In June of 1980, I was talking on the telephone with the girl who used to live next door to us in Madison Heights, MI. At the time, I didn’t know it would be the last time I’d ever speak to her, but that’s neither here nor there.
The thing is, we grew up together. She was like a sister to me. And during that telephone call, she planted a seed that grew to change my life.
With her birthday in early June, and my birthday in mid-June, she was telling me that she got a couple of new records. Since I already liked music A LOT, I asked which records she got.
“Van Halen’s ‘Women and Children First’, and Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’,” she said.
I hadn’t heard either one, as they both had recently been released. In fact, I had never heard of Van Halen at that point, but I had heard Pink Floyd.
A couple of years earlier, when we had gone to visit my uncle and aunt, I got my first taste of Pink Floyd. The opening strains of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” FLOORED me, and the rest of the album had me mesmerized.
So because my former next door neighbor got those two albums for her birthday, I decided that I needed to have them for MY birthday, a week or two later.
I wasn’t disappointed. “Women and Children First” was a killer introduction to a band that would change rock and roll forever.
But it was “The Wall” that I played over and over. And over. And over.
I think it was the 135th time I played that album that I started “getting it”. It really started resonating with me. I really understood the concept behind it, and that understanding led to deeper and deeper levels of appreciation of the album.
I acquired “The Dark Side of the Moon” shortly afterwards, and kinda dug it. Then, at a family get together, my uncle said that he used to listen to “Dark Side” with his buddies “in the old days”. I was intrigued!
Eventually, my uncle gave me his copy of “Wish You Were Here”. Many would say that by this time, I had the holy trinity of Pink Floyd albums. But I still wasn’t full-blown gonzo on the band.
My freshman year in college, I was at a party, sitting next to the radio. Roger Waters, Pink Floyd’s bassist, was touring in support of his first solo album, and a commercial for the tour came on. The radio spot played bits and pieces of classic Floyd songs, and it all started to resonate with me.
I went back to my dorm room, and fueled with alcohol and a sudden desire to space out, I threw on “Wish You Were Here”, and it was like I had never heard it before. Over and over, I played my three Pink Floyd albums, no doubt driving everyone crazy. But I was a junkie, needing my fix.
Shortly afterwards, I bought “Meddle”, and fell in love with that album. Again, I played it over and over.
My Pink Floyd addiction got worse and worse. Soon, I had “Animals”, and a bootleg recording of “Live at Pompeii”. I bought cassette tapes of their early stuff, and absorbed all of it. Then, in the late 1980s, when CDs became popular, the first one I bought was “Atom Heart Mother”.
Pink Floyd had stopped touring in 1980, after “The Wall” concerts. I never had a chance to see them.But, in 1988, the remaining members toured sans Roger Waters. I saw them twice on that tour. I bought their live video tapes, and collected every legal form of their music and then some.
In 1994, the band released another album, and I saw them in concert in three different cities on that tour.
By this time, “The Wall” had become my least favorite Pink Floyd album. I had heard it so many times, I felt that I could sing it in my sleep. My favorite songs were the ones they never played on the radio – anything off the “Animals” album, the “Meddle” album, and the epic “Echoes”.
The advent of the internet made bootleg copies more and more available, and I was in – hook, line, and sinker!
Looking back over the last 37 1/2 years, Pink Floyd was easily the biggest part of the soundtrack to my life. Even today, I downloaded some old live versions of their music.
Sometimes, I will turn on something of theirs, and I won’t even remember hearing it, because it is all so familiar to me. It’s like walking down the hallway of your house, not even realizing the color of the walls, because you see it all the time.
Sometimes, I will bob my head to the jams and really feel it. I will think of where I was when I first heard the song. I will think of my uncle, and appreciate him and the gift of music that he gave me. Sometimes, I will simply stop whatever I’m doing, and listen. Deeply. In my heart.
My love of Pink Floyd has given me amazing moments with family members and friends. I remember hanging out with college friends eagerly watching the video for “Live at Pompeii” for the first time. I remember making a trip to Ann Arbor to see the odd movie “Zabriskie Point” because Pink Floyd performed the soundtrack.
When I moved to Las Vegas, my mom came out for a visit. We drove two hours to Death Valley, and stopped at a few places to take pictures. One of those places? Zabriskie Point.
I recall many years ago, cranking out various Pink Floyd tunes while drinking beers with my sister and contemplating life. I took my mentor and friend, George Clark, to see Roger Waters with my uncle and his family. And in 2017, my brother and I saw Roger Waters perform in Greensboro, NC, which was an amazing experience for both of us.
Sometimes, as a writer, I write my stories, and poetry, and essays and such, and throw them against the wall to see if they stick. I wonder if these entities of my creative matter will inspire and become as important to someone else like Pink Floyd inspired me.
Human interactions are like spiderwebs – a tug on one end will cause movement on another end. And the vibrations of those two will affect another web. And it’s in this sense, that I bare my soul, and share the story of my addiction to the Pink Floyd.
Civilization is based on story-telling. And through sharing our stories, and sharing ourselves, we can affect the planet. When my former next door neighbor shared with me what she got for her birthday, and when my uncle shared with me some tunes that he loved, they changed my life for the better.