by Josh Hart
That Rolling Stone called him "one of rock's most distinctive guitarists" seems almost an understatement to anyone who has ever closed their eyes and listened to Dark Side of the Moon or Animals. Pink Floyd's David Gilmour belongs to the rare class of guitarists whose tone is absolutely unmistakable, even if you catch just one note emanating from the stereo of a passing car. When not fronting the biggest-selling progressive rock band in history, Pink Floyd, or enjoying a successful solo career, Gilmour managed to find time to work with everyone from Paul McCartney and Elton John to Eric Clapton and B.B. King. For a man who needs no introduction, this one has already gone on too long. So, without further ado, breathe, have a cigar and enjoy our David Gilmour playlist.
“There’s No Way Out of Here”
David Gilmour, 1978
Perhaps the finest example of his ability to take even the simplest of guitar lines and wring out every last bit of emotion, this was Gilmour’s only solo single of the 70s. Recorded between the sessions for Animals and The Wall, his self-titled debut was the guitarist’s attempt to “step out from behind Pink Floyd's shadow." A little-known fact: This song was actually recorded in 1976 by the band Unicorn as “No Way Out,” for the album Too Many Crooks which Gilmour produced.
“The Nile Song”
This cut from the band’s 1969 soundtrack to the film More is the only instance I can think of in which Pink Floyd could be accurately described as proto-metal. One listen to Gilmour’s anguished vocals over a heavy, fuzzed-out version of hard British blues makes it clear that Black Sabbath weren't the only Brits getting their heavy on as the decades changed .
“Learning to Fly”
Momentary Lapse in Reason, 1987
Arguably Pink Floyd’s only true “hit” after the departure of Roger Waters, “Learning to Fly” showed Gilmour settling into his new role as band's de-facto leader. The song starts out with synthesizers at the forefront, perhaps a bold move for a band that, despite being among the first bands to make effective use of the technology, is still primarily a guitar band. Still, by the time the gospel choir enters on the chorus, you could swear you were right back to Dark Side of the Moon, if only for one song.
Clocking in at over 17 minutes, “Dogs” is hardly a single, but it most definitely contains some of Gilmour’s finest guitar work. The first solo of the song, drenched in reverb and delay, is the epitome of the “wet” guitar sound that Gilmour made so famous. The lead provides a beautiful moment of harmony before the track begins to heap on the bad vibes as Gilmour sings of businessmen—the titular "dogs" in question—working themselves to the bone.
The Wall, 1979
No David Gilmour playlist would be complete without this song, and as everything that can be said about its solo already has been, I’ll just let the music do the talking: