Our Top 10 David Gilmour Pink Floyd Songs list presents the most popular and much-loved Pink Floyd songs written and performed by David Gilmour. Since 1965, Pink Floyd has been wowing the audience with its brand of progressive rock music that often drifted into the psychedelic realm. Perhaps speaking as a biased fan, I don’t know of any other band in history that’s been able to deliver a musical performance that comes close to what the men from England specialized in. Speaking as a fan, I honestly didn’t care who held the lead vocalist role between David Gilmour and Roger Waters. I also liked Syd Barrett but his time with Pink Floyd was a short-lived one. Of the top ten songs from Pink Floyd’s discography, the majority of the charted hits came from either Gilmour as the lead vocalist or as a tag team combo with Waters. However, of all the hits Pink Floyd charted with, none of them came close to the unforgettable experience “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)” delivered. That became more than just a hit song. It became a legend.
Before joining Pink Floyd as their guitarist, David Gilmour was born and raised in a household that encouraged him to pursue his interest in music. Born on March 6, 1946, in Cambridge, England, he attended the same school as fellow band members Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright. Shortly after Pink Floyd was founded as a group in 1967, Gilmour joined the lineup as a guitarist. This came at a time when Syd Barrett’s mental health issues resulted in a breakdown that forced him to leave the band. Because of this, the four remaining members stepped up their roles. This included Gilmour becoming more involved which would include singing lead vocals. From 1968 until 1985, he shared this role with Roger Waters.
Prior to joining Pink Floyd, David Gilmour was attending Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology. This is where he met Syd Barrett as the two were students attending the same college. In 1965, he and Barrett went to France and Spain to perform in gigs, covering songs previously recorded by The Beatles. It was a time in Gilmour’s life that met with a series of financial struggles before he united with Barrett again by joining Pink Floyd in October 1967. Together, they recorded and released the debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. At the time, he wasn’t a regular member of Pink Floyd’s lineup. However, the increase in Syd Barrett’s erratic behavior changed that. Once Barrett was no longer with Pink Floyd, Gilmour officially took his place full-time. This wasn’t easy to do given how closely knit each band member was with Barrett, including Gilmour. From this point forward, Pink Floyd continued on but not without carrying Syd Barrett’s legacy with them.
First New Era
1973 marked the beginning of a new era with The Dark Side of the Moon. Although it was technically Pink Floyd’s eighth studio album, it was the first that catapulted the British-based progressive rock group from stardom to superstardom. This became the “it” album with enough selling power to stay on the US Billboard Albums chart for approximately eighteen consecutive years. This was followed by 1975’s Wishing You Were Here, then Animals in 1977, and The Wall in 1979. Up until this point, the lineup of Pink Floyd remained close until Richard Wright was fired before The Wall had yet to be released. This loss marked the beginning of a strain that would surface in the filming of The Wall. It became even more dramatic in 1983 when The Final Cut was released. The rift between Gilmour and Waters maximized after Waters refused to wait for Gilmour to come up with his own original material for The Final Cut. Even before the release of this album, the writing was already on the wall that the days of Pink Floyd’s original lineup were numbered. Already, Wright was gone. It was only a matter of time before someone else was going to leave. With the creative differences brewing between Gilmour and Waters at the time, it was Waters who took it upon himself to bid his bandmates farewell.
Second New Era
When Roger Waters went solo in 1985, he publicly suggested the days of Pink Floyd were over. However, David Gilmour and Nick Mason publicly announced this wasn’t the case. In 1987, A Momentary Lapse of Reason was released as an album that had Richard Wright back in the lineup. For Wright, the departure of Waters meant Pink Floyd could finally relax as a better-balanced band. However, before Pink Floyd could continue as a recording artist, there was a battle over the band’s name as Waters filed a lawsuit against them. This was a move he later admitted he regretted but did agree it was a valuable learning experience for him as a person.
Losing such a strong personality as Roger Waters from Pink Floyd’s lineup wasn’t easy but David Gilmour as lead vocalist for the group was already established. However, instead of sharing this role with Waters, he technically became the main frontman from 1985 onward. This was made evident in 1987, as well as in 1994’s The Division Bell. Like all the albums since The Dark Side of the Moon up to this point, it was a multi-platinum seller worldwide. While the Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall remains as the two juggernauts belonging to Pink Floyd’s music portfolio, this group was able to prove that its run as a highly favored rock band was not about to fade into obscurity anytime soon. 2014’s The Endless River was another multi-platinum album that kept Pink Floyd going as a world-class act that still knew how to rock.
During the summer season of 2005, whatever differences between David Gilmour, Roger Waters, and the rest of the Pink Floyd lineup at the time seemed no longer evident as the men performed together at the protest concert, Live 8. The goal behind the concerts held in the summer was to use big-name stars like Pink Floyd to heighten awareness of concerning issues as the G8 world leaders met in Scotland. After this, the group was offered to do a reunion tour in the United States but it was turned down. Part of the reason was the men involved were already reaching the ages where most working people retire from their respective careers. In fact, 2006 marked the year Syd Barrett passed away in his home at sixty years old. Not long after his passing was Richard Wright as his battle against cancer claimed his life in 2008.
Even though they’ve reached the age of retirement, David Gilmour and Nick Mason have continued sporadically as Pink Floyd. In fact 2022’s single “Hey, Hey Rise Up!” was the latest musical contribution the band made as a protest against the war raging on between Russia and Ukraine. To this day, Roger Waters keeps himself at a distance as the 2005 reunion concert wasn’t enough to fully reconcile their differences. Personally speaking as a fan, at least the global audience was blessed with the legacy Pink Floyd left behind as one of the most iconic musical groups in history. Collectively, this band sold several millions of records worldwide. Their history of one sold-out concert after another also speaks volumes. Consistently, Pink Floyd has been mentioned as one of the all-time favorite rock bands by fans of all ages.
In 1996, Pink Floyd was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2005, the same happened again with the UK Music Hall of Fame. As part of Pink Floyd’s legacy, artists such as David Bowie and Queen credited the group, including Syd Barrett, for inspiring them to get into the music business themselves. So many fans and so many musical artists benefited from Pink Floyd’s presence. Whether it was David Gilmour, Roger Waters, or Richard Wright uttering the vocals, the listening experience was truly out of this world. It still is.
Top 10 David Gilmour Pink Floyd Songs
#10 – What Do You Want from Me
In 1994, ‘What Do You Want from Me” became a number sixteen hit on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. This slow-beat ballad featured David Gilmour trying to find out what exactly the people closest to him want. With Pink Floyd’s history of using music as a theme to suggest alienation from the audience, it was pointed out that the song itself was designed to be more personal than that. As a whole, The Division Bell was an album that brought forth one of the leading causes behind split relationships, which is a lack of communication and understanding of what people want from each other.
#9 – Breathe
From Dark Side of the Moon, “Breathe” was a song performed by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour as lead vocalist. It was he and his bandmate Richard Wright who composed the music while Roger Waters prepared the lyrics. This was a slow bluesy song that once again focused heavily on the euphoric instrumentation played out by the band’s roster. This was Gilmour seeming to step out more as a vocalist with his own identity as it was evident at this time the man was becoming more involved when it came to the musical direction of Pink Floyd. As a song sold on its own, “Breathe” became certified silver with the British Phonographic Industry, as well as gold with Italy’s Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana.
#8 – The Dogs of War
Throughout Pink Floyd’s career, the band wasn’t shy to express their political and social views in the form of musical compositions. “The Dogs of War” was no exception as a song featured on the 1987 album, A Momentary Lapse of Reason. As far as David Gilmour and his bandmates were concerned, “The Dogs of War” were corrupt businessmen and politicians who raked in profits each time they sent their military muscle to get a specific job done. As far as the fans were concerned, this was a cool tune to listen to. From the ominous opening to its dramatic finish, “The Dogs of War” painted an image that demonstrated there is no such thing as glory when it comes to war. In the end, nobody wins.
#7 – Money
“Money” was a song written by Roger Waters that was performed lyrically and musically by David Gilmour. As the most successful single from The Dark Side of the Moon, this 1973 hit peaked at number thirteen on the US Billboard Hot 100. It was also a top ten hit on the US Cash Box chart, as well as in Austria and Spain. “Money” was also a hit in Canada, Germany, and Italy. It became certified gold in Italy, as well as silver in the UK. Speaking as a fan who attended a Pink Floyd concert, I can still recall the excitement of fans drowning out the opening sound of cash registers going off to start the song. It was deafening. “Money” is one of Pink Floyd’s signature songs that continue to earn considerable airplay on radio stations worldwide. This was a song that laid out the unfortunate truth that the world’s reliance on currencies in order to stay functional was a necessity. As a lyricist, Waters knew this. As performers, so did Gilmour and the rest of the Pink Floyd roster.
#6 – Take It Back
From The Division Bell, 1994’s “Take It Back” was a single Pink Floyd released with David Gilmour as the lead vocalist. When listening to the lyrics, Gilmour seems to be singing about a love interest whom he’s testing to see how far he can go before she decides she no longer wants anything more to do with him. This became one of Pink Floyd’s most popular hits as it peaked as high as number four on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it was a number seventy-three hit. Among the nations of Canada and New Zealand, it was a top ten hit as it peaked at number nine and seven, respectively. On the UK Singles Chart, it climbed as high as number twenty-three.
#5 – On the Turning Away
On the UK Singles Chart, “On the Turning Away” became a number fifty-five hit as a Pink Floyd single in 1987. It was the second song released from the album, A Momentary Lapse of Reason. It was also the second time in a row David Gilmour and his bandmates would experience a number-one hit on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. This was a protest song, designed as a power ballad, sung by Gilmour as the group’s lead vocalist. The theme behind “On the Turning Away’ painted a grim picture of an apocalyptic future.
#4 – Learning to Fly
A Momentary Lapse of Reason was the first album Pink Floyd released without Roger Waters as the man left the group in 1985. Released in 1987, “Learning to Fly” was the first of three songs to be released as singles. Sung by David Gilmour, it became Pink Floyd’s first number-one hit on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. It also became a number-one hit in Spain. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it charted as high as number seventy. This was a song that held special meaning for the group as this was their message that Pink Floyd was “Learning to Fly” again as a group. They also proved Roger Waters wrong that they were able to carry on as a top-notch progressive rock band without him. As part of the inspiration behind “Learning to Fly,” David Gilmour was also taking lessons on how to fly an airplane. This was a song that also found its place on the official music charts belonging to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, and the Netherlands. In 1988, it won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Concept Video.
#3 – Time
Again speaking as a fan, each time I hear ‘Time,” I go berzerk. It’s also safe to say I’m not the only one. I also recall in concert the second “Time” began with the chime of all those clocks, the fans drowned all that out with cheers of approval. The sheer power that went into the instrumental opening of this song shot this song from extraordinary to super extraordinary. When David Gilmour begins with his vocal delivery as “Time” progressed as a song, a wave overtakes the senses as this spiritual experience continues to be amazing. Fans who love Pink Floyd’s brand of progressive rock music will understand. This was actually a song that had Alan Parsons Project collaborate with Pink Floyd. The British Phonographic Industry certified “Time” silver after it surpassed the 200,000 sales mark. In Italy, it was certified gold after selling 25,000 copies as a single.
#2 – Wish You Were Here
1975’s album, Wish You Were Here, released the title track as a single that featured David Gilmour taking on the role of lead vocalist in a song that was written by him and Roger Waters. This became one of Pink Floyd’s signature songs, as well as Gilmour’s. The star power of “Wish You Were Here” has kept this cult classic on top as one of the best songs ever recorded in the genre of rock and roll music. This was a song performed exactly as the title stated. The desire for a specific person to be near instead of afar was powerfully expressed as Gilmour seemed to pour his heart out. Some fans look at “Wish You Were Here” as a tribute to former bandmate Syd Barrett. Due to health issues, he had no choice but to leave the band in 1967. According to Gilmour, the song was aimed at himself as a person needing to learn how to live life to the fullest. In order to do that, the spirit within needs to be alive and ready to go with the flow.
When listening to the song and Gilmour’s lyrics, that’s exactly what this mesmerizing song sets out to do. On the UK Singles Chart, it became a number sixty-eight hit in 2012, almost four decades after this song was released. It also appeared on the music charts belonging to Austria, France, Germany, and Norway. It was certified platinum by the UK’s British Phonographic Industry. In Italy, it became double platinum while in Denmark, gold. “Wish You Were Here” became a staple song performed in concert by Pink Floyd. It also became one of the most popular songs played on the radio worldwide. While Wyclef Jean covered a chart-hitting version of this song that became a popular hit throughout Europe and the UK, it still doesn’t quite hold a candle to the cultural impact Pink Floyd’s original did.
#1 – Comfortably Numb
When The Wall was released as an album, this was a Pink Floyd masterpiece that deservedly earned its place in history as one of the best rock albums of all time. True to nature, Pink Floyd brought forth a progressive album that told a whole story, one song at a time. “Comfortably Numb” was a song installment to a tracklist that featured the experience of Roger Waters as a young lad growing up in a social environment that seemed too unjust for comfort. In a world that tends to believe medication is the way to solve problems. From start to finish, David Gilmour’s composition and lyrics to “Comfortably Numb” was one of those songs that literally fit the mood as a “relax and listen” tune.
This was a song that had David Gilmour at his best and remains his ultimate signature song. Whether performed with Pink Floyd or as a solo act, “Comfortably Numb” joins the ranks of “Another Brick in the Wall” as an important piece of pop culture legacy. It also became one of Pink Floyd’s most successful singles as it became certified platinum in Italy and the UK. It also became certified gold in Denmark. In concert, “Comfortably Numb” became a staple. Each time this song was performed live, the fans often seemed to embark on some kind of wave as if they were on a relaxing boat ride.
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Top 10 David Gilmour Pink Floyd Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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