9/16/08

Goodbye Richard Wright

Richard Wright (28 July 1943 - 15 September 2008) died of cancer yesterday. He was the keyboardist for Pink Floyd, and oftentimes their singer and songwriter. Although he is not as well known as Gilmour, Waters and the notorious Barrett, he was nonetheless an integral part of the group. But don't take my word for it...

David Gilmour, Pink Floyd's guitarist and singer, said in a statement Monday: "In the welter of arguments about who or what was Pink Floyd, Rick's enormous input was frequently forgotten. He was gentle, unassuming and private but his soulful voice and playing were vital, magical components of our most recognized Pink Floyd sound."
- International Herald Tribune

In fact, some of my favorite songs by the band were Wright compositions. His ability to evoke images from childhood, both strange and surreal, were extraordinary. "Remember a Day" is a psychedelic fairy tale masterpiece. You can watch the YouTube video here, but I didn't embed it because, while you see the other members of the band clowning around, you don't really see Wright in the performance.


Remember a Day - Pink Floyd


"Remember a Day"

Remember a day before today
A day when you were young.
Free to play alone with time
Evening never came.
Sing a song that can't be sung
Without the morning's kiss
Queen - you shall be it if you wish
Look for your king
Why can't we play today?
Why can't we stay that way?
Climb your favorite apple tree
Try to catch the sun
Hide from your little brother's gun
Dream yourself away
Why can't we reach the sun?
Why can't we blow the years away?
Blow away
Blow away
Remember
Remember....

Another great Wright composition was "Paintbox". This time it's not a surrealistic vision of childhood, but of adulthood - and it's just as brilliant.


Paintbox
- Pink Floyd


"Paintbox"

Last night I had too much to drink
Sitting in a club with so many fools
Playing to rules
Trying to impress but feeling rather empty
I had another drink
Drink - a - drink - a - drink - a - drink
What a way to spend that evening
They all turn up with their friends
Playing the game
But in the scene I should have been
Far away
Away - away - away - away - away
Getting up, I feel as if I'm remembering this scene before
I open the door to an empty room
Then I forget
The telephone rings and someone speaks
She would very much like to go out to a show
So what can I do - I can't think what to say
She sees through anyway
Away - away - away - away - away
Out of the front door I go
Traffic's moving rather slow
Arriving late, there she waits
Looking very angry, as cross as she can be
Be - a - be - a - be - a - be - a - be
Getting up, I feel as if I'm remembering this scene before
I open the door to an empty room
Then I forget

Obviously, I'm partial to Floyd's earlier work, and Wright actually wrote less as the years went on, focusing more on the instruments. However, Wright still brought a couple of gems to the table on Dark Side of the Moon: "Us and Them" and "The Great Big Gig in the Sky".

I really like his voice. His gentle tone lent a sort of dark atmosphere to early Floyd recordings like the aforementioned "Remember a Day" and the Syd Barrett composition "Matilda Mother":


Matilda Mother (Stereo) (2007 Remaster) - Pink Floyd


I don't know about you, but when I read the lyrics to "Remember a Day", I can't help but think of how fitting it is to this sad day. A whole new element to the song has opened up for me, one of mortality and the brevity of human life. That a song can affect people on a deep level both in lyric and sound is a testament to the talent of its author. I raise my glass to Mr. Wright, and here's to hoping he's climbing that favorite apple tree.


From left: Richard Wright, David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Roger Waters

3 comments:

  1. My mom sent a message about Richard dying. She was the 1st to tell me about John Lennon as well. he was understated and not a flashy keyboardist like Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman or Jon Lord but his style was well suited for Pink Floyd. I like the early stuff too and have those songs here and will get them out later and play them. I understand that later Roger Waters had conflicts with Wright and even wanted him fired, adding the rift in the band before Waters finally left. Wright went off on his own but was welcomed back in to the new Floyd by the less mercurial David Gilmore.

    I liked his solo spotlight stuff on the double album Ummagumma (the spelling may be wrong, where each member took a turn at their own thing.

    A nice voice too, as you said, that faded into the background after the band bvecame under the control more and more of waters after Dark Side of the Moon.

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  2. Hey there. I was sad to hear of Richard Wright's passing. What a talent. I've always been a fan of his and Pink Floyd. He will be sorely missed. R.I.P.

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  3. It was a sad day indeed when Rick left us. What an inventive and trippy keyboard player. His amazing music lives forever. Check out my homage to the master at http://guitardad.weebly.com/1/post/2008/09/rock-world-loses-keyboard-mastermind.html

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