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:


  • dave walker says:

    sim­ply beau­ti­ful

  • 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.….in 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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