|"Shine On You Crazy Diamond"|
The single edit of Part I
|Composition by Pink Floyd|
|from the album Wish You Were Here|
|Published||Pink Floyd Music Publishers Ltd|
|Released||15 September 1975|
|Studio||Abbey Road Studios (Studio One, Two, and Three)|
|Length||26:00 (All parts)|
13:32 (Parts I-V)
12:28 (Parts VI-IX)
3:53 (Single edit)
The song was conceived and written as a tribute and remembrance to their former band member Syd Barrett, a founding member of Pink Floyd. Barrett was ousted from the band by the other members in 1968 due to his drug use and (partly-related) troubled mental health, which had affected his ability to integrate with the rest of the band and perform and create as a musician. He was replaced by David Gilmour, Barrett's former school friend who had initially been brought in as second guitar. The remaining band members felt guilty for removing him, but they viewed it as necessary, admiring Barrett's creativity and being concerned about his severe mental decline. The work was first performed on their 1974 French tour and recorded for their 1975 concept album Wish You Were Here. It was intended to be a side-long composition (like "Atom Heart Mother" and "Echoes") but was split into two sections and used to bookend the album, with new material composed that was more relevant to the album and to the situation in which the band found themselves.
Bassist Roger Waters commented, as the sessions were underway, that "at times the group was there only physically. Our bodies were there, but our minds and feelings somewhere else." Eventually an idea was raised to split the epic in two, Parts I-V and Parts VI-IX.
According to guitarist David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason on the Wish You Were Here episode of In the Studio with Redbeard, Pink Floyd recorded a satisfactory take of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" but because of a new mixing console which was installed at Abbey Road Studios, it needed to be re-recorded because excessive 'bleed' from other instruments could be heard on the drum tracks as explained by Gilmour,
We originally did the backing track over the course of several days, but we came to the conclusion that it just wasn't good enough. So we did it again in one day flat and got it a lot better. Unfortunately nobody understood the desk properly and when we played it back we found that someone had switched the echo returns from monitors to tracks one and two. That affected the tom-toms and guitars and keyboards which were playing along at the time. There was no way of saving it, so we just had to do it yet again.
On part 3, a piano part seems to have been added "live" to the final mix, making it absent from multitrack masters. That part was re-recorded at British Grove Studios by pianist Richard Wright during the multi-channel mix used for the album Immersion Edition and the SACD release.
Nick Mason said:
With the invention of 16-track and 2-inch tape there was the belief for quite a while that there would be something wrong with editing tape that big. Consequently whenever we played these pieces, they had to be played from beginning to end. Particularly for Roger [Waters] and myself being the rhythm section, which would be laid down first, this was [chuckling] a fairly tough business because the whole thing had to be sort of right.
One day during recording, Barrett (now heavyset, with a completely shaved head and eyebrows) wandered into the studio (although Mason has since stated that he is not entirely certain whether "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" was the particular work being recorded when Barrett was there). Because of his drastically changed appearance, the band did not recognize him for some time. When they eventually determined the withdrawn man in the corner was Barrett, Roger Waters became so distressed about Barrett's appearance he was reduced to tears. Someone asked to play the suite again for Barrett and he said a second playback was not needed when they had just heard it. When asked what he thought of the song, Barrett said it sounded a "bit old". He subsequently slipped away during celebrations for Gilmour's wedding to Ginger Hasenbein, which took place later that day. Gilmour confirmed this story, although he could not recall which composition they were working on when Barrett showed up.
The episode is resumed by Wright as follows:
Roger was there, and he was sitting at the desk, and I came in and I saw this guy sitting behind him - huge, bald, fat guy. I thought, "He looks a bit... strange..." Anyway, so I sat down with Roger at the desk and we worked for about ten minutes, and this guy kept on getting up and brushing his teeth and then sitting - doing really weird things, but keeping quiet. And I said to Roger, "Who is he?" and Roger said "I don't know." and I said "Well, I assumed he was a friend of yours," and he said "No, I don't know who he is." Anyway, it took me a long time, and then suddenly I realised it was Syd, after maybe 45 minutes. He came in as we were doing the vocals for "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", which was basically about Syd. He just, for some incredible reason picked the very day that we were doing a song which was about him. And we hadn't seen him, I don't think, for two years before. That's what's so incredibly... weird about this guy. And a bit disturbing, as well, I mean, particularly when you see a guy, that you don't, you couldn't recognize him. And then, for him to pick the very day we want to start putting vocals on, which is a song about him. Very strange.
The song series was first performed as "Shine On", during the band's French tour in June 1974. It was introduced as "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" on the British tour in November 1974. The set was originally performed as one whole suite with some of the parts differing from the album versions, and samplings of Barrett's solo song "Dark Globe" during the opening of the performance. The version from the British tour was included on the 2011 Experience and Immersion editions of Wish You Were Here. The multi-part version of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" was first performed on the band's 1975 North American tour with "Have a Cigar" in between the two halves of the piece. The 1975 versions were close to the final versions, except parts one and nine were still not refined yet. The band performed the whole nine-part "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" as part of the Wish You Were Here portion of their 1977 In the Flesh Tour, with extra musicians White on guitar and backing vocals and Parry on saxophones.
Parts I-V became a staple of Floyd's performances from 1987-94. The track opened shows for most of the A Momentary Lapse of Reason tour of 1987-89 and the tour closing performance at Knebworth in 1990 with Candy Dulfer on saxophone. The first eleven performances had "Echoes" as the show opener before the band proceeded to play all of A Momentary Lapse of Reason in the rest of the first half in a slightly different sequence to the album. A condensed edition of the track (without the Gilmour solo in Part III) would then open the second half of the shows on the group's 1994 The Division Bell tour (documented on Pulse) except on shows where all of The Dark Side of the Moon was performed when "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" opened the first half and in the last month and a half of the tour the band added part VII to Parts I-V. A similar version was also played during David Gilmour's Rattle That Lock Tour in 2015 with the according screen film on display.
Gilmour performed almost the whole suite (save part IX) at his 2001 and 2002 semi-unplugged concerts (documented on his 2002 David Gilmour in Concert DVD). "There was," he said, "a moment of thinking, 'Shall I attempt an acoustic guitar version of the long, synthesised opening?' It came to me one day how I could do it, and it worked out not too badly."
Gilmour performed parts I-II and IV-V (in a new arrangement) on his 2006 On an Island solo tour. Part III was omitted and Parts I and II were simplified and more guitar-focused. Gilmour performed Parts I-V on his Live in Gda?sk album on disc two and on the DVD in the four-disc edition of the album. The five-disc edition and the online downloads available in the three and four-disc editions include Parts I-V recorded in Venice and Vienne in 2006. In many of his performances, solo and with Pink Floyd, Gilmour alters the vocal melody to avoid the higher notes that were originally sung by Waters.
Waters has also performed the epic on his 1999 and 2000 tours documented on his In the Flesh - Live album and DVD which was a condensed parts I, II, IV, VI, VII, and IX. Part VI on these performances had a lap steel solo from Jon Carin then guitar solos from Doyle Bramhall II and White. Then on Waters' 2002 tour, he played all nine parts like on record (although part VIII was shortened). An abridged version of parts I-V was performed on Waters' 2006-07 The Dark Side of the Moon Live tour.
Three different edited versions of the composition have appeared on compilation albums:
The version on this compilation album was cut significantly. Parts III, V, VI, VIII and IX were dropped completely. Parts IV and VII are linked by the guitar solo from earlier in Part IV. Lastly, the riff that links Parts VII and VIII is repeated several times as the song segues into the introductory radio passage from "Wish You Were Here".
The version on this compilation album was also cut, but less significantly. The guitar solo on Part III was dropped. Part VI was shortened. Parts VIII and IX were dropped completely. Linking Parts V and VI is the sound of wind. These are the same wind effects used to bridge "Wish You Were Here" to Part VI of "Diamond" on the original LP. Finally, the riff that links Parts VII and VIII is repeated several times as the song segues into the introductory passage of clocks of "Time".
This version was also cut. Parts VI-IX were dropped completely. Part I was shortened. The guitar solo on Part III was dropped. The saxophone on Part V has an early fade-out. Finally, the machine-like hum that segues into "Welcome to the Machine" in the original album was dropped, the song simply stops and "Brain Damage" begins.
"Shine On You Crazy Diamond" features on all the below releases:
The same track is used in a joke in the third episode ("Fit the Third") of the radio comedy The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It is heard in the background, and then one of the characters comments that "Marvin [an android] can hum just like Pink Floyd". Again, the music was cut from commercial releases.
The extended instrumental introduction (from the original album version) was used in the last scenes of Good Morning, Night, a 2003 Italian movie about the 1978 Aldo Moro kidnapping and assassination.
In the Japanese manga JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, the protagonist Josuke Higashikata's Stand is named Crazy Diamond. In the English-language version of the anime adaptation and other official media following its release, the Stand is named Shining Diamond to avoid copyright issues.
Steve Lukather of Toto performed a cover of the song on the tribute album An All Star Lineup Performing the Songs of Pink Floyd (2002).
Italian prog-rock band Elio e le Storie Tese performed a faithful cover of parts I-III live in 2017, ending it as soon as Elio sings the word "Shine" for the first time, which he turns into "Sciao" - Venetian for "Ciao", i.e. "Hello".
As far as the Floyd selection here, not a bad choice - a nice performance of "Shine On", with a lovely solo from the Dutch saxophonist Candy Dulfer, and "Run Like Hell", which ended the concert.