Lex Neon on Rick Wright of Pink Floyd (1943 – 2008)

I never thought I’d live to be old enough to hear of the passing of Rick Wright.

For the last few hours, I’ve been taking in the news.  I’ve been remembering all the “love notes” and “term papers” I wrote for my friends to give to their girlfriends; they’d pay me a dollar for each item.  I would take the money and buy Pink Floyd records.

I remember my mom’s resounding “no” when I asked if I could go and see Pink Floyd, who happened to be in town touring in support of The Wall.  They were performing 2 blocks away at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, and I was very upset.  Oddly enough, when I bought a copy of The Wall and played it she rather liked the music.  But, as she told me so many times before I could actually attend concerts, “I don’t want you hanging around with all of those pot smoking hippie weirdos.”

I didn’t even know what pot was!

Sometime during my freshman year in high school, I went beyond The Wall and Dark Side Of The Moon.  My friend Gary introduced me to a track called “Echoes.”  While passing each other in the hall during that first year, he grabbed me and placed the headphones of his Walkman over my ears.  “You must listen to this; you won’t be the same.”  I stood there listening for what felt like an eternity.  We were both very late for our next classes, but I didn’t care.  The song stayed in my head, and I went out to find the corresponding album, called Meddle.

Gary and I used to trade albums back and forth all of the time.  Once, he loaned me a Pink Floyd album called A Nice Pair, which were the first two Floyd albums (The Piper at The Gates of Dawn and Saucerful of Secrets) packaged together in a special “two-fer.”  Once I heard them, I offered to trade any 2 albums in my collection (he managed to get 2 Simon and Garfunkels, a Love album, and one Doors book).  This is where Rick Wright’s contribution to the Pink Floyd sound came into focus for me.

Besides Syd Barrett’s brilliant acid-washed pop songs, I was taken by Rick’s haunting sound coming from his choice of keyboard at the time, the Farfisa organ.  His technique colored the sound of the band’s music and added another choice flavor to the mix.  From Saucerful of Secrets, his songwriting contributions “Remember a Day” and “See Saw” were the stand-out tracks for me.  Later, when I came across a compilation of early Floyd called Relics, his song “Paintbox” made its way into my early repertoire of songs I learned on the piano.

At some point, I bought Atom Heart Mother.  I found this album very difficult to digest at first, especially the title track.  Once I flipped the record over to side two, I found a Rick Wright song called “Summer ’68.”  Almost from the beginning, I felt this song deeply.

Would you like to say something before you leave
Perhaps you’d care to state exactly how you feel
We said goodbye before we’ve said hello
I hardly even like you, I shouldn’t care at all
We met just six hours ago, the music was too loud
From your bed I gained a day and lost a bloody year
And I would like to know

How do you feel? How do you feel, how?

As I type my thoughts, with lump in throat, I’m listening to this song and think to myself, “I never thought I’d live to be old enough to hear of the passing of Rick Wright.”  It’s a sad day, and I’ve shed many tears while listening to his work.  So, it is with deep regret that I say, Goodbye, Rick.  Thanks for your contributions to one of my favorite bands.  Thanks for “Paintbox.”  And thank you for expressing how I felt all those hears ago when “Summer ’68” crossed the needle of my old stereo.

(Lex Neon is the musical mastermind behind the music of indie sunshine pop / rock band Poppermost.  For more info, go to http://www.poppermost.com/)

Please note: Atom Heart Mother was originally released on October 10, 1970.

Currently listening :
Atom Heart Mother
By Pink Floyd
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~ by Poppermost on September 16, 2008.

One Response to “Lex Neon on Rick Wright of Pink Floyd (1943 – 2008)”

  1. I was so saddened to hear this. RIP Rick. Thanks for everything!

    My friend made this tribute in memoriam http://www.redux.com/playlist/pink_floyds_richard_wright_in_memoriam .

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