The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #47: Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd (RS)

This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #47: Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd.

“Comfortably Numb” comes from the famous Pink Floyd album called, “The Wall”. It is a unique entry in that album for many reasons:

First of all, Roger Waters was the principal songwriter for all of Pink Floyd’s songs at the time and, most certainly, for the songs that ended up on “The Wall”. However, the foundation of “Comfortably Numb” came from an instrumental track that David Gilmour had been playing around with. When first shown to Roger Waters, he dismissed the track out of hand as being incompatible with the rest of the songs on the concept album they were creating. However, producer Bob Ezrins, heard something within the instrumental sounds and asked Waters to take another look and, perhaps while doing so, think about adding a verse or two. So, Waters did so. When Gilmour heard his music paired with Waters new lyrics, he found it elevated the song to a higher plain. As it turned out, it was to be the final time that Gilmour and Waters ever collaborated on a song. Soon after “The Wall” was released, Roger Waters left the band.

Secondly, the way the songs were constructed on “The Wall” was that there was always a connection between them. In other words, one song helped set up the next song which, in turn, helped introduce the song after that. “Comfortably Numb” was decreed to be worthy of inclusion on the album by Waters but, he still felt, even after all he added to the song via his lyrics, that it did not fit the theme he was going for. So, “Comfortably Numb” is used as a stand-alone song on the album. It does not connect to the song that proceeds it nor to any that follow. It is a musical island, all on its own.

Finally, in order to tell the story being told on “The Wall”, the band created a character named “Pink” who experiences all that goes on during that album. In “Comfortably Numb”, the character of “Pink” does not actively “experience” anything. In fact, it is the exact opposite. “Comfortably Numb” is based upon an real life experience Roger Waters had at a concert when he felt too sick to perform due to a bout of food poisoning. In that incident, Waters was attended to by a doctor, who hooked him up, pre-show, to an intravenous drip meant to medicate him, all the while, rehydrating him so that he might be able to, somehow, perform up to the standards that he, his bandmates and their fans had come to expect. Well, as it turned out, he recovered enough to perform while feeling “comfortably numb” because of the IV drip. So, on “The Wall”, “Pink” is not actively experiencing any pain and is, instead, finding a way to hide from the pain for one song.

“Comfortably Numb” has gone on to be one of Pink Floyd’s most popular songs. It was the last song that the original lineup ever played live before Roger Waters left. Both Waters and Gilmour continue to play the song; Gilmour, with the remaining members of Pink Floyd and, Waters, as a solo artist, who invites guest singers (such as Eddie Vedder, from Pearl Jam or Bruce Hornsby) to sing Gilmour’s part during his shows. The song is noted for having for having two, separate guitar solos. These solos are universally rated as being among the best guitar solos of all-time by those in the know. For me, I have always liked “Comfortably Numb” best among all of Pink Floyd’s great songs. I love the lyrics but I also love the guitar solos, too. To my way of thinking, it was a very fitting song to have served as the final collaboration between David Gilmour and Roger Waters and as the final song they all ever played together.

So, without further delay, here is what all the fuss is about. I present to you all, Pink Floyd and their classic hit, “Comfortably Numb” from the album, “The Wall”. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd, can be found here.

The link to the official website for ink Floyd, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.

Author: Tom MacInnes

Among the many characters I play: husband, father, son, retired elementary school teacher, writer, Cape Bretoner, lover of hot tea and, above all else, a gentleman. I strive to make a positive difference in the lives of others. In Life, I have chosen to be kind.

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