Top 10 David Gilmour Solo Songs

David Gilmour Solo Songs

The top 10 David Gilmour solo songs come strictly from the collection of musical material that is not directly associated with his iconic group, Pink Floyd. Among the fans of the British-based rock group, the very mention of Gilmour instantly brings up memories of his musical genius as one of the key contributors to Pink Floyd’s impressive discography. Whenever the discussion of rock gods comes into play, Gilmour, Roger Waters, and the rest of the Pink Floyd lineup almost always get a double thumbs up among music critics and fans. Among the fan base who have followed the career of David Gilmour as a solo artist, they’ve come to recognize and appreciate his craftsmanship as one of the few who can rightfully stake the claim of a musical genius.

Going Pink

Born on March 6, 1946, in Cambridge, England, David Gilmour was raised as the son of a father who served as a senior zoologist lecturer at the University of Cambridge and a mother who worked as one of BBC’s film editors. Both parents encouraged their son to pursue his love for music which would later become his primary career choice. With a guitar he permanently borrowed from a neighbor, Gilmour taught himself how to play the instrument by following a series of books and records by Pete Seeger. Before joining the Pink Floyd roster, he met Syd Barrett and Roger Waters while all three of these lads were still in schools in Cambridgeshire.

Going into 1967, Pink Floyd was a lineup that had Barrett and Waters, along with Nick Mason and Richard Wright. Together, they released their debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. During this time, Gilmour watched the group record “See Emily Play” where he discovered his friend, Barrett, wasn’t the same man he knew as a friend and colleague. Barrett didn’t recognize him, which also marked the beginning of mental health issues that would play an integral role in Pink Floyd’s future, as well as his own. Going into 1968’s A Saucerful of Secrets, David Gilmour’s involvement with Pink Floyd increased while Syd Barrett’s decreased. By this time, Gilmour was added to the group’s lineup on a more official level as Barrett’s battle against his personal demons caused him to be less reliable as a bandmate.

Staying Pink

Moving forward, Pink Floyd’s lineup of Gilmour, Mason, Waters, and Wright continued with their recording career clean through the 1970s. As their popularity grew, so did the rifts between these four men when it came to creative and personality differences. After the release of 1979’s The Wall, followed by the group’s incredibly successful tour, the tension between Roger Waters and Richard Wright reached its peak. 1983’s The Final Cut would mark the first Pink Floyd album not to have Wright as part of the lineup. It also marked the final album Pink Floyd would have Roger Waters as a bandmate. This was followed by 1987’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason which would have Richard Wright return to Pink Floyd.

In 1994, Pink Floyd recorded and released the incredibly successful The Division Bell with Gilmour, Mason, and Wright as a trio. This was followed by 2014’s The Endless River. Throughout the course of Pink Floyd’s history as a musical group, its global popularity and influence were unparalleled. It still remains that way today. Speaking as a fan of Pink Floyd, I personally admit there has not been a recording artist that has tapped into my psyche as a music fan quite like them. Each time I heard David Gilmour’s voice chime in, it seemed to have a hypnotic effect.

Outside Pink

Aside from his recording career with Pink Floyd, David Gilmour also enjoyed a solo career. As mentioned previously, there were tensions brewing among the four men that summed up the core lineup of this British-based rock group. Feeling he was somewhat underutilized as a bandmate at times, Gilmour focused his musical energy on his first solo album. David Gilmour was released in 1978 that featured his songwriting skills, as well as his guitaring genius. It was during this time “Comfortably Numb” was put together as a song but didn’t quite make the cut in time for his self-titled debut recording. Instead, it graced its presence on The Wall. Gilmour’s debut sold enough copies in the US to become certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Between the recording sessions of The Wall and The Final Cut, the working relationship between Gilmour and Waters met with rising tensions between the two men. It was also during this time Richard Wright was fired from the lineup, a decision Gilmour didn’t personally agree with. As an outlet to release all the negative energy Gilmour felt at the time, 1984 witnessed the release of his second studio album as a solo artist, About Face. In addition to recording and touring on his own, he also collaborated with a collection of other recording artists. These include the Dream Academy, which led to the 1986 hit, “Life in a Northern Town,” as well as Roy Harper. Harper’s 1980 album, The Unknown Soldier, featured musical material Gilmour co-wrote with him. In 1984, Harper served as Gilmour’s backing vocalist when he recorded About Face. Just like his first album, this one also became certified gold with the RIAA.

In 2006, David Gilmour recorded and released his third studio album, On an Island. This became certified platinum with the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), as well as gold with Music Canada and Germany’s Bundesverband Musikindustrie (BVMI). 2015’s Rattle That Lock would mark Gilmour’s fourth studio recording as a solo artist. Again, he met with success as it earned gold certifications with the BPI and Germany’s BVMI. It was certified platinum in Italy with its recognition organization known as Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana (FIMI).

In addition to these studio recordings, Gilmour also released two live albums. The first was Live in Gdansk, which was part of his On an Island recording project. It was performed before a live audience at the Gdansk Shipyard in Poland as they collectively celebrated the 1980 founding of the Solidarity Trade Union. The second live recording from David Gilmour was Live at Pompeii, a 2017 release that featured his Rattle That Lock world tour that took place between 2015 and 2016.

Both live albums earned David Gilmour additional certified hits. Live in Gdansk became BPI gold while Live in Pompeii became FIMI gold. Going into 2019, Gilmour auctioned off 120 of his guitars for charity. From New York’s Christie’s Auction House, his Fender Stratosphere, Black Strat, sold for $3,975,000.00 USD. This was the same guitar that made its 1970 debut when David Gilmour played it before a live audience at Britain’s Bath Festival. It was marked the most expensive guitar ever sold at an auction at that time. Jim Isray, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts football team, added Gilmour’s Black Strat to his guitar collection. The proceeds of Gilmour’s sold guitars contributed to the $21,490,750.00 USD funds raised on behalf of the environmentalist charity group, ClientEarth.

Top Ten David Gilmour Solo Songs

#10 – Raise My Rent

In 1978, David Gilmour released his self-titled debut album recorded as his attempt to step out on his own as a solo artist from Pink Floyd’s shadow. As the iconic group reached the pinnacle of its popularity as a rock group, Gilmour’s need to unleash some pent-up energy came out in full force with his own tracklist. “Raise My Rent” was one fine example of Gilmour at his best. This instrumental number featured Gilmour’s signature guitar sound that defined his career as one of the music industry’s finest. The lengthy guitar solo delivered a beautifully complex bluesy rock performance only David Gilmour could pull off. For a great bluesy rock experience, “Raise My Rent” features Gilmour’s guitar to do all the talking in what truly is a timeless classic.

#9 – Rattle That Lock

What “Rattle That Lock” revealed was David Gilmour once again demonstrating why he is a musical legend. Even at seventy years of age, Gilmour proved he still had the chops to bring forth an incredible wave of music. On the music charts belonging to Belgium and France, “Rattle That Lock” peaked as high as number sixty-six and seventy-one, respectively. It was the title track from his fourth studio album, which was released in 2015. For David Gilmour, the inspiration behind “Rattle That Lock” came from a commercial jingle composed by Michael Boumendil.

David Gilmour had this recorded on his iPhone and attempted to make contact with Boumendil. However, the message he left at the time was perceived as a prank by the original songwriter so he never bothered to get back to him. The lyrics behind ‘Rattle That Lock” were written by Gilmour’s wife, Polly Samson. Using bits from John Milton’s book, Paradise Lost, she applied her songwriting talent to come up with something Gilmour could use as part of his musical vision.

#8 – Blue Light

From the 1984 album, About Face, “Blue Light” was a song performed by David Gilmour as his approach to disco music. The Francois Kevorkian remixed version of this song was released that same year and became a number sixty-two hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. It would be the only song credited to Gilmour as a solo artist that would earn a chart appearance on this particular music chart. As for the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart, “Blue Light” peaked higher at number thirty-five. What made “Blue Light” stand out as a favorite was Gilmour’s step into the disco scene in what sounded like a musical experiment that paid off. This is an enjoyable tune that can easily put listeners into a groovy mood.

#7 – On an Island

“On an Island” was a song recorded and released by David Gilmour in 2006. On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart, it peaked as high as number twenty-nine. This was also the title track of his third studio album as a solo recording artist. On the US Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay chart, it peaked even higher at number fourteen. This was a dreamy number that was loaded with ethereal energy. There are few guitarists that can master melodies and intensities like Gilmour. “On an Island” once again demonstrated the brilliance behind the man’s musical vision, inviting listeners to allow their ears to enjoy the melodic ride.

#6 – All Lovers Are Deranged

“All Lovers Are Deranged” was a collaborative song performed by David Gilmour and Pete Townsend. It was one of two songs Townsend wrote lyrics for that Gilmour added to the tracklist of his 1984 solo album, About Face. On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart, it peaked as high as number ten. “All Lovers Are Deranged” was a song that started with a great guitar riff that would dictate its energetic performance to the end. Speaking as a fan, this was a personal favorite as it felt like the real David Gilmour and the real Pete Townsend were unleashed. “All Lovers Are Deranged” behaved like a wild amusement park ride that was designed specifically for two people. Also speaking as the younger sister of a brother who once operated a few crazy rides back in the day, “All Lovers Are Deranged” was often played as a theme favorite.

#5 – Short and Sweet

In 1980, David Gilmour co-wrote songs with recording artist Roy Harper. The release of Harper’s album, The Unknown Soldier featured “Short and Sweet,” a song that originally appeared on Gilmour’s self-titled solo album in 1979. The song itself unofficially served as a precursor to Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell,” a song that would become part of The Wall, which was released in 1979. Despite the connection, “Short and Sweet” remains a distinct Gilmour classic. This song revealed a piece of Gilmour the fans of Pink Floyd never knew about. This song was deep and instrumental, similar to Floyd’s style, but featured an edgy guitar performance that felt like Gilmour was letting off some steam. Among his fan base, this was a great intro to a solo career Gilmour had no trouble capitalizing on.

#4 – Love on the Air

Released as a second single from David Gilmour’s 1984 album, About Face, was “Love on the Air.” Although it failed to chart, it eventually became a cult favorite among his fan base. The lyrics were written by Pete Townsend while the music itself was composed by Gilmour. While on tour, “Love on the Air” gained popularity as Gilmour performed it before a live audience. In 1985, he also played this as part of Townsend’s supergroup, Deep End which would later be released as a live recording in Live: Brixton Academy ’85 in 2004. What made “Love on the Air” so special was the reveal of two amazing musical talents branching out as artists who didn’t have to comply with the expectations of their bandmates. Townsend was the main songwriting genius behind The Who at the time.

#3 – Arnold Lane (David Gilmour solo live version)

When David Gilmour was on tour, promoting his third solo album, On an Island, he performed “Arnold Lane” before a live audience on April 17, 2006. With Richard Wright singing a song that originally came from the penmanship of Pink Floyd’s founder, Syd Barrett, this version became Gilmour’s biggest hit as a solo artist. The song itself wasn’t part of the 2006 release of On an Island but did become part of Gilmour’s list of songs he and Wright performed together in concert until the end of May 2006.

The live version of this song became a chart hit for Gilmour, peaking as high as number nineteen on the UK Singles Chart. It also peaked at number two in Italy, number seven in Denmark, and number twelve in Spain. To date, the Royal Albert Hall live version was Gilmour’s most successful single on the music charts as a solo artist. There were actually two live versions of “Arnold Lane” credited to Gilmour as a solo artist. One was sung by Wright while the other by David Bowie. Both of these versions are part of Gilmour’s Remember That Night live concert recording, which was released in DVD and Blu-ray formats in 2007.

The content of “Arnold Lane” was about a named transvestite who had a thing for women’s underwear. In order to feed his fixation on this gender-specific range of clothing, he’d steal various bras, knickers, and lingerie items off the washing lines. It was a song inspired by the young women that stayed at the home of Barrett’s mother. They were students who attended the college that was just down the road. Whenever their garments were draped along the washing lines in the backyard, the occasional item would find itself in the possession of this unusual, yet harmless, individual.

#2 – Murder

“Murder” was a song performed by David Gilmour in response to the violent death of John Lennon. The Beatles icon was one of Gilmour’s main influences that prompted him to embark on a musical career of his own. The true highlight of this song came from Pino Palladino. He was a bassist that beautifully laid out an instrumental bridge from Gilmour’s acoustic style to the electrified energy that gave “Murder” the dramatic effect it was designed to be. This song was part of the About Face tracklist, an album that was recorded and released by Gilmour in 1984. On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart, “Murder” peaked as high as number ten. As a guitarist, “Murder” had Gilmour at his best with the sheer power and emotion only he has the capability of doing as judge and jury.

#1 – There’s No Way Out of Here

Although “There’s No Way Out of Here” failed to make a chart appearance in Europe, it became a popular favorite among American radio stations that featured album-based rock. This song was originally recorded by Unicorn as “No Way Out of Here” for its 1976 album, Too Many Crooks. David Gilmour’s version served as a reflection of his attempt to shine on his own without the Pink Floyd brand. Sung as someone trapped in a situation that felt like there was no way out, Gilmour’s performance of “There’s No Way Out of Here” beautifully demonstrated why so many critics and fans regard him as a rock god.

Although the lyrics were written by Ken Baker, Gilmour performed this song as if it was his own. At the time, Pink Floyd was facing a clash of personalities that drove Gilmour to channel his musical energies into his first studio recording as a solo artist. His gamble paid off well as this song played a contributing factor to the success of David Gilmour when it was released in 1978. Despite the slow start, it eventually became certified gold by the RIAA.

Feature Photo: Jimmy Baikovicius, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

David Gilmour Related Articles on ClassicRockHistory.com

Complete List Of David Gilmour Albums And Discography

Top 10 David Gilmour Pink Floyd Songs

15 Brilliant David Gilmour Guitar Solos

David Gilmour’s Great Cover Of The Beatles Here, There and Everywhere

Ultimate Pink Floyd Page: Complete History, Songs, Albums & More

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