Pink Floyd Releases Its First New Song in 28 Years to Help Support Ukraine

“I rang Nick up and said: ‘lis­ten, I want to do this thing for Ukraine. I’d be real­ly hap­py if you played on it and I’d also be real­ly hap­py if you’d agree to us putting it out as Pink Floyd.’ And he was absolute­ly on for that.

In 2015, David Gilmour was sched­uled to play a con­cert in Lon­don with the Ukrain­ian band Boom­Box. As he explained in a recent state­ment, the band’s lead singer Andriy Khlyvnyuk had trou­ble with his visa, leav­ing the rest of the Boom­box to back Gilmour on a ver­sion of “Wish You Were Here.” That song’s sen­ti­ments took on an entire­ly dif­fer­ent kind of urgency last month after Rus­sia invad­ed Ukraine.

“Recent­ly I read that Andriy had left his Amer­i­can tour with Boom­Box, had gone back to Ukraine, and joined up with the Ter­ri­to­r­i­al Defense,” said Gilmour. “Then I saw this incred­i­ble video on Insta­gram, where he stands in a square in Kyiv with this beau­ti­ful gold-domed church and sings in the silence of a city with no traf­fic or back­ground noise because of the war. It was a pow­er­ful moment that made me want to put it to music.”

The song Khlyvnyuk sings is “Oh, the Red Vibur­num in the Mead­ow,” a “1914 protest song,” The Guardian reports, “writ­ten in hon­or of the Sich Rifle­men who fought both in the first world war and the Ukrain­ian war of inde­pen­dence.” Gilmour decid­ed to go fur­ther and use the “big plat­form” of Pink Floyd to release a sin­gle by the band – their first orig­i­nal song in 28 years. He called drum­mer Nick Mason and they record­ed the track in Gilmour’s barn with bassist Guy Pratt and key­boardist Nitin Sawh­ney.

Released as “Hey, Hey, Rise Up” – with Khlyvnyuk’s approval (Gilmour says it took some doing to track him down) – the track’s pro­ceeds will be donat­ed to the Ukraine Human­i­tar­i­an Relief Fund. It’s prob­a­bly safe to say that this is not a Pink Floyd reunion. Gilmour insist­ed the band was done when key­boardist Richard Wright died in 2008. “This is the end,” he told the BBC, and there’s lit­tle rea­son to think he’s gear­ing up for a tour or a new Pink Floyd album now.

Instead, “Hey, Hey, Rise Up” is part of a larg­er protest by Gilmour, who writes of his Ukrain­ian daugh­ter-in-law Jan­i­na, his grand­chil­dren, and his “extend­ed Ukrain­ian fam­i­ly” as a very per­son­al con­nec­tion to the news of the inva­sion. But he also wants to give young Ukraini­ans like Khlyvnyuk – who had no idea the world was watch­ing – a larg­er voice and give voice to the shock and hor­ror felt the world over as civil­ian deaths and atroc­i­ties mount. As he wrote in his state­ment:

We, like so many, have been feel­ing the fury and the frus­tra­tion of this vile act of an inde­pen­dent, peace­ful demo­c­ra­t­ic coun­try being invad­ed and hav­ing its peo­ple mur­dered by one of the world’s major pow­ers… We want to express our sup­port for Ukraine and in that way, show that most of the world thinks that it is total­ly wrong for a super­pow­er to invade the inde­pen­dent demo­c­ra­t­ic coun­try that Ukraine has become.

Gilmour has pulled all his solo records and Pink Floyd’s cat­a­logue post-1987 from stream­ing ser­vices in Rus­sia. As for spec­u­la­tion that Roger Waters blocked the removal of ear­li­er Pink Floyd mate­r­i­al, or con­tro­ver­sies over Waters’ state­ments to Rus­sia Today and oth­er out­lets – “Let’s just say I was dis­ap­point­ed and let’s move on,” says Gilmour.

He’s more inter­est­ed in talk­ing about the war and Khlyvnyuk’s expe­ri­ences. “He said he had the most hell­ish day you could imag­ine,” when Gilmour spoke to him and sent him the song — a day spent “pick­ing up bod­ies of Ukraini­ans, Ukrain­ian chil­dren, help­ing with the clear­ing up. You know, our lit­tle prob­lems become pathet­ic and tiny,” he says, “in the con­text of what you see him doing.”

See the Eng­lish trans­la­tion of the song just below:

In the mead­ow a red vibur­num has bent down low
Our glo­ri­ous Ukraine has been trou­bled so
And we’ll take that red vibur­num and we will raise it up
And we, our glo­ri­ous Ukraine shall, hey—hey, rise up—and rejoice!
And we’ll take that red vibur­num and we will raise it up
And we, our glo­ri­ous Ukraine shall, hey—hey, rise up and rejoice!

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Pink Floyd’s First Mas­ter­piece: An Audio/Video Explo­ration of the 23-Minute Track, “Echoes” (1971)

Watch the Last, Tran­scen­dent Per­for­mance of “Echoes” by Pink Floyd Key­boardist Richard Wright & David Gilmour (2006)

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

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

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