David Gilmour Invites a Street Performer to Play Wine Glasses Onstage With Him In Venice: Hear Them Play “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”

It’s one of the ironies of the mid-sev­en­ties that Pink Floyd became iden­ti­fied with the worst excess­es of pop­u­lar rock and roll. They were dis­missed by punk and New Wave bands as too slick and bom­bas­tic, but while they may have turned into a sta­di­um act after Dark Side of the Moon, they also deserved cred­it for pio­neer­ing the kind of avant-art-rock the­ater punk even­tu­al­ly nor­mal­ized. One ear­ly per­for­mance, for exam­ple, involved “saw­ing wood and boil­ing ket­tles on stage,” writes Mark Blake, of the album that was meant to be the fol­low-up to Dark Side of the Moon—an album called House­hold Objects, con­sist­ing entire­ly of sounds made on… house­hold objects.

The band was total­ly engrossed in this rad­i­cal­ly anti-com­mer­cial DIY project until 1974, “mak­ing chords up from the tap­ping of beer bot­tles,” remem­bers pro­duc­er John Leck­ie, then a tape oper­a­tor at Abbey Road, “tear­ing news­pa­pers for rhythm, and let­ting off aerosol cans to get a hi-hat sound.” Giv­en the incred­i­ble expense of spend­ing hours a day—over a peri­od of years—recording rub­ber bands and pen­cils at Abbey Road stu­dios, one can see the mer­it in charges of mean­ing­less excess.

But as we’ve seen from Jimi Hen­drix, Bri­an Wil­son, The Bea­t­les, and the mad­den­ing record­ing process of Steely Dan, when tal­ent­ed musi­cians have the lux­u­ry to use the stu­dio as an instru­ment, the results can very well jus­ti­fy the cost­ly means. What did House­hold Objects yield? The haunt­ing crys­talline sound of the wine glass harp in “Shine One You Crazy Dia­mond Part 1.” Maybe not much else. Was it worth it? I think so. But how can any­one mea­sure such things?

Bet­ter to “go with the flow,” as David Gilmour’s wife Pol­ly Sam­son tells him in the video at the top—do what­ev­er seems like the intu­itive next thing and see what hap­pens. This is not a triv­ial state­ment. It was the guid­ing cre­ative prin­ci­ple of Pink Floyd’s most inspired work. Gilmour takes her advice, and invites wine glass play­er Igor Skl­yarov, whom he met that day on the streets of Venice, to per­form on “Shine on You Crazy Dia­mond” in St. Mark’s Square that very night. (You’ll see some footage of the show in the short clip.)

Of course, the wine glass­es have made it into many live per­for­mances of the song—see a trio of play­ers rehearse the part above, and play it live below. Sklyarov’s turn on the glass­es is just one notable demon­stra­tion of Floy­di­an spon­tane­ity. Gilmour’s ver­sion of “go with the flow” might always be more rar­i­fied than ours, but the les­son he and his erst­while Pink Floyd band­mates impart­ed remains rel­e­vant and acces­si­ble to every artist.

via Laugh­ing Squid

Relat­ed Con­tent:

When Pink Floyd Tried to Make an Album with House­hold Objects: Hear Two Sur­viv­ing Tracks Made with Wine Glass­es & Rub­ber Bands

Watch Pink Floyd Play Live Amidst the Ruins of Pom­peii in 1971 … and David Gilmour Does It Again in 2016

An Hour-Long Col­lec­tion of Live Footage Doc­u­ments the Ear­ly Days of Pink Floyd (1967–1972)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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