Why I Thought Pink Floyd Was The Stupidest Band In The World

They're at it again...Floyd floating pigs around like there's no tomorrow.

They’re at it again…Floyd floating pigs around like there’s no tomorrow.

Time for another confession. As the headline rather screams out, I used to think Pink Floyd was the stupidest band of all time. I don’t mean slightly silly, or partly potty. I mean really stupid. Stupider than the guy who told Goliath that the little kid with a sling was a terrible shot. Dumber than the bloke who told Bambi’s mum “just stand there – you’ll be well hidden from view…”

I don’t mean I thought they were the worst band ever. I hadn’t heard any of their actual songs, apart from Another Brick In The Wall Pt 2, which featured a catchy rebellious chorus sung by schoolchildren. “We don’t need no education” they sang, and I thought “Well – your grammar would suggest otherwise”. (I was an insufferable nine year old I am sure). Having heard nothing else by them at this tender age, I mentally filed them as a slightly edgier St Winifred’s School Choir.

St Winifred's School Choir. Which one's Pink?

St Winifred’s School Choir. Which one’s Pink?

However, by 1986 I began to enjoy a bit of prog rock – because it meant I was intelligent (or so I thought) – and so should really have liked Floyd. I loved Marillion and (this was the late eighties) Genesis were fronted by that other legend of cool, Phil Collins (no, really). I had no reason not to like Pink Floyd. I didn’t know that punk had come along in 1976 and had pointed out in no uncertain terms that a world without prog rock would be a better world for everyone, especially for those who liked wearing safety pins through their noses and gobbing on people.

I avoided Pink Floyd for a long time because I had a friend who would tell me fantastic and rather muddled tales about what this legendary band had done. And all the tales made Pink Floyd sound like a bunch of day patients let loose from a local Care In The Community programme.

“Listen to this – it’s a song about a sheep…”

“…all the songs on this album are about farmyard animals…”

“The cover of this album is just a picture of a cow…”

“Before their show, they crash a plane onstage…”

“They’re great – they once floated a pig over London…”

“When they play live, they build a wall between the band and the stage so you can’t see them…”

“One other thing they do is float a bed above the heads of the crowd. It’s amazing…”

The common theme with all these ideas when they were described to me by my friend (who had heard it all third hand and wasn’t clear on all the details) is that they sounded a) stupid, b) pointless, c) rather overly obsessed with farmyard animals, and d) a colossal waste of time and energy:

“They flew a bed over the heads of the audience on a wire? Why?”

“Well…er, it’s a concept album

“A concept about bed linen? What’s wrong with fireworks and lasers? A flying four-poster? What’s next? A dancing divan? A floating futon?Levitating Lilos? Is their next concept album going to be about other bedroom furniture? Perhaps a Narnian wardrobe? A dressing table? Tatami mats? Where does it all end?”

“Well, er…”

“And The Wall: let’s get this straight: as the concert goes on, you end up not being able to see the band?”

“Er…well yes, I think so…”

“So what’s the point of paying money to see the band if there’s a bloody great wall in the way? How do we know they haven’t sloped off for a cigarette and they’ve just put the record on?”

“Er, well, the pig was pretty cool though wasn’t it?”

“Was it? Why are they floating pigs pointlessly in the air? It all just sounds like they’ve been doing too many drugs and have too much time on their hands.”

“And the crashing aeroplane?”

“It was a real one was it?”

“Well yes… I think so.”

“They’re lucky they didn’t kill anyone! What are they doing?! I mean, what is the point?! They’re hippies! They’re not punks – why are they destroying things?”

Even those amazing Hipgnosis album covers put me off: Derelict power stations, beds taken out of hospitals, people burning in the street and mad cows. The only other time you ever saw those things together was during Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister…

Of course, I don’t think Pink Floyd ever did crash an actual plane onstage. The start of an album he played me (I haven’t been able to work out which one) sounds like they do, but I suspect by then my friend was becoming confused – on the basis that if they were crazy enough to float pigs above power stations, they were probably the sort of people who would think nothing of crashing a fully manned 747 on stage just for the fun of it. As far as he was concerned, that’s probably just how they rolled…

Record #160: Pink Floyd – Echoes



Categories: Rock Music

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32 replies

  1. Dark Side of the Moon was the greatest album ever. Citizen Caine was the greatest movie ever. John Lennon’s Imagine is the best track of all time. All of these have been stated as facts at one time or another, and of course none of them is true. Somehow, Pink Floyd achieved cult status even among people who don’t know the music.
    I love this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K499HpGF46E – David Bowie as guest vocalist on Arnold Layne at a David Gilmour gig. (I wasn’t there.)

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  2. I don’t know what shocks me most – you thinking Pink Floyd were stupid or you loving Marillion. I’m a big fan of both Dark Side and Wish You Were Here, although I probably play Obscured By Clouds more than either of these. For my money (grab that cash with both hands and make a stash), More is a really good album too.

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  3. I was never into them at all. I used to think it was all too sleepy and boring even though I liked loads of other prog bands. I have finally got into them in the last few years… I’ve got about 6 of their albums now and think they’re pretty good if somewhat overrated.

    …pretty sure they flew some kind of plane into the stage though. Probably just an Airfix though,

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  4. Great job.
    The Floyd is full of mysteries.

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  5. I had a couple of friends in high school who showed me the light. To this day, Meddle remains my favorite…

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  6. I played the “Animals” album in the car one time, my ex-wife said it was music to slice your wrists to. Strange, I never wanted to do that, but my head is now screaming out comparisons to some of the things that Ozzy was accused of back in the 80s. I think artists let this hype out for publicity reasons.

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  7. I really can’t say that I “enjoy” Pink Floyd or that they’re “stupid.” I will say that I always found them to be instrumentally genius … with just a touch of wrist slicing.

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  8. Thanks for posting that! I was wondering where you were going with the “stupid” tag, and then it all made sense. Well told, very entertaining story.

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  9. I like this post. Even though I’ve been a HUGE Floyd fan since I first bought Animals in 1977 when I was 11, I took no offense. FYI, you can easily hear the majority of their best albums in a short amount of time, since most of them are no longer than 40 minutes. Some artists’ catalogs are so inpenetrable both for the number of releases and the interminable running time of each record.

    As for you being a Marillion fan, there’s nothing to apologize for. A great band that doesn’t get much respect but has a fiercely loyal fan base.

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  10. “Derelict power stations, beds taken out of hospitals, people burning in the street and mad cows. The only other time you ever saw those things together was during Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister…”
    Seriously the funniest thing I’ve read in over a month, at least! And, hey, I still like Marillian–not really the post Fish stuff, though (and Genesis, for that matter!)!!

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  11. Totally agree with the overview of the most overrated rock band of all time. Floyd were finished after Syd Barrett left them. DSOTM is a pale joke compared to Can’s “Tago Mago”,
    Todd Rundgren’s “A Wizard, A True Star”, Frank Zappa’s “Hot Rats” or the greatest Prog
    Rock album of all time, King Crimson’s “Court Of The Crimson King”. I heard “Great Gig
    In The Sky” recently, and it sounded like the soundtrack to a cheap Italian porn movie.

    I hated them then and I hate them now. They only made one album of note, and that
    is their iconic debut album. Give me Hawkwind’s “Space Ritual” anytime of the day….

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  12. Funny and entertaining write-up, but I was disappointed not to find the reasons for why you actually like them. You say you were wrong in thinking Pink Floyd were stupid, but don’t actually say why.

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  13. Here’s the secret: stick with the Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd material; it’s far more honest psychedelia than the mushy pseudo-mysticism that followed.

    Sure, “Dark side of the moon” is a work of genius as far as studio production and whatnot, but Barrett’s wacky tangents had all of the fun and none of the pomposity of Gilmour’s reign of terror.

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  14. I think I understand where you’re coming from. Having heard stories around Pink Floyd, I’ve always judged them from afar, until I listened to the Division Bell album (by accident) and enjoyed it, and would now class myself as a bit of a fan!

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  15. Listen to Pink Floyd’s early music with the late Syd Barrett, I first heard them in 1973 when Capital Radio played the single See Emily Play. Then when Syd was no longer in the band, the rest of the band still missed him. But there was references to him in various tracks on different albums. Brain Damage from Dark Side of the Moon, Shine on You Crazy Diamond and Wish You Were Here, (it is believed that Syd Barrett came into the studio while this was being recorded) from Wish You Were Here. The Animals album was inspired by the book Animal Farm, where the pigs were in charge. The Wall was about alienation, and the isolation of “Pink” from his fans so built up a wall around him. If you missed the live shows now performed by Roger Waters, you could always watch the film on DVD with Bob Geldof as Pink. The song High Hopes from The Division Bell seems to be a biographical look at Pink Floyd especially if you watch the official video, there is a very good Syd Barrett look alike in it. And it was filmed in Cambridge where Pink Floyd started out.

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    • Thanks for this. You are right – and I am pleased to say my appreciation of Floyd has greatly increased over the years, not least by truffling through those early albums, and also when I saw The Wall at the 02 – the night Gilmour came onstage to play “Conformably Numb”. (That was a good night – there were people with tears in their eyes)…
      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

      Like

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