It isn’t every day that a member of one of the most celebrated rock acts of all time takes time out to give a public masterclass in the genesis of song-writing for a ticket price of less than €20.
The Festival of Writing & Ideas hosted at Borris House, Co Carlow, now in its fourth year, has continued to draw some of the world’s most celebrated thinkers but this year it managed to secure Pink Floyd guitarist and songwriter David Gilmour, who decided to share the stage with his wife, novelist Polly Samson.
Gilmour, to the surprise of the music world, also used the small setting to reveal that his next solo album, due in September to coincide with his first solo tour in a decade, will be called Rattle That Lock.
Pink Floyd, most famous for its albums The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, owed much of its synergy to the mercurial relationship between Gilmour and Roger Waters, a songwriting partnership that gradually imploded.
“I like singing, I like the sound of the human voice,” admitted Gilmour, a regular attendee at the Borris festival, though he hasn’t performed there before.
“There is no conscious knowledge in me of what I am writing about. I am looking for an emotion to transmit into music.”
Gilmour illustrated the point by humming along to ‘High Hopes’, which he co-wrote with Samson and which appears on The Division Bell.
With the occasional reference to working with Waters (“Roger was a brilliant writer of lyrics and working together was brilliant, but things run its course and that one did”), Gilmour was happiest discussing his past, present, and future compositions with Samson. “Now I think I am working with a lyricist who is better than Roger,” he said.
Pink Floyd aficionados among the bookish audience were delighted when Gilmour brandished his acoustic guitar to play snippets from his forthcoming album, such as ‘The Girl in the Yellow Dress’.
“Songs tend to burst out of their own volition,” said Gilmour, who also strummed and sung the first verse of his song, ‘Smile’, remarking that he is in the habit of “jotting down little moments, which can be 10 seconds long, and I file them away”.
One such epiphany occurred in France, when Gilmour waited patiently on a platform, his hand in the air hoisting his iPhone to record the rhythmical chimes of a tannoy in a train station: The result is ‘Boots on the Ground’, which is also on the Phil Manzanera-produced Rattle That Lock. Samson likened the album as thematically akin to carpe diem: “Seize every moment and don’t be afraid to hold back.”
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