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
Released 12 September 1975 (album)
Recorded January–July 1975
Producer Pink Floyd
Wish You Were Here track listing

"Wish You Were Here" is the title track on Pink Floyd's 1975 album Wish You Were Here.[1][2] Its lyrics encompass Roger Waters' feelings of alienation from other people and his distrust for the music industry. Like most of the album, it refers to former Pink Floyd member Syd Barrett and his breakdown. David Gilmour and Waters collaborated to write the music, and Gilmour sang the lead vocal. On June 14, 2013, the song was released as an unofficial promotional single on Spotify and when fans streamed it one million times, which happened after only four days, the rest of the band's catalogue was released.

In 2011, the song was ranked No. 324 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[3]


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 Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony), and finally to a new station where "Wish You Were Here" is beginning.[4] 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, becoming joined by the full band.[5]

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". The song is in the key of G major.

The song includes the line: "Can you tell a green field/From a cold steel rail?", which is a reference to Syd Barrett's solo song, "If It's In You", from The Madcap Laughs album ("Hold you tighter so close/Yes you are/Please hold on to the steel rail").[citation needed]


'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. Ultimately during mixing it was decided to almost remove his contribution, although it can just be heard around 5:21. His contribution is barely audible and he was not credited. According to Waters it was decided that it would be insulting to credit him for something so inaudible in the sleeve notes, although reportedly some group members did not realise the playing had been kept in any form.[6][7] According to Waters, he received the agreed fee of £300. Grapelli was gay, and Gilmour has recalled being amused by Grapelli flirting with them during the session and enthusiastically haggling over the pay-rate.[8]

As part of the Why Pink Floyd...? campaign, the Experience and Immersion versions of the Wish You Were Here album include an alternate version of the song where Grapelli'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.

The master tape of the original recording includes an entire performance of pedal steel guitar, played by David Gilmour, that was not used in the final mix.[citation needed]

Live performances[edit]

"Wish You Were Here" made its stage debut on the band's 1977 tour, which featured a performance of the entire album at every show. It was not played live by the band for nearly ten years after this, yet became a concert staple after its reappearance in 1987, and was performed at nearly all subsequent Pink Floyd concerts. In the original 1977 concert performances, Gilmour would play his Fender Stratocaster instead of acoustic guitar, while Snowy White played a twelve-string Ovation acoustic guitar. At these shows, Nick Mason tuned an actual transistor radio on stage to a local radio station, seguing into the pre-recorded part from the album to start the song and Richard Wright would perform an extended piano coda as the wind effects played. A live version is included on Pulse. When Pink Floyd were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,[9] Gilmour and Wright (Mason was in the audience) performed the song with the assistance of their presenter Billy Corgan on rhythm guitar.

"Wish You Were Here" was performed by Ed Sheeran with Mason on drums, Mike Rutherford of Genesis on guitar and Richard Jones of The Feeling on bass at the Closing Ceremony of 2012 Summer Olympics in London. A performer, dressed in a suit, tightrope-walked across the stadium and shook hands with a mannequin at the end, which then burst into flames, referencing the album's cover.

On 13 December 2014 David 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".

Other recorded versions by Pink Floyd[edit]

"Wish You Were Here" later appeared as the fifth track on A Collection of Great Dance Songs (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[10] (with the radio intro following "Arnold Layne", and at the end crossfading with "Jugband Blues").

A live recording included on the 1995 live album P•U•L•S•E 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".

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.[11][12]



Chart (2007) Peak
Norway (VG-lista)[13] 18
Chart (2012) Peak
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[14] 48
France (SNEP)[15] 192
Germany (Media Control AG)[16] 67
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[17] 68

Wish You Were Here (Live)[edit]

"Wish You Were Here (Live)"
Single by Pink Floyd
from the album Pulse
Released 20 July 1995
Recorded 20 September (Cinecittà, Rome), 1994
  • Capitol (US)
  • EMI (UK)
  • Roger Waters
  • David Gilmour
Certification Gold (FIMI)[18]
Pink Floyd singles chronology
"High Hopes" / "Keep Talking"
"Wish You Were Here (Live)"
"Louder than Words"

"Wish You Were Here (Live)" is a live recording of Pink Floyd's title track off their ninth studio album Wish You Were Here, recorded by the band for their third live album, Pulse. "Wish You Were Here (Live)" was released as a single on 20 July 1995 in the United Kingdom and Europe, notably the very last single released by the band until October 2014.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Wish You Were Here (Live)"   5:40
2. "Coming Back to Life (Live)"   6:40
CD Maxi[20]
No. Title Length
1. "Wish You Were Here (Live)"   5:40
2. "Keep Talking (Live)"   6:54
Netherlands promotional single[21]
No. Title Length
1. "Wish You Were Here (Live)"   5:40


Chart (1995) Peak
US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks[22] 13

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label Catalog no.
Netherlands[23] 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
B-side "No Woman, No Cry"
Released 3 December 2001
Recorded 2000
Length 4:06
Label Columbia
  • 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 Wyclef Jean's second studio album, The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book. It was released in December 2001, peaking at #28 on the UK Singles Chart.[24]

UK CD Single (672156 2)
  1. "Wish You Were Here" (Radio edit) – 4:04
  2. "No Woman, No Cry" (Live version) – 4:33
  3. "911" (Live version) – 4:23
  4. "Wish You Were Here" (Video) – 4:25
UK Cassette (672156 5)
  1. "Wish You Were Here" (LP version) – 4:25
  2. "Perfect Gentleman" (Remix radio edit) – 3:59

Other covers[edit]

Irish rock band Aslan perform a live cover of the song. In an interview with David Gilmour he cited this performance as his favorite cover of the song.

English alternative rock band Catherine Wheel recorded a cover version and released it on their 1996 compilation album Like Cats and Dogs.

Electronic group Tangerine Dream recorded a cover on their CD Under Cover – Chapter One.

Thom Yorke of Radiohead sings part of a cover with Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous. Yorke sang his part on the telephone from his hotel room. The track originally appeared on a CD of EMI artists covering songs by other EMI artists.

The joint venture of Los Coronas and Arizona Baby covered the song in their 2011 live album Dos Bandas y un Destino.[25]

Alpha Blondy has a reggae version in which he uses a Scottish horn in line with the Rhythm guitar.

Indie rock band The Antlers performed a version of the song in June 2010 for The A.V. Club's A.V. Undercover series.[26]

British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran performed a cover of this song at the Closing Ceremonies of the London Olympic Games in 2012 with Mike Rutherford, Richard Jones, David Arnold and Nick Mason on drums.[27]

The Paraguayan band The Generation recorded a version for their EP Box Of Memories.[28]

On 14 November 2014 the song was performed by Susan Boyle on BBC One as part of their Children In Need charity appeal programme.

American grindcore band Brutal Truth released a cover of the song on their 1994 album Need to Control.[29]

American nu metal band Limp Bizkit and John Rzeznik perform a cover of this song.

American/Canadian Celtic rock band the American Rogues has regularly performed the song live for years, with piano replacing the 12-string guitar and violin replacing the solo guitar. At the end the band seques into the Irish jig, Calliope House.


  1. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2004). The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate Books. p. 1177. ISBN 1-84195-551-5. 
  2. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X. 
  3. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time: Pink Floyd, 'Wish You Were Here'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  4. ^ The Absolute sound, Volume 18, Issues 87-90 p.113. Retrieved 9 September 2011
  5. ^ 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).
  6. ^ Richard, Metzger (26 April 2013), "Wish You Were Here: Pink Floyd Jam with Stéphane Grappelli, 1975", Dangerous Minds, retrieved 27 April 2013 
  7. ^ . ISBN 1617133949.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ 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. 'It was terrific fun, though,' recalled Gilmour. 'Avoiding his wandering hands.' 
  9. ^ Pink Floyd, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1996.
  10. ^ "Echoes: the album credits". Pink Floyd. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  11. ^ Povey, Glenn. (2007) Echoes: the complete history of Pink Floyd Mind Head Publishing, Retrieved 9 September 2011
  12. ^ Pink Floyd Visionary Syd Barrett Dies At 60 Billboard 22 Jul 2006. p.46. Retrieved 9 September 2011
  13. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here". VG-lista.
  14. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  15. ^ "Lescharts.com – Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here" (in French). Les classement single.
  16. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet". 
  17. ^ "Pink Floyd: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company.
  18. ^ "Italian single certifications – Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 2013-01-28.  Select Online in the field Sezione. Enter Pink Floyd in the field Filtra. The certification will load automatically
  19. ^ "Wish You Were Here (Live) (CD, Single)". Pink Floyd. Discogs. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  20. ^ "Wish You Were Here (Live) (CD, Maxi-Single)". Pink Floyd. Discogs. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  21. ^ "Wish You Were Here (Live) (CD, Single, Promo)". Pink Floyd. Discogs. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  22. ^ "Artist Chart History (Singles) – Pink Floyd". Allmusic. Retrieved 26 July 2007. 
  23. ^ "Netherlands CD Singles". Pink Floyd Discography Archive. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  24. ^ UK Singles — 1952–2011, UK/US Charts
  25. ^ Prunes, Mariano. "Dos Bandas y un Destino: El Concierto - Arizona Baby, Los Coronas : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 September 2012. 
  26. ^ "The Antlers cover Pink Floyd". Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  27. ^ http://www.capitalfm.com/artists/ed-sheeran/news/olympics-closing-ceremony/
  28. ^ http://www.abc.com.py/edicion-impresa/artes-espectaculos/lanzan-hoy-cd-de-rock-acustico-1211506.html/ Retrieved 4 February 2014
  29. ^ Wish You Were Here...Wish You'd Go Away. Allmusic.

External links[edit]