Song of the Day, September 22: The Great Gig in the Sky by Pink Floyd

FloydTorryGigToday’s song is a rock classic that resulted in an unusual writing credit. Pink Floyd had tested most of the material that would become The Dark Side of the Moon live well before entering the studio. One element, tentatively known as The Mortality Sequence was a wonderful chord progression written by Richard Wright on organ. When recording began, he polished it up and switched to piano. Everyone involved agreed that it was lovely music but needed something more.

Producer Alan Parsons suggested that they bring in a singer whose work he liked. Clare Torry wasn’t too keen, but schedules finally meshed and she came in. The band gave her minimal direction, in Roger Waters’ recollection “it’s about dying — have a bit of a sing on that.” After a false start, she decided to make her voice an instrument on the track, providing the now-famous wail that is one of the album’s highlights.

Torry did two takes and started a third before she decided she was becoming repetitive. She got her flat studio wage and headed home, not even certain her work would be used until she saw her name in the credits of the album after its release.

The album went on to be one of the finest and best-selling rock discs of all time. Torry eventually decided that her contribution was worth a bit more than the £60 she earned, and she sued for songwriting royalties. While the resolution to the matter was never formally disclosed, all releases since 2005 show the credit “Richard Wright and Clare Torry” for The Great Gig In the Sky.

Enjoy this amazing classic today.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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