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.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in 2013.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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

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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