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Shine On You Crazy Diamond

"Shine On You Crazy Diamond"
The single edit of Part I
Song series by Pink Floyd from the album Wish You Were Here
Published Pink Floyd Music Publishers Ltd
Released 15 September 1975
Recorded January–July 1975
Genre Progressive rock, art rock, blues rock, jazz rock
Length 26:05 (All parts)
13:37 (Parts I–V)
12:28 (Parts VI–IX)
3:53 (Single edit)
Label Harvest (UK)
Columbia/CBS (US)
Writer David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Richard Wright [1]
Producer Pink Floyd
Wish You Were Here track listing

"Shine On You Crazy Diamond" is a nine-part Pink Floyd composition written by David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Richard Wright.[1] It is a tribute to former band member Syd Barrett. The work was first performed on their 1974 French tour, and recorded for their 1975 concept album Wish You Were Here. The song series was intended to be a side-long composition (like "Atom Heart Mother" and "Echoes"), but was ultimately split into two sections and used to bookend the album, with new material composed that was more relevant to this epic, and to the situation in which the band found themselves.[2]


  • Background and composition 1
  • Recording 2
  • Musical analysis 3
    • Parts I–V 3.1
    • Parts VI–IX 3.2
  • Live performances 4
  • Personnel 5
  • Edited versions 6
  • Releases 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Background and composition

"Shine On You Crazy Diamond" was written about the band's former leader, Syd Barrett. The work is a suite of nine parts, that was originally planned to take up the first side of the LP.[3] "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" was written at the same time as "You've Got to Be Crazy" and "Raving and Drooling" (which would later respectively become "Dogs" and "Sheep").[3]

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun
Shine on you crazy diamond
Now there's that look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky
Shine on you crazy diamond.


Bassist Roger Waters commented, as the sessions were underway, that "at times the group was there only physically. Our bodies were there, but our minds and feelings somewhere else."[4] Eventually an idea was raised to split the epic in two, Parts I–V and Parts VI–IX.[4] According to guitarist David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason on the Wish You Were Here episode of In the Studio with Redbeard, Pink Floyd recorded a satisfactory take of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", but because of a new mixing console which was installed at Abbey Road Studios, it needed to be re-recorded because excessive 'bleed' from other instruments could be heard on the drum tracks.[5] On part 3, a piano part seems to have been added "live" to the final mix, making it absent from multitrack masters. That part was re-recorded by pianist Richard Wright during the multi-channel mix used for the album Immersion Edition and the SACD release.[6]

We originally did the backing track over the course of several days, but we came to the conclusion that it just wasn't good enough. So we did it again in one day flat and got it a lot better. Unfortunately nobody understood the desk properly and when we played it back we found that someone had switched the echo returns from monitors to tracks one and two. That affected the tom-toms and guitars and keyboards which were playing along at the time. There was no way of saving it, so we just had to do it yet again.
— David Gilmour, An Interview with David Gilmour by Gary Cooper[5]
With the invention of 16-track and 2-inch tape there was the belief for quite a while that there would be something wrong with editing tape that big. Consequently whenever we played these pieces, they had to be played from beginning to end. Particularly for Roger [Waters] and myself being the rhythm section, which would be laid down first, this was [chuckling] a fairly tough business because the whole thing had to be sort of right.
— Nick Mason, In the Studio with Redbeard
Syd Barrett, visiting Abbey Road Studios on 5 June 1975

In another incident, Barrett (heavyset, with a completely shaved head and eyebrows) wandered into the studio while the band was recording Wish You Were Here, although Mason has since stated that he is not entirely certain whether "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" was the particular work being recorded when Barrett was in the studio. Because of his drastically changed appearance, the band could not recognise him for some time. When they eventually recognised Barrett, Roger Waters was so distressed he was reduced to tears.[2] Someone asked to play the suite again and Barrett said a second playback was not needed when they had just heard it. When asked what he thought of Wish You Were Here, Barrett said it sounded a "bit old". He subsequently slipped away during celebrations for Gilmour's wedding to Ginger Hasenbein, which had taken place earlier that day.[7] Gilmour confirmed this story, although he could not recall which composition they were working on when Barrett showed up.[8]

Roger was there, and he was sitting at the desk, and I came in and I saw this guy sitting behind him--huge, bald, fat guy. I thought, "He looks a bit...strange..." Anyway, so I sat down with Roger at the desk and we worked for about ten minutes, and this guy kept on getting up and brushing his teeth and then sitting--doing really weird things, but keeping quiet. And I said to Roger, "Who is he?" and Roger said "I don't know." and I said "Well, I assumed he was a friend of yours," and he said "No, I don't know who he is." Anyway, it took me a long time, and then suddenly I realised it was Syd, after maybe 45 minutes. He came in as we were doing the vocals for Shine On You Crazy Diamond, which was basically about Syd. He just, for some incredible reason he picked the very day that we were doing a song which was about him. And we hadn't seen him, I don't think, for two years before. That's what's so incredibly...weird about this guy. And a bit disturbing, as well, I mean, particularly when you see a guy, that you don't, you couldn't recognise him. And then, for him to pick the very day we want to start putting vocals on, which is a song about him. Very strange.
— Richard Wright [9]

Musical analysis

As neither the original vinyl release (1975) nor the CD re-release actually delineate the various parts precisely, the make-up of the parts below is based on a comparison of the recorded timings with the identifications in the published sheet music. Without benefit of the publication, it is easy to mistake Parts I and II as Part I, Part III as Part II, and so on, with the extensive postlude of Part V (at 11:10) as the beginning of the fifth section.

Parts I–V

Part I (Wright, Waters, Gilmour; from 0:00 to 3:54) begins with the fade-in of a dense G-minor synthesizer pad created with an wine glass harp (recycled from an earlier project known as Household Objects). This is followed by Minimoog passages followed by a lengthy, bluesy guitar solo played by Gilmour on a Fender Stratocaster (neck pickup) using a heavily compressed sound and reverb. The harmony changes from G minor to D minor at 2:29, then to C minor, and back to G minor. This is repeated again, and the part ends with the synth pad fading into the background.

The main four note guitar theme that sets the tempo for the next section of the epic.

Problems playing this file? See .

Part II (Gilmour, Waters, Wright; from 3:54 to 6:27)[10] begins with a four-note theme (B♭, F, G, E) (known informally as "Syd's theme") repeated throughout much of the entire section. This theme leads the harmony to C major (in comparison to the use of C minor in Part I). Mason starts his drumming and Waters his bass playing after the fourth playing of the four-note theme, which is the point where the riffs get into a fixed tempo, in 6/4 time. The chord leads back to G minor (as from Part I), followed by E♭ major and D major back to a coda from G minor. This part includes another solo by Gilmour.

Part III (Gilmour, Wright, Waters; from 6:27 to 8:42) begins with a Minimoog solo by Wright. This part includes Gilmour's third guitar solo, in the G natural minor scale, and ends with a fade into Part IV. When performed on the Animals tour, Gilmour added distortion to the guitar for this solo. This solo is often dropped in live performances while the rest of part III is still played—notably on Delicate Sound of Thunder and Pulse.

Part IV (Waters, Gilmour, Wright; from 8:42 to 11:10) Waters sings his lyrics, with Gilmour, Wright and female backing vocalists Venetta Fields and Carlena Williams on harmonies.

Part V (Waters, Gilmour, Wright; from 11:10 to 13:30) Part IV is followed by two guitars repeating an arpeggio variation on the main theme for about a minute with the theme of Part II. A baritone saxophone overlays the sounds, played by Dick Parry. The saxophone changes from a baritone to a tenor saxophone, as a time signature switch from 6/4 to 12/8 creates the appearance that the tempo doubles up, though the arpeggio guitar part in the background remains unchanged. The sax solo is accompanied by an ARP string synthesizer keyboard sound. A machine-like hum fades in with musique concrète and segues into "Welcome to the Machine".

Parts VI–IX

Part VI (Wright, Waters, Gilmour; from 0:00 to 4:39) begins with a howling wind from the preceding song "Wish You Were Here".[11] As the wind fades away, Gilmour comes in on the bass guitar. Waters adds another bass with a continuing riff pattern. Then Wright comes in playing an ARP String Ensemble Synthesizer and after a few measures, several rhythm guitar parts (Gilmour played the power chord rhythm part using his black Fender Stratocaster before switching to lap steel guitar for the solo in live performances from 1974–77. Snowy White did the rhythm guitar parts on this track on the band's 1977 "In the Flesh" tour) and drums come in, as well as a Minimoog synthesizer to play the opening solo. At the two-minute mark, Wright's Minimoog and Gilmour's lap steel guitar play notes in unison before Gilmour does a lap steel guitar solo (the lap steel had open D tuning) with some counterpointing from Wright's synthesizers. It lasts for about three minutes (four when played on the band's "In the Flesh" tour) and Gilmour played each section an octave higher than the previous one. The highest note he hit on the lap steel/slide solo was a B-flat nearly three octaves above middle C, followed by a reprise of the guitar solo from Part IV (which was played by White live on Pink Floyd's 1977 tour so Gilmour could switch from the lap steel guitar back to his Fender Stratocaster). The song then switches time signatures to 6/4 (found in Parts II–V), giving the appearance of a slower tempo and reintroducing the vocals.

Part VII (Waters, Gilmour, Wright; from 4:39 to 6:09) contains the vocals, in a similar vein to Part IV though half the length, before segueing into Part VIII. Waters again sings the lead vocals with Gilmour, Wright and Venetta Fields and Carlena Williams providing backing vocals.

Part VIII (Gilmour, Wright, Waters; from 6:09 to 9:07) brings in Waters to play a second electric guitar for a high-noted sound riff while Gilmour plays the arpeggio riff that bridges Parts VII and VIII. A solid progression of funk in 4/4 plays for about two minutes before very slowly fading out as a single sustained keyboard note fades in around the nine-minute mark. Throughout this section, Wright's keyboards dominate, with the use of a Minimoog synthesizer, and a Hohner Clavinet. When performed on the "In the Flesh" tour in 1977, the section would be extended to between 5 and 10 minutes as it would feature guitar solos from Gilmour (which would vary from funky power chords to a proper solo as the Animals tour progressed) and Snowy White. In addition to their guitar solos, there was also occasional trading of leads from Gilmour and White instead of the keyboard sounds as heard on record.

Part IX (Wright, from 9:07 to 12:30) is played in 4/4 time. Gilmour described Part IX in an interview as "a slow 4/4 funeral march... the parting musical eulogy to Syd".[12] Again, Wright's keyboards dominate, with little guitar input from Gilmour. Mason's drums play for much of this part, and the keyboards play for the final minute before fading out. On the fade-out, a short keyboard part of the melody of "See Emily Play" (at 12:12), one of Barrett's signature Pink Floyd songs, can be heard. Part IX, and the album, ends in G major, a Picardy third. When performed early on the Animals tour, the part begins with the piano (as heard on record) then the synth solo is played (as on record) by Dick Parry with some slide guitar accompaniment by Snowy White would then change to half synthesizer/half harmony lead guitar solo for the remainder of European leg and first US leg. For the final US leg, after the piano began it was a bluesy guitar solo from Gilmour then harmony guitars from Gilmour and White (Gilmour playing the highest parts) and then ending like on record. This was the final solo writing credit Wright would receive in Pink Floyd during his lifetime, as well as his last writing credit of any kind until The Division Bell in 1994.

Live performances

The song series was first performed in 1974 as "Shine On",[13] during the band's French tour in June that year. It was first introduced as "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" on the British tour in November 1974. The set was originally performed as one whole suite with some of the parts differing from the album versions with samplings of Barrett's solo song "Dark Globe" during the opening of the performance. The version from the British tour was included on the 2011 Experience and Immersion editions of Wish You Were Here. The multi-part version of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" was first performed on the band's 1975 North American tour with "Have a Cigar" thrown into the middle of the piece. The 1975 versions were close to the final versions except parts one and nine were still not refined yet. The band performed the whole nine-part "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" as part of the Wish You Were Here portion of their 1977 In the Flesh Tour, with extra musicians White on guitar and backing vocals and Parry on saxophones.

Parts I–V of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" became a staple of Pink Floyd's live performances from 1987–94. The track opened shows for most of the A Momentary Lapse of Reason tour of 1987–89 and the tour closing performance at Knebworth in 1990 with Candy Dulfer on saxophone.[14] The first eleven performances had "Echoes" as the show opener before the band proceeded to play all of A Momentary Lapse of Reason in the rest of the first half in a slightly different sequence to the album. A condensed edition of the track (without the Gilmour solo in Part III) would then open the second half of the shows on the group's 1994 The Division Bell tour (documented on Pulse) except on shows where all of The Dark Side of the Moon was performed when "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" opened the first half and in the last month and a half of the tour the band added part VII to Parts I–V. A similar version was also played during David Gilmour's Rattle That Lock Tour in 2015 with the according screen film on display.

Gilmour performed almost the whole suite (save part IX) at his 2001 and 2002 semi-unplugged concerts (which were documented on his 2002 David Gilmour in Concert video film) and has performed Parts I–II and IV–V (in a new arrangement) on his 2006 On an Island solo tour. Part III was omitted and Parts I and II were simplified and more guitar-focused. Gilmour performed Parts I–V on his Live in Gdańsk album on disc two and on the DVD in the four-disc edition of the album. The five-disc edition and the online downloads available in the three and four-disc editions include Parts I–V recorded in Venice and Vienne in 2006. In many of his performances, solo and with Pink Floyd, Gilmour alters the vocal melody to avoid the higher notes that were originally sung by Waters.

Waters has also performed the epic on his 1999 and 2000 tours documented on his In the Flesh – Live album and DVD which was a condensed parts I, II, IV, VI, VII, and IX. Part VI on these performances had a lap steel solo from Jon Carin then guitar solos from Doyle Bramhall II and White. Then on Waters' 2002 tour, he played all nine parts like on record (although part VIII was shortened). An abridged version of parts I–V was performed on Waters' 2006–07 The Dark Side of the Moon Live tour.



Edited versions

Three different edited versions of the composition have appeared on compilation albums:

A Collection of Great Dance Songs (Parts I, II, IV, VII)

The version on this compilation album was cut significantly. Parts III, V, VI, VIII and IX were dropped completely. Parts IV and VII are linked by the guitar solo from earlier in Part IV. Lastly, the riff that links Parts VII and VIII is repeated several times as the song segues into the introductory radio passage from "Wish You Were Here".

Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd (Parts I–VII)

The version on this compilation album was also cut, but less significantly. The guitar solo on Part III was dropped. Part VI was shortened. Parts VIII and IX were dropped completely. Linking Parts V and VI is the sound of wind. These are the same wind effects used to bridge "Wish You Were Here" to Part VI of "Diamond" on the original LP. Finally, the riff that links Parts VII and VIII is repeated several times as the song segues into the introductory passage of clocks of "Time".

A Foot in the Door – The Best of Pink Floyd (Parts I–V)

This version was also cut. Parts VI–IX were dropped completely. Part I was shortened. The guitar solo on Part III was dropped. The saxophone on Part V has an early fade-out. Finally, the machine-like hum that segues into "Welcome to the Machine" in the original album was dropped, the song simply stops and "Brain Damage" begins.


"Shine On You Crazy Diamond" features on all the below releases:

  • Delicate Sound of Thunder (VHS, Part I only) – Pink Floyd, 1988
  • PULSE (VHS and DVD, Parts I–V and VII) – Pink Floyd, 1995 (VHS) 2006 (DVD)
  • In the Flesh – Live (DVD, Parts I–VIII) – Roger Waters, 2000
  • David Gilmour in Concert (DVD, Parts I–II, IV–V and VI–VII, reprise of Part V) – David Gilmour, 2002
  • Remember That Night (DVD and BD, Parts I–II and IV–V) – David Gilmour, 2007
  • Live in Gdańsk 3-disc, 4-disc and deluxe editions (Parts I–II, IV–V) – David Gilmour, 2008


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b "A Rambling Conversation with Roger Waters concerning All this and that - Interviewed by Nick Sedgewick", October 1975
  3. ^ a b Macan, Edward (1997). Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture (illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 113.  
  4. ^ a b Macan, Edward (1997). Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture (illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 114.  
  5. ^ a b "An Interview with David Gilmour by Gary Cooper"
  6. ^ a b "The Missing Piano", April 2012
  7. ^ "Shine On!", Total Guitar, September 1996
  8. ^ La Repubblica, 3 February 2006, translation here [2]
  9. ^ Kendall, Charlie (1984). "Shades of Pink - The Definitive Pink Floyd Profile". The Source Radio Show. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Macan, Edward (1997). Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture (illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 123.  
  12. ^ Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here, Sputnik Music, January 2012
  13. ^ Carruthers, Bob (2011). Pink Floyd – Uncensored on the Record. Coda Books Ltd.  
  14. ^ "Live at Knebworth 1990". Live at Knebworth DVD Review. Pink Floyd News Resource. Retrieved 5 September 2008. As far as the Floyd selection here, not a bad choice - a nice performance of "Shine On", with a lovely solo from the Dutch saxophonist Candy Dulfer, and "Run Like Hell", which ended the concert. 
  15. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "A Collection of Great Dance Songs - Pink Floyd : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  16. ^ "Echoes: the album credits". Pink Floyd. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 

External links

  • William Ruhlmann review of Shine On You Crazy Diamond
  • Hubble Ultra Deep Field video featuring Part 1 of the song
  • Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics
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