extraordinary sound they created and still win new fans every day,plus a mention of the fourth biggest selling album of all time 1973’s The Dark Side Of The Moon 14 constant years in the charts and sales in excess of 45000’000+ still counting and superior stunning sound and vision at live concerts never ever to be beaten or repeated… one small word to describe something beyond comprehension pinkfloyd see ……” EPIC”…. Thanks Graham Maguire

  • tonystark says:

    Greatest dead metal music band

  • tonystark says:

    greatest music band

  • tonystark says:

    Greatest dead metal music band

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