top of page
Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here

Pink Floyd
Wish You Were Here

Song Meaning and Background of Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

With tensions running high during the recording of the album, Wish You Were Here, Roger Waters and David Gilmour were able to unite for its title track, a composition dedicated for their former frontman Syd Barrett.

Barrett mysteriously appeared in the studio during the recording and no-one in the band could identify him. “He stood up and said, ‘Right, when do I put my guitar on?’” keyboardist Rick Wright recalled. “And, of course, he didn’t have a guitar with him. And we said, ‘Sorry, Syd, the guitar’s all done.’”

In the original album version, the song segues from "Have a Cigar" as if a radio had been tuned away from one station, through several others and finally to a new station where "Wish You Were Here" is beginning.

The radio was recorded from Gilmour's car radio. He performed the intro on a twelve-string guitar, processed to sound like it was playing through an AM radio, and then overdubbed a fuller-sounding acoustic guitar solo.

This passage was mixed to sound as though a guitarist were listening to the radio and playing along.

As the acoustic part becomes more complex, the "radio broadcast" fades away and Gilmour's voice enters, while the rest of the band joins in.

The intro riff is repeated several times before Gilmour plays further solos with vocals.

At the end of the recorded song, the final solo crossfades with wind sound effects, and finally segues into the second section of the multi-part suite "Shine On You Crazy Diamond".

Lyrically, the song is a tribute to Syd Barrett.

However, on the documentary The Story of Wish You Were Here, Gilmour and Waters separately describe the original concept that differs from this interpretation. Waters, who mainly wrote the lyrics complementing Gilmour's initial riff idea and subsequent joint composition, describes the lyrics as being directed at himself, as his lyrics often are.

Being present in one's own life and freeing one's self in order to truly experience life is a main topic in this song. Gilmour, on the other hand, recognizes that he never performs the song without remembering Syd Barrett. Waters later adds that the song is nevertheless open to interpretation.

Both Gilmour and Waters have praised the song as one of Pink Floyd's finest. Waters has noted that the collaboration between himself and Gilmour on the song was "really good. All bits of it are really, really good. I'm very happy about it."

Gilmour has playfully called "Wish You Were Here" "a very simple country song" and stated that "because of its resonance and the emotional weight it carries, it is one of our best songs."

Lyrics of Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

And disciplinary remains mercifully

Yes and um, I'm with you Derek, this star nonsense

Yes, yes, now which is it?

I am sure of it


So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell, blue skies from pain

Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?

A smile from a veil?

Do you think you can tell?


Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?

Hot ashes for trees?

Hot air for a cool breeze?

Cold comfort for change?

Did you exchange

A walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?


How I wish, how I wish you were here

We're just two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl, year after year

Running over the same old ground

What have we found?

The same old fears

Wish you were here

Release Date



David Gilmour, Roger Waters


Pink Floyd


Harvest, Columbia

Other Songs

bottom of page