Is 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' the best Pink Floyd song?

Here are reasons fans are likely to list this song as one of Floyd's best...if not the best.

Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd / Keystone Features/GettyImages
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When Pink Floyd fans hear "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," many of them probably don't simply think, "Oh, what a beautiful song." They might think it's the band's best, and possibly the greatest song ever written. Why is that? Well, let's dig in just a little bit.

Being a song by the English rock band Pink Floyd, it was written by band members Roger Waters, Richard Wright, and David Gilmour, who bring quite a lot of elements to the table here that fans of the band love (and which others would dismiss as "pretentious"). For starters, the song is technically divided into 9 parts, or "sub-songs," (at least in album form), with the first part appearing as the opening track on the band's 1975 album Wish You Were Here, and the final parts serve the purpose of closing the album. The lyrics will have those "in the know" drying their eyes. Basically, the song is about losing someone to mental illness.

The song a tribute to Syd Barrett, one of the original members of Pink Floyd, who had to leave the band in the late 1960s due to mental health issues. The title "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" refers to Barrett through the nickname,"Crazy Diamond." The lyrics reflect on Barrett's impact on the band and his struggles with mental illness. Musically, the song is known for its atmospheric and progressive rock sound, featuring extended instrumental passages and Gilmour's emotive guitar work (though, in some live versions, other instruments are let to "shine" equally as bright as the guitarwork).

"Shine On You Crazy Diamond" is also catchy

The potential catchiness of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" is another reason fans could easily add this song to a list of "The 10 Best Pink Floyd Songs of All Time." The use of synthesizers and the overall production contribute to the song's ethereal and dreamlike quality, while the elements of it being a true story, make "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" seem unique. It is considered one of Pink Floyd's signature songs and is often regarded as a masterpiece in the progressive rock genre. The combination of its emotional lyrics and intricate musical arrangements has made it a classic among fans of the band and rock music in general.

If you are a fan of the band, can you make peace with the assessment that "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" is the band's greatest song? That obviously depends on your tastes. What can be easily argued is that the song is more accessible than other Floyd fare, such as most things from "A Saucerful of Secrets." Also, despite the song resting largely on a simple, repeated chord structure, it would still be tricky to capture and sustain the mood of the piece, or cover it in different styles (for example, capturing the entirety of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" as an a cappella piece).

Final thoughts

There is no definitive answer of which song is any musical act's best. Still, this song has some key elements that fans of the band love. At the same time, it's not Pink Floyd's edgiest song, which is why some people (myself included) would not list it as the band's greatest. That being said, a fair-minded person should be able to see why it would make the top of the list for some. In any case, happy listening, and shine on yourself!

Thoughts on this guitar playing by David Gilmour?

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