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Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd song)

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"Wish You Were Here"
Song by Pink Floyd
from the album Wish You Were Here
Released12 September 1975
RecordedJanuary–July 1975
StudioAbbey Road, London
GenreProgressive rock[1]
Producer(s)Pink Floyd
"Wish You Were Here" on YouTube

"Wish You Were Here" is a song by English rock band Pink Floyd, released as the title track of their 1975 album of the same name.[2][3] Guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour and bassist/vocalist Roger Waters collaborated in writing the music, with Gilmour singing lead vocals.

The song is popular on classic rock radio stations and remains a staple of Pink Floyd's discography. It was voted the 18th best rock song of all time by listeners of New York City’s Q104.3, and ranked No. 302 on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time", both in 2021.[4][5][6] Billboard and Louder Sound ranked the song number one and number three, respectively, on their lists of the 50 greatest Pink Floyd songs.[7][8]


In the original album version, the song segues from "Have a Cigar" as if a radio had been tuned away from one station, through several others (including a radio play and one playing the opening of the finale of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony), and finally to a new station where "Wish You Were Here" is beginning.[9] The radio was recorded from Gilmour's car radio. He performed the intro on a twelve-string guitar, processed to sound like it was playing through an AM radio, and then overdubbed a fuller-sounding acoustic guitar solo. This passage was mixed to sound as though a guitarist were listening to the radio and playing along. As the acoustic part becomes more complex, the "radio broadcast" fades away and Gilmour's voice enters, while the rest of the band joins in.[10]

The intro riff is repeated several times before Gilmour plays further solos with scat singing accompaniment. A third verse follows, featuring an increasingly expressive vocal from Gilmour and audible backing vocals. At the end of the recorded song, the final solo crossfades with wind sound effects, and finally segues into the second section of the multi-part suite "Shine On You Crazy Diamond".

Lyrically, the song is often considered to be a direct tribute to Syd Barrett. However, on the documentary The Story of Wish You Were Here, Gilmour and Waters separately describe the original concept that differs from this interpretation. Waters, who mainly wrote the lyrics complementing Gilmour's initial riff idea and subsequent joint composition, describes the lyrics as being directed at himself, as his lyrics often are. Being present in one's own life and freeing one's self in order to truly experience life is a main topic in this song. Gilmour, on the other hand, recognises that he never performs the song without remembering Syd Barrett. Waters later adds that the song is nevertheless open to interpretation.[11]

Both Gilmour and Waters have praised the song as one of Pink Floyd's finest. Waters has noted that the collaboration between himself and Gilmour on the song was "really good. All bits of it are really, really good. I'm very happy about it."[12] Gilmour has playfully called "Wish You Were Here" "a very simple country song" and stated that "because of its resonance and the emotional weight it carries, it is one of our best songs."[13]


"Wish You Were Here" was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, as part of the sessions for the entire album.

A noted part of the song was a planned contribution by Stéphane Grappelli. A jazz violinist popular at the time and well known for his collaborations with Yehudi Menuhin, both violinists were recording in a downstairs studio at Abbey Road at the time. Gilmour had suggested that there be a little "country fiddle" at the end of the song and invited them to participate. Grappelli duly obliged (Menuhin declined) on arranging a session fee of £300, equivalent to £3,200 in 2024.[14] Ultimately during mixing it was decided to almost remove his contribution, although it can just be heard around 5:21. According to Waters it was decided that it would be insulting to credit Grappelli in the sleeve notes for something so inaudible, although he did receive the agreed-upon fee.[15][16][17]

In the introduction, Gilmour can be heard drinking, coughing, and breathing heavily before the main guitar begins. Reportedly he could not hold the cough due to his smoking habit, and his disappointment with the final recording led him to quit smoking cold turkey.[18]

As part of the Why Pink Floyd...? campaign, the Experience and Immersion versions of the Wish You Were Here album include an alternative version of the song where Grappelli's part is heard in the instrumental break after the second verse and throughout the third verse before a considerably extended outro. Other less obvious differences are audible, for example at the section leading into the second verse.

Live performances[edit]

In 2005, Waters and Eric Clapton performed the song at the Tsunami Aid concert, and in 2005's Live 8, Waters rejoined his former bandmates in London to perform it, along with four other classic Pink Floyd songs. Waters and Gilmour shared lead vocals.[19][20]

On 13 December 2014, Gilmour was a guest performer at a concert by the Bombay Bicycle Club at Earls Court Arena, their concert being the final event ever to take place there before its demolition. Band member Jamie MacColl introduced Gilmour, saying; "This man gave me my first guitar and was one of the first people to play this venue and by my count has played here more than 27 times." Gilmour then played with the band on their song "Rinse Me Down" before a performance of "Wish You Were Here".[21]

Other versions by Pink Floyd[edit]

"Wish You Were Here" appeared as the fifth track on A Collection of Great Dance Songs in 1981 (with the radio intro following the end of a heavily edited "Shine On You Crazy Diamond") and as the 23rd track on the Echoes compilation[22] in 2001 (with the radio intro following "Arnold Layne", and at the end crossfading with "Jugband Blues").

A live recording included on the 1995 live album Pulse was issued as a single/EP. Its intro replicates the sound of the original, semi-ambient intro. The cover of the EP features two men whose faces are distorted by fish bowls, referring to the line "We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year".

The Experience edition of Wish You Were Here from the 2011 Why Pink Floyd...? re-release campaign includes a version of "Wish You Were Here" featuring Stéphane Grappelli on violin much more prominently. The recording of Grappelli, which Mason had thought he might have recorded over in subsequent sessions for "Wish You Were Here", was uncovered in the EMI vaults during re-mastering work for the Why Pink Floyd...? campaign.[23] Mason discussed the alternative version on the BBC Radio 4 Front Row programme, and revealed that Yehudi Menuhin, who was recording with Grappelli in Abbey Road's Studio Two, was also invited to play on "Wish You Were Here" but declined, as he was not as comfortable as Grappelli at improvising.[24]


Pink Floyd

Additional musicians


Chart (2007) Peak
Norway (VG-lista)[25] 18
Chart (2012) Peak
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[26] 48
France (SNEP)[27] 192
Germany (Media Control AG)[28] 67
UK Singles (OCC)[29] 68


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[30] Gold 45,000
Italy (FIMI)[31] 2× Platinum 100,000
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[32] Platinum 60,000
United Kingdom (BPI)[33] Platinum 600,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

"Wish You Were Here" (live)[edit]

"Wish You Were Here (live)"
Single by Pink Floyd
from the album Pulse
Released20 July 1995
Recorded20 September 1994
VenueCinecittà, Rome
Pink Floyd singles chronology
"High Hopes" / "Keep Talking"
"Wish You Were Here (live)"
"Proper Education"

Pink Floyd recorded a live version of "Wish You Were Here" for their third live album, Pulse. It was released as a single on 20 July 1995 in the United Kingdom and Europe, notably the last single released by the band until October 2014.

Track listings[edit]

CD[34][unreliable source]
1."Wish You Were Here (Live)"5:40
2."Coming Back to Life (Live)"6:40
CD Maxi[35][unreliable source]
1."Wish You Were Here (Live)"5:40
2."Coming Back to Life (Live)"6:40
3."Keep Talking (Live)"6:54


Chart (1995) Peak
US Album Rock Tracks (Billboard)[36] 13

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label Catalog no.
Netherlands[37] 20 July 1995 EMI PFSING1 (CD-R)
724388220828 (CD)
7243 8 82207 2 9 (CD maxi)
United Kingdom
  • CD
  • CD maxi
724388220828 (CD)
7243 8 82207 2 9 (CD maxi)

Wyclef Jean version[edit]

"Wish You Were Here"
Single by Wyclef Jean
from the album The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book
Released26 November 2001 (2001-11-26)[38]
  • Jerry 'Wonder' Duplessis
  • Wyclef Jean
Wyclef Jean singles chronology
"Perfect Gentleman"
"Wish You Were Here"
"Two Wrongs"

"Wish You Were Here" served as the fourth and final single from Haitian rapper Wyclef Jean's second studio album, The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book (2001). It was released on 26 November 2001, peaking at number 28 on the UK Singles Chart and reaching the top 50 in Germany, Ireland, Norway, and Switzerland.

Track listings[edit]

UK CD single (672156 2)[39]

  1. "Wish You Were Here" (radio edit) – 4:04
  2. "No Woman, No Cry" (album version) – 4:33
  3. "911" (live) – 4:23
  4. "Wish You Were Here" (video)

UK cassette single (672156 4)[40]

  1. "Wish You Were Here" (LP version) – 4:08
  2. "Perfect Gentleman" (remix radio edit) – 3:59

European CD single (COL 671952 1)[41]

  1. "Wish You Were Here" (radio edit) – 4:04
  2. "911" (live) – 4:23


Chart (2001–2002) Peak
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[42] 51
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[43] 87
Germany (Official German Charts)[44] 40
Ireland (IRMA)[45] 38
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40 Tipparade)[46] 13
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[47] 100
Norway (VG-lista)[48] 19
Scotland (OCC)[49] 25
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[50] 49
UK Singles (OCC)[51] 28
UK Hip Hop/R&B (OCC)[52] 14

Cultural references[edit]

Other cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ Macan, Edward (1997). Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture. Oxford University Press. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-19988-009-6.
  2. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2004). The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate Books. p. 1177. ISBN 1-84195-551-5.
  3. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X.
  4. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time: Pink Floyd, 'Wish You Were Here'". Rolling Stone. 15 September 2021. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  5. ^ "Top 1043 Songs of All Time - Q104.3".
  6. ^ "Top 1000 Classic Rock Songs of All Time". www.rocknrollamerica.net. Archived from the original on 29 April 2022. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  7. ^ Unterberger, Andrew (4 August 2017). "The 50 Greatest Pink Floyd Songs: Critic's Picks". Billboard. Retrieved 25 May 2023.
  8. ^ "The 50 greatest Pink Floyd songs ever". Louder Sound. 20 September 2022. Retrieved 25 May 2023.
  9. ^ The Absolute sound, Volume 18, Issues 87-90 p.113. Retrieved 9 September 2011
  10. ^ Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here (Songbook. 1975 Pink Floyd Music Publishers Ltd., London, England. ISBN 0-7119-1029-4 (USA ISBN 0-8256-1079-6).
  11. ^ Edginton, John (Director) (26 June 2012). The Story of Wish You Were Here (Documentary). UK: Eagle Rock Entertainment. 48 minutes in minutes in. YouTube title: Pink Floyd - The Story of Wish You Were Here (720p with subtitles)
  12. ^ Edginton, John (Director) (26 June 2012). The Story of Wish You Were Here (Documentary). UK: Eagle Rock Entertainment. YouTube title: Pink Floyd - The Story of Wish You Were Here (720p with subtitles) 49:58
  13. ^ Edginton, John (Director) (26 June 2012). The Story of Wish You Were Here (Documentary). UK: Eagle Rock Entertainment.YouTube title: Pink Floyd - The Story of Wish You Were Here (720p with subtitles) 52:38
  14. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 7 May 2024.
  15. ^ Metzger, Richard (26 April 2013), "Wish You Were Here: Pink Floyd Jam with Stéphane Grappelli, 1975", Dangerous Minds, retrieved 27 April 2013
  16. ^ Shea, Stuart; Pink Floyd (1 July 2009). Pink Floyd FAQ: Everything Left to Know ... and More!. Backbeat Books. ISBN 9781617133947.
  17. ^ Blake, Mark (2008). "Riding the Gravy Train". Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Thunder's Mouth Press. p. 230. ISBN 978-1-56858-383-9. Roy Harper wasn't the only special guest, or old friend to drop by the sessions. When it was discovered that classical violinists Yehudi Menuhin and Stéphane Grappelli were recording a duet at Abbey Road, [David] Gilmour suggested Grappelli come in and play a final violin coda to the song 'Wish You Were Here'. Grappelli haggled over his fee but finally settled at £300. In the end, his playing is virtually inaudible on the final mix.
  18. ^ Kiryushkin, Alexander. "7 Accidental Mistakes Not Edited Out of Songs". Ultimate Guitar. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  19. ^ Povey, Glenn (2007). Echoes: the complete history of Pink Floyd. Mind Head Publishing. ISBN 9780955462405. Retrieved 9 September 2011.
  20. ^ "Pink Floyd Visionary Syd Barrett Dies At 60". Billboard. 22 July 2006. p. 46. Retrieved 9 September 2011.
  21. ^ "Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour joins Bombay Bicycle Club to perform 'Wish You Were Here'". NME. 14 December 2014.
  22. ^ "Echoes: the album credits". Pink Floyd. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  23. ^ Chattman, Jon (26 September 2011). "Nick Mason: Pink Floyd Ready to Empty the Vaults". Huffington Post. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  24. ^ Wilson, John (26 September 2011). "Violinist Grappelli found on 'lost' Pink Floyd track". BBC. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  25. ^ "Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here". VG-lista.
  26. ^ "Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  27. ^ "Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here" (in French). Les classement single.
  28. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet". Musicline.de. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  29. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  30. ^ "Danish single certifications – Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here". IFPI Danmark. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  31. ^ "Italian single certifications – Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  32. ^ "Spanish single certifications – Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here". El portal de Música. Productores de Música de España. Retrieved 8 March 2024.
  33. ^ "British single certifications – Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  34. ^ "Wish You Were Here (Live) (CD, Single)". Pink Floyd. Discogs. 1995. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  35. ^ "Wish You Were Here (Live) (CD, Maxi-Single)". Pink Floyd. Discogs. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  36. ^ "Artist Chart History (Singles) – Pink Floyd". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 July 2007.
  37. ^ "Netherlands CD Singles". Pink Floyd Discography Archive. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  38. ^ "New Releases – For Week Starting November 26, 2001: Singles" (PDF). Music Week. 24 November 2001. p. 31. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  39. ^ Wish You Were Here (UK CD single liner notes). Wyclef Jean. Columbia Records. 2001. 672156 2.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  40. ^ Wish You Were Here (UK cassette single sleeve). Wyclef Jean. Columbia Records. 2001. 672156 4.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  41. ^ Wish You Were Here (European CD single liner notes). Wyclef Jean. Columbia Records. 2001. COL 671952 1.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  42. ^ "Wyclef Jean – Wish You Were Here" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  43. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 19, no. 51. 15 December 2001. p. 11. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  44. ^ "Wyclef Jean – Wish You Were Here" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  45. ^ "Irish-charts.com – Discography Wyclef Jean". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  46. ^ "Tipparade-lijst van week 2, 2002" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 6 April 2023.
  47. ^ "Wyclef Jean – Wish You Were Here" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  48. ^ "Wyclef Jean – Wish You Were Here". VG-lista. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  49. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  50. ^ "Wyclef Jean – Wish You Were Here". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  51. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  52. ^ "Official Hip Hop and R&B Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 18 August 2021.

External links[edit]