Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

Last updated
"Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun"
Song by Pink Floyd
from the album A Saucerful of Secrets
PublishedMagdalene Music
Released29 June 1968 (UK)
27 July 1968 (US)
Recorded7–8 August, October 1967, January 1968
Abbey Road Studios, London
Genre
Length5:27 (A Saucerful of Secrets version)
9:27 (Ummagumma live version)
Label EMI Columbia (UK)
Tower (US)
Songwriter(s) Roger Waters
Producer(s) Norman Smith
Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd track listing

"Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" is a song by the English rock band Pink Floyd. It appeared on their second album, A Saucerful of Secrets (1968). [3] It was written by Roger Waters [3] and features a drum part by Nick Mason played with timpani mallets. The track was planned for release as a single, with "Scream Thy Last Scream", on 8 September, before it was vetoed by the band's record company, EMI. [4] The song was regularly performed between 1967 and 1973 [3] and can be heard on the live disc of the 1969 album Ummagumma [3] and seen in the 1972 movie Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii . [3] The song is one of two songs from A Saucerful of Secrets that appears on the 2001 compilation album Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd [5] (the other being "Jugband Blues") and is the only song recorded by Pink Floyd to feature material from all five band members, as there are several different guitar parts recorded by both David Gilmour and Syd Barrett.

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily from the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly from a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Pink Floyd English rock band

Pink Floyd were an English rock band formed in London in 1965. Gaining a following as a psychedelic band, they were distinguished for their extended compositions, sonic experimentation, philosophical lyrics and elaborate live shows, and became a leading band of the progressive rock genre. They are one of the most commercially successful and influential groups in popular music history.

<i>A Saucerful of Secrets</i> 1968 studio album by Pink Floyd

A Saucerful of Secrets is the second studio album by the English rock band Pink Floyd, released on 29 June 1968 by EMI Columbia in the United Kingdom and released on 27 July 1968 in the United States by Tower Records. The album was recorded before and after Syd Barrett's departure from the group. With Barrett's behaviour becoming increasingly unpredictable, David Gilmour was recruited to complement Barrett, and eventually to replace him.

Contents

Lyrics and music

According to an interview with Gilmour in the 2006 documentary Which One's Pink?, the studio version of the song contained minor guitar work both from Gilmour and Barrett, making "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" the only Pink Floyd song that features all five band members, though some listeners may not fully discern the guitar tracks as they largely blend in with Richard Wright's keyboards and organs.

Richard Wright (musician) English keyboardist of Pink Floyd

Richard William Wright was an English musician, composer, singer, and songwriter. He was a founder member, keyboardist, and vocalist of the progressive rock band Pink Floyd, performing on all but one of the group's albums including The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Division Bell, and playing on all of their tours.

The song's recording commenced in August 1967, with overdubs recorded in October of that year and in January 1968. In an article reprinted in the Bruno McDonald book Pink Floyd – Through the Eyes of ..., Waters borrowed the lyrics from a book of Chinese poetry from the Tang Dynasty (which was later identified as the book Poems of the late T'ang, translated by A.C. Graham). [6]

Chinese poetry literary tradition of China

Chinese poetry is poetry written, spoken, or chanted in the Chinese language. While this last term comprises Classical Chinese, Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Yue Chinese, and other historical and vernacular forms of the language, its poetry generally falls into one of two primary types, Classical Chinese poetry and Modern Chinese poetry.

Among the borrowed lines from Chinese poetry (as translated by Graham) were those written by Li He, whose poem "Don't Go Out of the Door" contains the line "Witness the man who raved at the wall as he wrote his questions to Heaven "; [7] Li Shangyin, whose poetry contained the lines "watch little by little the night turns around", "countless the twigs which tremble in dawn" and "one inch of love is one inch of ashes"; and Du Mu, whose poetry contained the line "Lotuses lean on each other in yearning" (多少綠荷相倚恨).

Li He Chinese writer

Li He was a Chinese poet of the mid-Tang dynasty. His courtesy name was Changji, and he is also known as Guicai and Shigui.

<i>Heavenly Questions</i> poem written by Qu Yuan

The Heavenly Questions or Questions to Heaven is a piece contained in the Classical Chinese poetry collection of Chu Ci, which is noted both in terms of poetry and as a source for information on the ancient culture of China, especially the area of the ancient state of Chu. Of all the poems attributed to Qu Yuan, "Tianwen" contains more myths than any of the other pieces which may be attributed to him; however, due to the formal structure of "Tianwen" as a series of questions, information regarding the myths alluded to appear more as a series of allusive fragments than as cohesively narrated stories. According to legend, Qu Yuan wrote this series of questions in verse after viewing various scenes depicted on temple murals; specifically, it is said that following his exile from the royal court of Chu, Qu Yuan looked upon the depictions of the ancestors and the gods painted upon the walls of the ancestral temple of Chu; and, then, in response, wrote his questions to Heaven, upon these same walls.

Li Shangyin Chinese poet and writer

Li Shangyin, courtesy name Yishan (義山), was a Chinese poet and politician of the late Tang Dynasty, born in Henei. Along with Li He, he was much admired and "rediscovered" in the 20th century by young Chinese writers for the imagist quality of his poems. He is particularly famous for his tantalizing "no title" (無題) poems.

Reception

In a negative review for A Saucerful of Secrets, Jim Miller of Rolling Stone described "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun", along with "Let There Be More Light", as "boring melodically, harmonically, and lyrically." [8] Miller further described the production work as "not as glittery as the first album's, and the instrumental work is shoddy and routine. [8] Miller also described the track as too long. [8]

Let There Be More Light original song written and composed by Roger Waters

"Let There Be More Light" is the opening track on Pink Floyd's second album A Saucerful of Secrets. It was also released in edited form as the fourth American single by the group.

Personnel

Roger Waters English songwriter and musician, co-founder of Pink Floyd

George Roger Waters is an English songwriter, singer, bassist, and composer. In 1965, he co-founded the progressive rock band Pink Floyd. Waters initially served solely as the bassist, but following the departure of songwriter Syd Barrett in 1968, he also became their lyricist, co-lead vocalist, and conceptual leader.

The lead vocalist in popular music is typically the member of a group or band whose voice is the most prominent in a performance where multiple voices may be heard. The lead singer either leads the vocal ensemble, or sets against the ensemble as the dominant sound. In vocal group performances, notably in soul and gospel music, and early rock and roll, the lead singer takes the main vocal part, with a chorus provided by other band members as backing vocalists.

The bass guitar is a plucked string instrument similar in appearance and construction to an electric or an acoustic guitar, except with a longer neck and scale length, and typically four to six strings or courses. Since the 1960s, the bass guitar has largely replaced the double bass in popular music.

Alternative and live versions

Pink Floyd performed the song from 1967 to 1973. A performance on 9 September 1967 featured Barrett and Waters switching guitars. [9] The last ever performance of the song by Pink Floyd took place on 13 October 1973 at the Stadthalle, Vienna, during the Dark Side of the Moon tour.[ citation needed ] . Live versions of the song appear on the 1969 Ummagumma album and the 1972 Live at Pompeii music film. During these live performances, the song was significantly extended with a wide range of dynamics, including a white noise middle section. [10] [11]

Waters performing the track on his The Dark Side of the Moon Live tour Set the Controls.jpg
Waters performing the track on his The Dark Side of the Moon Live tour

The song has been a staple in Waters' solo tours. Beginning with the 1984–1985 tours, "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" was presented in a radically rearranged rendition - with female backing vocals, saxophone solos and a guitar solo (and even a shakuhachi solo in 1985). A truncated version (just the three verses) of the song featuring a simple acoustic guitar part was performed on a handful of occasions during the Radio K.A.O.S tour of 1987. The song was included in the setlist for his 19992002 In the Flesh tour, featuring stills from the promotional videos of "Arnold Layne" and "The Scarecrow" projected on large screens. This version featured a psychedelic guitar solo by Snowy White, as well as a sax solo, and this version appears on his 2000 In the Flesh – Live DVD and live album. In June 2002, Waters' former Pink Floyd bandmate Nick Mason performed as guest drummer on the track for two nights at London's Wembley Arena, the first indication of a reconciliation following the acrimonious split of the mid-1980s. It was also performed at Waters' 2006–2008 tour. [12]

In 2016, Waters performed the song again on his concerts at the Zocalo Square and Foro Sol in Mexico, as well as the Desert Trip festival in the United States, but it was dropped from the setlist of his 2017 Us + Them Tour.

The song was played by Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets between 2018 and 2019. [13] During an April 18, 2019 performance in New York City, Roger Waters made an appearance performing lead vocals and gong. [14]

Cover versions

Related Research Articles

"A Saucerful of Secrets" is a multi-part instrumental composition by progressive rock band Pink Floyd from their 1968 album of the same name. It is nearly 12 minutes long and was composed by Roger Waters, Richard Wright, Nick Mason and David Gilmour. The track features guitar feedback, a percussion solo section and wordless vocals.

<i>A Nice Pair</i> 1973 compilation album by Pink Floyd

A Nice Pair is a compilation album by Pink Floyd, re-issuing their first two albums—The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and A Saucerful of Secrets—in a new gatefold sleeve. The album was released in December 1973 by Harvest and Capitol in the United States and the following month in the United Kingdom by Harvest and EMI. It reached number 36 in the US Billboard album charts, and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in March 1994.

<i>Shine On</i> (Pink Floyd box set) 1992 box set by Pink Floyd

Shine On is a nine-CD box set by English progressive rock band Pink Floyd, released in 1992 through EMI Records in the United Kingdom and Columbia Records in the United States, to coincide with Pink Floyd's 25th anniversary as a recording and touring band. All CDs were digitally remastered.

See Emily Play original song written and composed by Syd Barrett

"See Emily Play" is a song by English rock band Pink Floyd, released as their second single in June 1967. Written by original frontman Syd Barrett and recorded on 23 May 1967, it featured "The Scarecrow" as its B-side. It was released as a non-album single, but appeared as the opening track of the American edition of their debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967).

Interstellar Overdrive semi-improvised instrumental piece by Pink Floyd

"Interstellar Overdrive" is an instrumental composition written and performed by Pink Floyd. The song was written in 1966 and is on their 1967 debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, clocking in at almost ten minutes in length.

"The Scarecrow" is a song by Pink Floyd on their 1967 debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, though it first appeared as the B-side of their second single "See Emily Play" two months before. It was written by Syd Barrett and recorded in March 1967. This song was one of several to be considered for the band's "best of" album, Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd.

Fearless (Pink Floyd song) song by Pink Floyd

"Fearless" is the third track on the 1971 album Meddle by Pink Floyd. This song was one of several to be considered for the band's "best of" album, Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd.

"Remember a Day" is a song by the British psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd, written and sung by their keyboardist Rick Wright, appearing on their second album, A Saucerful of Secrets (1968). It was performed by Pink Floyd only once, as an encore in May 1968; it was subsequently performed by David Gilmour in September 2008 in memory of Wright, who had recently died of cancer, and by Nick Mason during his Saucerful of Secrets tour. The dreamy, poetic lyrics are about nostalgia for the lost paradise of early childhood.

"Astronomy Domine" is a song by English rock band Pink Floyd. The song, written and composed by original vocalist/guitarist Syd Barrett, was the first track featured on their debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967). The lead vocal was sung by Barrett and keyboard player Richard Wright. Its working title was "Astronomy Domine ". "Domine" is a word frequently used in Gregorian chants.

The Nile Song original song written and composed by Roger Waters

"The Nile Song" is the second song from Pink Floyd's 1969 album, More, the soundtrack to the film of the same name. Released as a single in 1969, it was written by Roger Waters and sung by David Gilmour. It is similar to another song on the album, "Ibiza Bar". While the song was never performed live by Pink Floyd, the song was played by Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets in 2018.

"Green Is the Colour" is a track on Pink Floyd's 1969 More. It was composed and written by Roger Waters and sung by David Gilmour. A tin whistle is heard in the song, played by drummer Nick Mason's then-wife Lindy. A live version of the song was released as the third single to promote The Early Years 1965–1972 box set in October 2016.

"Vegetable Man" is a song written by Syd Barrett for the English rock band Pink Floyd in 1967. It was considered for the band's third single or for inclusion on their second album A Saucerful of Secrets. Bootlegged for decades, the song did not have an official release until 2016, when it was included on the box set The Early Years 1965–1972.

Pink Floyd World Tour 1968 was a Pink Floyd world tour spanning February to December 1968 in which the group visited Europe and North America.

The 1971 Meddle tour was a short concert tour by the British band Pink Floyd. It began in October 1971 and ended in November of the same year. It was intended to promote their new album Meddle in the United States and Canada, however some of the album's material had already been played during the band's Atom Heart Mother World Tour. The practice of playing songs before their official release later became a tradition for the group following the Meddle tour. The set list played during the tour was varied, with the band playing material from their previous albums A Saucerful of Secrets, More, and Atom Heart Mother, plus the newly released Meddle. The tour would also feature the final time "Embryo", "Fat Old Sun" and "Cymbaline" would be played by the band live.

One of These Days (instrumental) Pink Floyd instrumental

"One of These Days" is the opening track from Pink Floyd's 1971 album Meddle. The composition is instrumental except for the only spoken line from drummer Nick Mason, "One of these days I'm going to cut you into little pieces." It features double-tracked bass guitars played by David Gilmour and Roger Waters, with each bass hard panned into one channel of stereo, but one bass sound is quite muted and dull. According to Gilmour, this is because that particular instrument had old strings on it, and the roadie they had sent to get new strings for it wandered off to see his girlfriend instead.

<i>The Early Years 1965–1972</i> 2016 27-disc box set of rarities, outtakes and live recordings by Pink Floyd

The Early Years 1965–1972 is a 33-disc compilation box set by Pink Floyd released on 11 November 2016. It was officially announced 28 July 2016. The set includes seven volumes with CDs, DVDs, BDs, vinyl records and memorabilia including photos, posters and tour programmes. It contains early non-album singles plus unreleased studio and live recordings. Although Volumes 1–6 have been available individually since 24 March 2017, Volume 7 – 1967-1972: Continu/ation, remains exclusive to the set. A two-CD compilation titled The Early Years – Cre/ation was also made available.

Nick Masons Saucerful of Secrets

Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets are an English psychedelic rock band formed in 2018 by drummer Nick Mason and guitarist Lee Harris to perform the early music of Mason's band Pink Floyd. The band also includes Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet on guitars and vocals and longtime Pink Floyd collaborator Guy Pratt on bass and vocals. Mason said the group were not a tribute band, but wanted to "capture the spirit" of the era; he stressed that Kemp was not a replacement for original Pink Floyd frontman Syd Barrett, who left the band in 1968.

References

  1. "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun Review". Stewart Mason. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  2. Gulla, Bob (2009). "David Gilmour". Guitar Gods: The 25 Players Who Made Rock History. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 92. ISBN   0-313-35806-0.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus. ISBN   0-7119-4301-X.
  4. Palacios, Julian (1998). "'Like Summer Tempests Came His Tears' (July 1967–January 1968)". Lost in the Woods: Syd Barrett and the Pink Floyd. London: Boxtree. p. 180. ISBN   0-7522-2328-3.
  5. "Echoes: the album credits". Pink Floyd. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  6. Allusions to Classical Chinese poetry in Pink Floyd
  7. Palacios, Julian (2010). Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark globe. London: Plexus. p. 265. ISBN   978-0-85965-431-9. Waters borrows a succinct line from 9th-century poet Li He's 'Don't Go Out of the Door', which appeared in the original poem as: 'Witness the man who raved at the wall as he wrote his questions to Heaven.'
  8. 1 2 3 Miller, Jim (26 October 1968). "A Saucerful of Secrets". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  9. Palacios, Julian (2010). "Summer Tempests". Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe (Rev. ed.). London: Plexus. p. 271. ISBN   0-85965-431-1.
  10. Manning, Toby (2006). "The Albums". The Rough Guide to Pink Floyd (1st ed.). London: Rough Guides. p. 160. ISBN   1-84353-575-0.
  11. Mason, Stewart. "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun - Pink Floyd : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  12. Sweeting, Adam (20 May 2008). "Roger Waters: set the controls for the heart of the Floyd". Telegraph. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  13. https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/nick-mason/2018/the-half-moon-london-england-3bed3048.html
  14. https://consequenceofsound.net/2019/04/roger-waters-nick-mason-nyc-watch/
  15. "Red Temple Spirits: If Tomorrow I Were Leavin' for Lhasa, I wouldn't Stay a Minute More > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  16. "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Bass - Bassomatic | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  17. "Nemesis (9) - Xcelsior". Discogs. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  18. "Nightstick - Blotter". Discogs. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  19. "Psychic TV - Trip Reset". Discogs. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  20. "OSI - Office Of Strategic Influence". Discogs. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  21. "Ø - Oleva". Discogs. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  22. "Revelations of the Black Flame - 1349 | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  23. "AyseDeniz Gokcin - Pink Floyd Classical Concept". Discogs. Retrieved 23 July 2017.