Rolling Stone-Magazine March 12, 2003

David Gilmour

What's your recollection of how Dark Side of the Moon concept was born?

I really can't remember exactly how it happened -- just that at some point, Roger came in and said that instead of just one or two lyrics for individual songs that we had already been working on, he had got an idea that was going to run through the whole album. We had done that before, but mostly in one very long song: "Echoes," on the previous album, Meddle, was a whole side of a record, and was a piece put together from various little sections -- but there was one cohesive lyric. This one was a series of different lyrics that had a theme running through them.

Having Roger coming up with a cohesive idea of what the whole thing was going to be about was very good. We had explored some of that area before, when we did a thing called "The Man and the Journey," which was a live thing we did in 1969. That was the story of the life of a person. But I think we all thought -- and Roger definitely thought -- that a lot of the lyrics that we had been using were a little too indirect. There was a definitely a feeling that the words were going to be very clear and specific. That was a big leap forward.

You've said in the past that your contribution to the writing of the material wasn't that great . . .

We all go up and down a little bit, and we have more creative periods and less creative periods. And looking back, at the time of the writing sessions, I wasn't running on all cylinders. I helped to write several songs, but I didn't write a "Comfortably Numb" or a "Wish You Were Here" for that album. I wasn't as creative as I might have been. I think I pulled my weight in the studio in terms of the production, the playing, the arranging, and all that sort of stuff -- but in the early rehearsal stages, something wasn't jelling.

Looking back, what do you think defined your creative relationship with Roger?

It's very hard to analyze what makes things work. Roger had fantastic drive, and a very good brain for lyrics. He was a very driving, creative force. And I suppose I would say that I had a much better sense of musicality that he did. I could certainly sing in tune much better [laughs].

Where did it begin to go wrong?

I don't believe that our creative life together stopped around [Dark Side of the Moon]. I think that Wish You Were Here was as good an album, and in some ways better than Dark Side of the Moon. And although it's not generally believed, we did have a very constructive working relationship though the making of The Wall. It fell apart rather after that.

What are your memories of recording the female vocals on "The Great Gig in the Sky"?

Clare Torry [session singer] didn't really look the part. She was Alan Parsons' idea. We wanted to put a girl on there, screaming orgasmically. Alan had worked with her previously, so we gave her try. And she was fantastic. We had to encourage her a little bit. We gave her some dynamic hints: "Maybe you'd like to do this piece quietly, and this piece louder." She did maybe half a dozen takes, and then afterwards we compiled the final performance out of all the bits. It wasn't done in one single take.

What did she look like?

Like a nice English housewife.

One of Pink Floyd's styles that rarely attracts comment is the R&B influence you can hear on "Money."

I was always trying to put a bit of that into things. I was constantly trying to get Nick to learn new drum patterns and get slightly funkier. Getting specific about how and what influenced what is always difficult, but I was a big Booker T fan. I had the Green Onions album when I was a teenager. And in my previous band, we were going for two or three years, and we went through Beatles and Beach Boys, on to all the Stax and soul stuff. We played "Green Onions" onstage. I'd done a fair bit of that stuff; it was something I thought we could incorporate into our sound without anyone spotting where the influence had come from. And to me, it worked. Nice white English architecture students getting funky is a bit of an odd thought . . . and isn't as funky as all that [laughs].

When you saw the design for the album's sleeve, did it instantly make sense?

Yes. I don't know quite why it made sense. When Storm [Thorgeson, Floyd's co-designer] showed us all the ideas, with that one, there was no doubt. It was, "That is it." It's a brilliant cover. One can look at it after that first moment of brilliance and think, "Well, it's a very commercial idea: It's very stark and simple; it'll look great in shop windows." It wasn't a vague picture of four lads bouncing in the countryside. That fact wasn't lost on us.

How did you feel about the album's huge success? Were you surprised?

I was. I knew that we were moving up a gear, but no one can anticipate the sales and chart longevity of that nature. With every month that went by, it stayed right up in there in the charts. There was a point when it had done its initial run and faded right down and out, and then something happened, and it picked up again. The true word-of-mouth thing must have got round. And it's been sitting there ever since.