Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

Name = Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

Artist = Pink Floyd
Album = A Saucerful of Secrets
Released = 29 June 1968 (UK)
27 July 1968 (US)
track_no = 3
Recorded = 7-8 August, October 1967, January 1968
Abbey Road Studios, London
Genre = Space rock, psychedelic rock
Length = 5:27
Writer = Roger Waters
Producer = Norman Smith
prev = Remember a Day
prev_no = 2
next = Corporal Clegg
next_no = 4
"Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" is a song by British psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd, and is featured on their second album, "A Saucerful of Secrets" (1968). It was written by Roger Waters, and features a drum part by Nick Mason. The song was regularly performed between 1967 and 1973, and can be heard on the live disc of the 1969 album "Ummagumma" and seen in the 1972 movie '. It also appears on the compilation album ', which was released in 2001.

According to an interview with David Gilmour on the 2006 documentary "Which One's Pink?", the song features minor guitar work both from Gilmour and Syd Barrett, making "Set The Controls" the only Pink Floyd song that features all five band members.

The song's recording commenced in August 1967, with overdubs recorded in October of that year and in January 1968. In the book "Pink Floyd - through the eyes of..." by Bruno McDonald, Roger Waters admitted to "borrowing" the lyrics from a book of Chinese poetry from the Tang Dynasty period (which was later identified as the book "Poems of the late T'ang", translated by A.C. Graham). Fact|date=February 2007

Some of the "borrowed" lines were written by Li He, whose poem "Don't go out the door" contains the line "witness the man who raged at the wall as he wrote his question to heaven", and Li Shangyin, whose poetry contained the lines, "watch little by little the night turn around", "countless the twigs which tremble in dawn," and, "one inch of love is an inch of ashes."

Additionally, the main riff resembles a phrase played by Jimmy Garrison in his introductory solo prior to "My Favorite Things" on the John Coltrane album "Live At The Village Vanguard Again!", although this is most likely coincidental. Fact|date=February 2007. The riff E E F E D E... is in the phrygian mode. Its "Indian" character was very fashionable for pop music at that time.

This song, as well as others by Pink Floyd, influenced author Douglas Adams in the creation of the fictional band "Disaster Area" in his book "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe". Disaster Area is known to be the loudest band in the universe. Similar to Pink Floyd their set is one with many visual effects and ends by crashing a spaceship into the nearest sun.

The song has featured in the set list for Waters' 2006-2007 tour, and previously his In the Flesh tour, featuring stills from the videos of "Arnold Layne" and "Scarecrow", respectively, projected on large screens. In June 2002, audiences enjoyed a surprise when the two nights at London's Wembley Arena saw the appearance, as guest drummer for the performance of the track, of Waters' former Pink Floyd bandmate Nick Mason, the first indication of a reconciliation following the acrimonious split of the mid-1980s.


*Richard Wrightkeyboards, vibraphone
*Roger Watersbass guitar, vocals
*Nick Masondrums, percussion
*David Gilmourguitar
*Syd Barrett - guitar

Alternative and live versions

*Pink Floyd performed the song from 1967-1973. In 1984/1985 and from 1999-present, Roger Waters has performed the song.
*On both the live Ummagumma disk and the "" , the song is significantly extented with a wide range of dynamics. For instance the drums stop in the quiet middle section.
*A version of the song features on the "" DVD, containing a saxophone solo.

Cover versions and allusions

*A cover version was also done by prog metal supergroup OSI and is on the bonus disc of their debut album OSI.
*Another version of the song was done by Israeli doom/death band Salem.
*Psychedelic metal band Kylesa cover the song live and recently recorded a studio version of it.
*Psychic TV covered the song on the tribute album "The World's Greatest Pink Floyd Tribute".
*The Titanics wrote and sang a song with the same name, however, the lyrics are radically different.
* On Erasure's 1994 release of their single "Run to the Sun," a remix by Chris and Cosey is titled the "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun Mix."
* In 1996 Barry Adamson released a song entitled "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Pelvis" on his album Oedipus Schmoedipus, which featured Jarvis Cocker of Pulp on vocals.
*LCD Soundsystem references the song in "All My Friends," a song on their 2007 album, "Sound of Silver". One of the song's lines is: "You switch the engine on/We set controls for the heart of the sun/one of the ways we show our age"
* The Australian Pink Floyd Show incorporate saxophone and electric guitar solos, and a didgeridoo drone is played continuously through the song
* Mika Vainio, half of the Pan Sonic, did a cover version on the album, Oleva (2008).
* Smashing Pumpkins played a live version of the song in the final leg of their 2008 tour.
* Sludge metal band Nightstick covered the song on their 1995 album Blotter.
*Darkwave group Trance to the Sun recorded a cover of this song on their 1999 CD "Urchin Tear Soda".
*"Set the Controls for the Heart of the Bass" is a Bassomatic album and song.

External links

* Lyrics - []


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