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The Great Gig In The Sky
November 17, 2009 3:43 PM   Subscribe

Interview with Clare Torry the singer in Pink Floyd's 'The Great Gig In The Sky' (youtube)

Clare was originally paid a session fee of just £30 to perform, in 2005 she won half-share copyright ownership of the song at the High Court in London.
posted by Lanark (41 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
OhhhhhhOhhhhhhhWuuuuhhhhhhhhOhOhWAAAAAAAAAAHHHHOhOhOh ...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:52 PM on November 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


Apparently paving the way for the organist on Whiter Shade of Pale (though he was a member of the band).
posted by about_time at 3:59 PM on November 17, 2009


in 2005 she won half-share copyright ownership of the song at the High Court in London.

It's a shame she wasn't given her bit up-front. She made that track what it is, obviously.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:01 PM on November 17, 2009


Her bit is the best part of that album for me. I remember listening to that song over and over and over as a kid. Interesting to see what she looks like; not even close to what I'd imagined (for some reason, I just assumed she wasn't white). Odd! No idea why I drew such a conclusion.
posted by heyho at 4:05 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Best. Album. Ever.

Well, no. The first half is among the best ever. The second half, not so much. And Torry's voice is pure win.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:05 PM on November 17, 2009


Recently I was struck by the suspicious similarity between "The Great Gig in the Sky" (1973) and Etta James's "Feeling Uneasy" (1974).
posted by Prospero at 4:06 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think we can safely say this is nothing like "The Great Gig in the Sky" (1973).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:15 PM on November 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Still waiting for Merry Clayton to get her share of "Gimmie Shelter" -- especially given that the performance caused her to miscarry*

*intriguing rumor that is likely not true
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 4:16 PM on November 17, 2009


I always thought there was something gratuitous and lazy about that song. Not her singing itself, but more the inclusion of a gospel-like wail seemed kind of hackneyed. I'm probably in the minority, though, and enjoyed most of the rest of the album.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:20 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


DSofM is probably my favorite Pink Floyd album, but I have always hated that song. Sounds like a pissed-off tabby in a washing machine. But that's probably just me and my personal bias against angry cats in household appliances.
posted by katillathehun at 4:27 PM on November 17, 2009


The second half, not so much.

Well young man, I suggest you roll a fat one and listen to it again until you learn to love the second half just as much as the first.
posted by chillmost at 4:40 PM on November 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


This (and Any Colour You Like) are the two most personally iconic songs on the album, both affecting me greatly despite having no lyrics to speak of. Glad to see Torry get her due both in court and on MeFi.
posted by mreleganza at 4:45 PM on November 17, 2009


I'm not frightened of dying, anytime will do, I don't mind. Why should I be frightened of dying? There's no reason for it, you´╗┐ gotta go sometime. But I sure do miss Rick Wright.
posted by punkfloyd at 4:52 PM on November 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


My 21-year-old son just discovered this album and Wish You Were Here (or should I say re-discovered, since they've certainly been played in the house plenty of times in the past). I think he's gonna be okay.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:01 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fantastic; I always wondered what she looked like.

Her vocals fit in perfectly with the entire theme of the album. Absolute gold.
posted by bwg at 5:02 PM on November 17, 2009


I have to admit, almost sadly, that Dark Side of the Moon is no longer my favorite album of theirs (meaning I can now hear that it has its highs and lows, maybe for overplaying it, maybe other albums such as Meddle or Animals have grown more on me during all these years)
I concur, though, that The Great Gig in the Sky is one of the defining moments, together with Any Color You Like / Brain Damage / Eclipse.

Also, headphones or computer speakers kill it. It has to be played on a proper stereo, and loud, and as far as production and sound quality could go back then (it was recorded on *16* tracks) it still sounds excellent to me 37 years later.
posted by _dario at 5:23 PM on November 17, 2009


Sounds like a pissed-off tabby in a washing machine.

I was over at a friend's house one night and he had the Sirius jam band channel on. They aired a complete Phish concert, part of which consisted of their cover of Dark Side Of The Moon. By which I mean the entire album, start to finish. I'm not a Phish fan at all, but they managed to pull it off, more or less...except for "Great Gig...," which was totally fucking appalling. Imagine all of Clare Torry's vocal operatics, only sung by the members of Phish. There isn't enough pot in the world to make that go down smoothly...
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:27 PM on November 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


As a raving punk fan in the mid to late 70's, I was obligated to dislike Pink Floyd. Now, as a middle age guy, I feel a bit silly admitting I've only discovered in the past couple years, just how great "Dark Side of the Moon", "Wish You Were Here" and "Animals" are.
posted by davebush at 5:29 PM on November 17, 2009


If you heard a whisper, you're dying.
posted by joe defroster at 5:34 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


That song is actually an automatic skip for me - the wails are just too much. I suppose they fit right into the theme of Syd losing his mind but it gets that wail gets to be grating. YMMV.
posted by Ber at 5:50 PM on November 17, 2009


I still have vivid memories of my friend and I, both budding pianists in our mid-teens, playing that song over and over and over - besides just for sheer enjoyment, I mean - to learn the chords exactly right...to the point I was hearing it in my damn dreams most nights. I'm sure it drove our parents nuts too (side benefit, of course, not drawback). I haven't "practiced" the song in decades, but by golly the changes are still under my fingers whenever I occasionally sit down to noodle through it on late nights when I've indulged in...more than is wise.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:41 PM on November 17, 2009


Bravo! She deserves it. That song would not be the same without her voice.
posted by mrducts at 6:59 PM on November 17, 2009


As much of a music elitist as I think I am, I can't imagine not liking this or any other song on DSotM.... or most of the rest of Pink Floyd's catalogue. They're just so fucking good. Seriously. Everything, every single thing after Syd left was fantastic.

I know that's just my opinion, but in this case, I'm really going to have to insist that I'm right.
posted by Bageena at 7:03 PM on November 17, 2009


Well young man, I suggest you roll a fat one and listen to it again until you learn to love the second half just as much as the first.

Okay.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:05 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Whoa. Judging by my fubaring the italics in that quote, maybe I better avoid rolling a1 fat one!

nother
posted by five fresh fish at 7:07 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pink Floyd is best enjoyed accompanied by at least one fat one. Your doin' just fine by my book, FFF. =)
posted by Bageena at 7:36 PM on November 17, 2009


Flog me for crossing the streams if you want, but here's a recent mecha post from The Whelk mentioning that song in an awesome context:
posted by qvantamon at 7:49 PM on November 17, 2009


... peaked with Meddle, if you ask me...
posted by Joe Beese at 7:54 PM on November 17, 2009


As a raving punk fan in the mid to late 70's, I was obligated to dislike Pink Floyd.

I have friends to this day who still won't listen to Floyd or Zeppelin and others, at least not without derision or quiet smugness. *shakes fist at those punks*
posted by stbalbach at 8:02 PM on November 17, 2009


Thought I'd jump in and say "Well, not in court with Pink Floyd - in court with the meaningless assholes who own the Pink Floyd music rights."

But then I remembered this awesome rumor from a few years back that in many cases, the "asshole owners" of the music rights are, in some cases, the bands themselves, letting the ownership groups take all the heat for demanding money, arguing contracts, etc.

I love rumors that undo other rumors, which, one could start a rumor about, are possibly false.
posted by jscott at 8:30 PM on November 17, 2009


Some people are just not moved by this song.

That's okay, they should just try to enjoy life in their own way.
posted by ovvl at 8:36 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wooaaaaaaaaaaaah Bodyform!

Sorry. Seriously, this is great.
posted by kersplunk at 9:37 PM on November 17, 2009


Clare Torrey made that record. IMO -- YMMV But it's just the best, SHE'S just the best -- pulls that off in two takes?

The soundtrack of my youth -- I've had that album on record, 8-track, cassette, CD -- my senior year (or was it my second senior year -- I was on the five year plan, majoring in drugs.) in HS and then in Clearwater Florida, my first move, it was just ALWAYS on the radio, and that was fine by me, and everyone else, too. (There were bales and bales of pot everywhere in Florida, and TONS of this opiated black hash from god knows where, my little ex-wife and I used to smoke it till we couldn't talk and then fuck all afternoon -- all you kids here just can't know what it was like in the seventies, when drugs had kindof sortof made it into the mainstream, everyone was smoking everything. A different time, for sure. Anyways... ) I remember the local rock/roll station there in Clearwater or St. Pete had this ... Contest? whatever -- where everyone picks their all time fave reccord, and this record won, in a walk, no contest.

I say she makes that record, and I'll stand by it; that doesn't mean the album isn't strong, it's an amazing album, all the more because they were just kids at the time -- look at some photos sometime, they look like they're eleven years old. (okay, fifteen maybe, but still)

I've rented and watched a documentary or two about this record, as it's such a pivotal record, and damn sure important to me. The record was to be a song cycle, along the lines of Days Of Future Passed, except a cycle of a life and not a day; Waters had penned birth, work, money, death, all of it, and they put all of it together but couldn't find a way to make 'Death' work. (Then here comes Ms. Torry, out of nowhere, and pulls this thing off. In two takes. Unreal.) I've read about it plenty over the years (lots more since the internet, natch) and was always appalled that she'd never been given a damn dime over her scale for that Sunday nights work -- how could the band members be that close-fisted? She made that record -- I'm not the only one who is of this opinion. They had plenty of dough, plenty -- how much do you need, anyways? Between them they could have tossed at least half a million her way, the cheap bastards -- I still sortof don't get that, it just doesn't add up.

Great find, good post, it'll make me get out that CD and give it a whirl tomorrow maybe...
posted by dancestoblue at 1:10 AM on November 18, 2009


I have already made it known to those who need to know these sorts of things, that I want this song played at my funeral.

I better put it in writing though.
posted by chillmost at 1:36 AM on November 18, 2009


I've seen Australian Pink Floyd play a couple of times over the years. The last time I saw them they had someone capable of doing this. The previous times they split the song amongst three singers with someone handling the low bits, someone handling the middle and someone doing the high bits. Amazing though this track is when done well, I have to be honest and say I was considerably more impressed by three voices sounding like one.
posted by vbfg at 4:06 AM on November 18, 2009


This live Laura Press version of Great Gig in the Sky (with some of the Parsons Project) from 2006 is probably the best attempt at emulation of Torry that I've heard.

Like a lot of my music, DSotM was passed on to me by my older brother and it blew my mind. But for the first year I only ever listened to side two. I had this bizarre idea that it would spoil Pink Floyd or this album for me if dared turn the record over, because of course there was no possibility on earth that side one could have equalled its other half.

Thanks for the post Lanark.
posted by peacay at 4:54 AM on November 18, 2009


World's longest recorded orgasm.
posted by Doohickie at 6:01 AM on November 18, 2009


I pretty much randomly found and watched this documentary on the making of the album on Netflix instant.

Netflix - Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon (2003)

It was a pleasant surprise in that it contains lots of information about the actual recording technique used.

I somehow managed to go three decades without knowing that Alan Parsons engineered the album. There are lots of great bits of Parsons playing back from original multi-track recordings with various bits muted to demonstrate the layering he did to build up to what is on the album. Clare Torry's vocals are among those pieces. Well worth a watch if you enjoy the album or are just interested in recording.
posted by Babblesort at 7:40 AM on November 18, 2009


Just occurred to me that if you don't have a Netflix account that link is useless. Here is an IMDB link to the same film.

IMDB - Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon (2003)
posted by Babblesort at 7:43 AM on November 18, 2009


Alan Parsons is (was?) a God. He work is immaculate. Absolutely the best.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:36 AM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I first heard this song (and the album) in the basement of one of the guys down the block, in total darkness. Although the effect was somewhat muted by having to turn a light on to flip the record, it was still an amazing experience.
posted by tommasz at 10:54 AM on November 18, 2009


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