Music Friday: Pink Floyd's 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' Fetes Ex-Band Member

Welcome to Music Friday when we feature fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today we’re privileged to present Pink Floyd’s 1975 masterpiece, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.”

Written as a tribute to former band member Syd Barrett, who had to leave the group after suffering a mental breakdown, the song includes the famous opening line, “Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun. Shine on you crazy diamond.”

In comparing him to a diamond, the co-writers — all band members at the time — saluted Barrett's exceptional talent and creative genius.

A founding member of Pink Floyd, Barrett was the group’s lead vocalist, lead guitarist and primary songwriter during the band’s early years in the mid-1960s. He is also credited with naming the band, but it wasn’t long before mental illness and drug abuse took its toll.

His behavior became erratic: Concertgoers reported that Barrett would sometimes get on stage and not play a single note. Other times he would play the same note over and over. His stint with Pink Floyd lasted only three years, as the band reluctantly ousted him in 1968. He passed away in 2006.

Running nearly 26 minutes, the nine-part “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” was originally intended to fill the first side of the concept album, Wish You Were Here. Ultimately the band members decided it was best to split the epic song in half and allow it to bookend the album.

Wish You Were Here turned out to be a huge commercial success with more than 20 million copies sold worldwide. Rolling Stone magazine listed it as one of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”

Although the original song officially runs 25:57, we’ve found a radio version that dives right into the powerful lyrics. It runs just 3:29. Enjoy...

“Shine On You Crazy Diamond”
Written by Roger Waters, David Jon Gilmour and Rick Wright. Performed by Pink Floyd.

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there’s a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
You were caught on the crossfire of childhood and stardom,
Blown on the steel breeze.

Come on you target for faraway laughter,
Come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!

You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.

Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Well, you wore out your welcome with random precision,
Rode on the steel breeze.

Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
Come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!

Credit: Photo by Paul Carless, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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