- The Great Gig in the Sky
"The Great Gig in the Sky" is the fifth track [The track number depends upon the album version; some releases merge the two tracks "Speak to Me" and "Breathe," for instance.] from English
progressive rockband Pink Floyd's 1973 album, " The Dark Side of the Moon". It features soaring voice instrumental musicby Clare Torry. The song was called either "The Religion Song"or "The Mortality Sequence" during recording.
Clare Torry's vocals
In an interview, [ [http://www.brain-damage.co.uk/other-related-interviews/clare-torry-october-2005-brain-damage-excl-2.html Pink Floyd news :: Brain Damage - Clare Torry - October 2005 - Brain Damage exclusive ] ] Torry mentioned that she was trying to emulate an instrument. So it was, from all published accounts, an improvisation with Torry apparently using her songwriting skills to give it form and function.
In fact, she mentions in her interview that she was never clearly told that the song was about death. In a different interview on the DVD "The Dark Side of the Moon" (Eagle Vision EV 30042-9 US NTSC version), Richard Wright mentions that she began singing words and they knew they didn't want that. Published interviews mention that she recorded the takes very quickly — on the DVD, the track sheet shows two tracks (four takes) used for her vocals.
In her interview, she mentions that an accountant at
Abbey Road Studioscalled her; other interviews with band members mentioned that Alan Parsonssuggested her.
Chris Thomas, who was brought in to assist Alan Parsons in mixing the album mentions that they were actually in mixdown at the time. On the DVD, various members mention that they had this song and weren't quite sure what to do with it. Wright further mentions that when she finished, she was apologetic about her performance even though those present were amazed at her improvisation.
In Torry's interview she mentions that she left thinking that it wouldn't be included on the final cut. In fact, she states that the only way she knew it was used was when she saw it at a local record store, saw her name in the credits and purchased it.
During live performances by Pink Floyd, up to three singers were used, each taking different parts of the song. For example,
Durga McBroomperformed on the " A Momentary Lapse of Reason" and " The Division Bell" tours, as well as at Knebworth and on Gilmour's solo tours.
Aside from the soaring vocals there are two spoken parts, an introduction at 0:38 spoken by Gerry O'Driscoll (an Irish Abbey Road Studios doorman at the time), and Puddie Watts' (wife of roadie Peter Watts) [Inside Out. Nick Mason. First edition P171] voice at 3:33.
In 2004, Torry sued Pink Floyd and
EMIfor songwriting royalties, on the basis that her contribution to "Great Gig in the Sky" constituted co-authorship with Rick Wright; originally, she was paid the standard Sunday flat studio rate of £30. In 2005, a settlement was reached in High Court in Torry's favour, although terms were not disclosed. In the P*U*L*S*E DVD booklet, "The Great Gig in the Sky" is credited to Wright and "vocal composition by Clare Torry".
Most of the song is a slightly altered arrangement of the beat and bassline from the song "Breathe". The beat and bassline were very much part of Pink Floyd's playing style as far back as
Atom Heart Mother. However, due to the altered beat and bassline, it is not directly related to "Breathe", unlike the last part of "Time" (sometimes listed in songbooks as " Breathe (Reprise)"), and " Any Colour You Like" (sometimes nicknamed "Breathe (2nd Reprise)").
When the "Dark Side of the Moon" suite was performed in 1972 (before the album was released), the song was completely different and went under the title "The Mortality Sequence". Then, it was simply an organ and samples of people speaking about death being played during the performance.
"(At 3:33, faintly)"quotation|I never said I was frightened of dying.|Puddie Watts, wife of roadie Peter Watts [Inside Out. Nick Mason. First edition P171.]
*"The Great Gig in the Sky" is the only song from "
The Dark Side of the Moon" that is not played on XM Satellite Radio's " Top Tracks" (XM channel 46) classic rockchannel. " Speak to Me", "Breathe", and "On the Run" are played together, as is " Us and Them", " Any Colour You Like", "Brain Damage", and "Eclipse". "Time" and "Money" are played as individual tracks.
*At the end the song, with about 13 seconds left, while the last piano chord is ringing, the track speeds up, gradually raising the pitch of the sustaining piano.
*A re-recorded version piece was used as the backing music in a UK television advert for an
analgesic( Nurofen) in the early '90s (the band were not involved in this version, but Clare Torryagain did the vocal). [cite web|url = http://www.pink-floyd.org/faq/faq6.html#1| title = Echoes FAQ| accessmonthday = August 29| accessyear = 2006] The original version was used in a Dole banana commercial around the time of the release of the album.
*In live performances of the song during the band's 1974-1975 tour, David Gilmour would play both lap steel guitar and the
Hammond organ, allowing Richard Wright to concentrate solely on piano (his keyboards were arranged where he couldn't play both). David's pedal steel for Great Gig was located accordingly beside Rick's Hammond. This practice was discontinued in 1987 after additional touring keyboardist Jon Carintook over the Hammond parts.
*The song was mentioned by
Jack Blackin the movie " School of Rock" in which Jack Black asks the backup singer to listen to "the vocal solo on The Great Gig in the Sky."
*The song was used in the film "
*The song was used in the film "
Pirates of Silicon Valley"
*The song serves as a benchmark for believers of the "
Dark Side of the Rainbow" phenomenon. The entry of Torry's lamenting vocals coincides almost exactly with the tornado striking Dorothy's farm, and the song ends just as Dorothy steps outside to find herself in Oz Fact|date=May 2007.
Alternative and Live versions
P•U•L•S•E" features a live version sung by host of backing singers, one of whom is Sam Brown. Similarly, the " Delicate Sound of Thunder" video features three different backing singers who provide the vocalisations for the song.
*On the "Echoes" compilation album, the song segues from "Marooned" into "
Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun".
Theresa Thomasonperformed Clare Torry's famous vocal improvisation on "The Great Gig in the Sky" when Dream Theatercovered Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" at the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam, Holland on October 11, 2005, and the Hammersmith Apollo in London on October 25, 2005. The London show was recorded and released again on both DVD and CD through Dream Theater's Ytsejam Records.
Easy Star All-Stars' " Dub Side of the Moon" album, there are two different Dub musicversions of the track, "The Great Gig in the Sky" (Track 4) and "Great Dub in the Sky" (Track 11).
Phish also does a live cover in Live Phish 7, Disc 3, Track 6
Seattle local band
The Squirrelsdid a full-length parody "tribute" of DSOTM in 1999 entitled The Not-So-Bright Side of the Moon. Their version of "Great Gig" had a man reluctantly singing the part in falsetto after being told "Sorry, the girl didn't show up!"
*Richard Wright - Piano and Hammond organ
David Gilmour- Steel Guitar
Roger Waters- Bass
Nick Mason- Drums and Percussionwith:
Clare Torry- Vocals
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