Sunday, March 20, 2011

Reminiscing...: Pink Floyd - Meddle (1971), Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977)

I can't say my musical likes and dislikes have been influenced by my parents. Perhaps by by brother at most, when I was a young boy. But my parents, while loving classical music, classic rock, French chanson and other oldies, weren't too much into music, discovering music or trying to influence my musical passion.
I do remember at a young age going through their modest vinyl collection, skimming through the various records there: classical music, French singers, 70s rock records, even a Kraftwerk album (Radio-Aktivität). I remember three albums caught my eyes by a group called Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here, Meddle and Animals. At the time, these albums looked mysterious to me. I didn't know anything about the band, who they were, what type of music that was. I didn't ask my dad or brother, I simply listened with them, astonished that such sounds could be made and wanting to do something similar.

I remember that my father used to put on Wish You Were Here and increase the volume, much to the dismay of my mother. I remember the magical and other-worldly nature of the opening tunes of Shine On You Crazy Diamond. The crystalline clear and crisp sound of the organ warming up the atmosphere and then the guitar coming in, playing succinct and gorgeous bits. I remember the beautiful vocals coming in singing about this person who was apparently this visionary and madman at the same time, calling him to shine on. This album was the first to truly show me the power of music, to demonstrate its power in transporting me, the listener, away from where I was into another unrecognizable but magical place. I remember how strange the second song, Welcome To The Machine, sounded to me. These industrial like sounds, this odd atmosphere. It was almost scary.
I remember being fascinated with the pictures on the sleeves. How in the hell is that man burning up? How is the other man not trying to put him out? How is that man transparent? (I was about 6-7 years old, give me a break). These pictures still fascinate me and I love to watch them as I listen to the album.

I was also fascinated with Animals, particularly the vinyl itself, which was pink (a pink Floyd vinyl). I loved the short and simple opening short song Pigs On The Wing, with its acoustic guitars and then the following epic about "Dogs". As I grew up and could fully grasp the lyrics of Dogs, I loved it even more. I love the picture of that huge factory and the pig flying above it. It continued the air of mystery that I was getting from this group's music and album covers.

Meddle was another splendid experience. A gatefold vinyl and it took me a while to realize there was an ear on the cover...
Echoes, like Shine On... was a stunning musical journey (still is). But the other songs on there were no less charming. I loved the dog on Seamus, the coolness of St. Tropez (which matched my memories of that small town) and the aggressiveness and brutality of One Of These Days.

My wife, also a Pink Floyd fan, was also in love with this album when I met her (as was the case with other albums we both loved). It was great to share with her the passion for their music and being thrilled by the same albums, particularly these three.

Pink Floyd's music was etched on my forming mind's consciousness. I don't listen to it too often these days, but they'll always have a special place in my mind.

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