Pink Floyd are an English rock band that initially earned recognition for their psychedelic or space rock music, and, as they evolved, for their progressive rock music. They are known for philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative cover art, and elaborate live shows. One of rock music’s most successful acts, the group have sold over 200 million albums worldwide including 74.5 million albums in the United States alone.
Pink Floyd had moderate mainstream success and were one of the most popular bands in the London underground music scene in the late 1960s as a psychedelic band led by Syd Barrett; however, Barrett’s erratic behavior eventually forced his colleagues to replace him with guitarist and singer David Gilmour. After Barrett’s departure, singer and bass player Roger Waters gradually became the dominant and driving force in the mid-1970s, until his eventual departure from the group in 1985. The band recorded several albums, achieving worldwide success with The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977), and The Wall (1979). In 1985, Waters declared Pink Floyd “A spent force”, but the remaining members, led by Gilmour, continued recording and touring under the name Pink Floyd. Although they were unsuccessfully sued by Waters for rights to the name, they again enjoyed worldwide success with A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) and The Division Bell (1994). Eventually they reached a settlement out of court with Waters allowing them use of the name.
Waters performed with the band for the first time in 24 years on July 2, 2005 at the London Live 8 concert.
Richard Wright, keyboardist and pianist for the band and wrote significant parts of the music for classic albums such as Meddle, The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here, as well as for Pink Floyd’s final studio album The Division Bell. He frequently sang background and occasionally lead vocals onstage and in the studio with Pink Floyd (most notably on the songs “Time”, “Echoes”, and on the Syd Barrett composition “Astronomy Domine”).
Richard Wright passed away on September 15, 2008 at the age of 65 from an undisclosed form of cancer.
Welcome to the Machine
“Welcome to the Machine” is the second song on Pink Floyd’s 1975 album Wish You Were Here. It is notable for its use of heavily processed synthesizers and acoustic guitars, as well as a wide and varied range of tape effects.
The song describes the band’s disillusionment with the music industry as a money-making machine rather than a forum of artistic expression. The plot centers around an aspiring musician getting signed by a seedy executive to the music industry, “The Machine”. The voice predicts all the boy’s seemingly rebellious ideas (“You bought a guitar to punish your ma, you didn’t like school, and you know you’re nobody’s fool”). The boy’s illusions of personal identity are further crushed with lines such as, “What did you dream, it’s alright we told you what to dream”.
The song was performed for the first time live on Pink Floyd’s 1977 “In the Flesh” tour. Gilmour and Waters shared lead vocals, although in initial performances, Gilmour sang on his own with some backing vocals by Waters. Also for the 1977 live performances, David Gilmour played his acoustic guitar parts on his Fender Stratocaster while Waters played an Ovation acoustic guitar and Snowy White played bass guitar. The live renditions of the song were complex because music had to be synchronized with the backdrop film and its sound effects. As a result, the band had to wear headphones and listen to a click-track which, in turn, meant that there was very little room left for jamming and improvisation. Pink Floyd would play the track again on its 1987/88/89 Momentary Lapse tours when Tim Renwick played lead guitar, while Gilmour played a 12-string acoustic guitar. These renditions were not synchronized to the film, which is why David Gilmour keeps looking at the screen on videos. The song was performed by Roger Waters during his Pros and Cons 1984/1985 tour, on the 1987 Radio K.A.O.S. tour, with Mel Collins as saxophone soloist. All of these performances were perfectly synchronized to the film. These live versions deviated significantly from the album version. It was also played on the 1999–2002 “In the Flesh” tour (only stills from the animation were used) and appears on the In the Fleshconcert DVD and CD.
The following video is the original backdrop video of Welcome to the Machine from 1975 with the studio audio removed and replaced with the fantastic sounding live performance from Oakland May 9th, 1977.
NOTE: animation is by Gerald Scarfe who would later attain great success with Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Video is on DVD.
Unfortunately, no professionally filmed footage of PInk Floyd during their prime years of 1973-1977 has ever surfaced.
Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.
Where have you been?
It’s alright we know where you’ve been.
You’ve been in the pipeline, filling in time,
Provided with toys and ‘Scouting for Boys’.
You bought a guitar to punish your ma,
And you didn’t like school, and you
know you’re nobody’s fool,
So welcome to the machine.
Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.
What did you dream?
It’s alright we told you what to dream.
You dreamed of a big star,
He played a mean guitar,
He always ate in the Steak Bar.
He loved to drive in his Jaguar.
So welcome to the Machine.
- Audio from the 1975 album, Wish You Were Here: