Monday, November 14, 2011

The Great Gig in the Sky

Buried in the middle of Pink Floyd's album, The Dark Side of the Moon, I never really paid a lot of attention to this song, The Great Gig in the Sky. I actually always thought it was a bit strange. It has very few words and these are difficult to understand. The only lyrics are spoken:

"And I am not frightened of dying. Any time will do, I don't mind. Why should I be frightened of dying? There's no reason for it — you've got to go sometime."

Near the end of the song (around 3:30), spoken very, very quietly: "I never said I was frightened of dying." Although song lore states that it is actually "if you hear this whispering, your dying".

The remainder of the song consists of a woman, Clare Tory, wailing to the music.

The song initially started out as organ music accompanied by Bible verses and passages from religious speeches. This earlier version was called "The Mortality Sequence". When they recorded the song, they changed the organ music to piano and worked with various types of sounds for the main "lyrics" such as NASA communications. They finally decided to go with the wailing.

So other than the title, how is this song about death? When Richard Wright was initially writing the sequence, he wasn't thinking death. Some pointed out that the song starts out slow, gets loud and angry then drifts off and this has been compared to death. (I haven't seen a lot of deaths that start out slow then get angry, but the drifting off I can see.) Some have compared the wailing to crying, grief, mourning. Others feel the wailing is supposed to be full of fear, terror. I guess that would refer back to the fear of dying lines spoken at the beginning of the song.

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