Last night, for what will be – most likely – the very last time in my life, I laid down in my couch, with all the lights down and the volume way up, to lend my ears to a totally new-to-discover Pink Floyd album. Throughout the first three parts of The Endless River, my mind, captured between the very last notes that will ever be played on Richard Wright’s hammond (by the fingers of an absolute musical genius), the breathing of David Gilmour’s slide guitar glueing together the beats pumping out of Nick Mason’s drums, started wandering across the decades of sounds that these three English gents, along with Roger Waters for the best and most fruitful stretch of the road, and Syd Barrett for its debut, have put into our lives. At one point, I was so emotionally overwhelmed that I almost felt like crying.
To virtually anyone born between 1965 and 1980 – and even to some of the younger rock-loving fellows – Pink Floyd has been an almost permanent presence through the years, somewhat of a soundtrack to our lives. How many of our never-ending teenage afternoons, of our weekends in the countryside, of our summer trips abroad, how many hours spent driving along this or that motorway along the years have been filled with the notes from The Wall, Ummagumma, Atom Heart Mother or Animals? How many times have we sung in our mind to, restlessly longed for, shared a smile with, been drowning in sorrow for, or sent a kiss to our loved one while The Dark Side Of The Moon, Meddle or Wish You Were Here were shaking the air and the walls around us? Just look back: so many times, Gilmour’s soft and powerful voice and guitars, Water’s introspections and brilliant lyrics, Mason’s velveted tempo, and Wright’s shiver-producing atmospheres were there with us, right by our side.
To be honest, I don’t even think Pink Floyd is my favorite band. It’s very high on my list, that’s for sure (certainly in my top five), but maybe not the first. And yet, I think no other band or artist has accompanied my journey through the days and the years as much as Pink Floyd did. There are few other songs, from other acts, that I’ve related to as strongly and deeply as I did to Echoes, Time, Wish You Were Here or Comfortably Numb. And truly, I was happy to find a little bit of all this last night, through the notes of The Endless River. What’s kind of strange, is that at some point between Part 3 and 4, I was so much drawn into the flow of the music – some kind of a natural high – that I fell asleep, and that I instinctively woke up a couple of minutes later, right on the first notes of Louder Than Words.
Some say Pink Floyd is not half as good as it was before Roger Waters left, and I can partly agree on this, but still, I think this song – an ode to music itself, a tribute to their own music – has its glimpse of genius in it, and is not a bad wrap-up at all, for all these decades that went by, with or without Waters (after all, as the very last song in Pink Floyd’s history says, and I must agree on this too, the thing they do, the sum of their parts, and the way their/our hearts beat to it, is louder than words, louder even than all the fights that have torn the heart of the band apart some thirty years ago).
To me, just like Echoes bore in it, quite surprisingly, an embryo of what each one of the band’s following albums would sound like, The Endless River finds amalgamated in its weeping guitars, its vibrating keyboards, and its vivid rythms, a pinch of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, one of Breathe, and one of Summer ’68, together with a touch of Time, of Pigs, and of Comfortably Numb, as well as a distant echo from Echoes itselft. And perhaps this is part of the reason why, all of a sudden, I felt like sheding a tear, last night, in the middle of my half-lit living room. Goodbye, Syd, Roger, Richard, Nick, David. We will never be able to thank you enough for this thrilling soundtrack you’ve given to so many of our days.