Why “Echoes” Is Pink Floyd’s Best Song


YouTube is the greatest web site of all time. Don’t believe me? Think of something that interests you, anything at all.  Like birds? Trees? Shark attacks? Plane crashes? UFO sightings? Enjoy watching baseball brawls or that one time your favorite band was on Letterman? Nine out of ten times you will find it on YouTube along with a ton of other related and un-related content. You just won’t find any Neil Young albums on there but that’s a whole different blog post for another time.

Why do I bring up the necessary evil of the James Bond villain-esque evil conglomerate of Google’s YouTube? Because just this morning I was lurking around listening to music on there (note: YT is one of the best sites for actually listening to music. Their slogan should be “It’s not just for videos anymore!”) when I came upon some David Gilmour clips and found myself checking out a live version of the Pink Floyd song “Echoes” with the late, great Richard Wright. It got me thinking–yet again–about one of my all time favorite bands, because here I am 30+ years later after hearing Pink Floyd for the first time and I am still enamored with them just as I was the first time my brother put on “Dark Side of The Moon” and my adolescent brain couldn’t comprehend it.

Pink Floyd is/are/were one of the biggest “classic rock” bands of all time. I say classic rock in “quotes” because I, personally, don’t view The Floyd as classic rock. I know they are thrown in with the rest of their contemporaries but can you honestly tell me Floyd is rooted in the same sounds as The Who or The Stones or The God-Forsaken Eagles? I see them as having more in common with The Velvet Underground and Bowie than Led Zeppelin or Hendrix. The early Floyd didn’t write songs with your typical pop structures, melodies, or hooks. They were a “sound scape” band that were often misinterpreted as a “drug band” or “acid rock.” They would sound more at home on a sci-fi movie soundtrack than on Top of the Pops.

And at no point did that hit home harder than when Floyd ended their 1971 album Meddle with a song called “Echoes.” If you are a Floyd fan than you already know that many would consider this album to be the gateway between “early” Floyd and “mainstream” Floyd. Before Meddle, most of their songs contained long, atmospheric, soundscapes, no hits, no pop sensibilities, and nothing even close to being considered mainstream. Meddle was the first album that I would consider to contain the signature Floyd sound. And by that I mean the massive, melodic guitar solos, the excellent song writing, and the atmospheric tones. Everything was starting to come together for The Floyd at this point and the song that bridged the gaps between Atom Heart Mother and Wish You Were Here is “Echoes.”

Chiming in at 23:32 there was absolutely zero chance this song would ever get played on celestial radio. There is no chorus, the lyrics are unintentionally humorous (in a corny, trippy way), and there is a breakdown in the middle of the song that can only be described as the sounds of a bad acid trip (or the death of an albatross). Digestible it is not.

And I love every second of the song.

From the opening phased up piano key notes to the ridiculously heavy guitar riffs that precede the “funk breakdown” the song has everything that any Floyd fan should love. It’s almost as if the song is the full representation of their sound: atmospheric, melodic, heavy, and funky (I need to point out here that while no one would ever call Floyd a funk band, when they wanted to, they certainly could kick out some phat ass grooves). “Echoes” was a bold statement for a band that had yet to really accomplish anything in terms of mainstream success. Sure, they might have been the indie darlings of a psychedelic London underground at one point but they were far from the later success’ they would come to be defined by. Could you imagine a “new” band trying to release a 25 minute song in today’s market? And the record company being okay with it?!?!?

Pink Floyd are known for many other songs besides “Echoes.” Hardcore fans might know and love it but most people will continue to define the band by their “Dark Side –> The Wall” output. “Money”, “Another Brick In The Wall”, “Comfortably Numb”, and “Wish You Were Here” will always be the bands most popular songs. But I could stand to never hear any of those songs again. It’s not that I don’t think each song is great (cause they are, and I will also say, on the record, that I think the guitar solo in “Comfortably Numb” is the greatest rock guitar solo ever written. Note I didn’t say played, I said written) it’s just that I will never stop listening to “Echoes.” The mind frame it puts me in. The mood it creates. The blazing guitar solos, the incredibly funky bridge, the tripped out breakdown, the uplifting outro, all make for what I consider The Best Pink Floyd Song Ever.

Does this mean that “Echoes” should be the first song you play for someone who has never heard Pink Floyd (do those people actually exist?)? No. That would be like trying to make a first grader read The Iliad before reading Curious George. “Echoes” is like that finely aged wine that only a few people’s taste will fully appreciate, but once you do…

And of course, there is the Live at Pompeii version, which might just go down as the coolest live performance of a song ever filmed.



    1. It’s not only the best PF song, it’s – in my humble opinion – one of the most touching pieces ever written (including Schubert’s sonata for piano op. 960 which I adore nearly as much).


  1. Not my taste. I’d much rather hear a Stones song or Velvet Underground anytime. It’s a bloated stadium rock tune with the obligatory light show.


  2. I strongly agree. As a matter of fact, I googled “is echoes the best pink floyd song?” and that’s how I got here. I’ve been a Floyd fan for 35 years and have heard all their albums numerous times. But a career transition right now into software development and coding have me listening to, of all things, a large collection of live bootleg concerts I’ve discovered. And Meddle has become my ‘coding’ album of choice. It gets me standing up and banging on the keyboard and no song more the Echoes. The entire song, every note. This song urges me to eat some peyote, run around the desert, and howl and the moon al the while tearing with joy that I am alive and aware of my present moment. Alright, maybe that’s a bit over the top but the boys rocked that one. It’s their Stairway to Heaven.


    1. The same here – i came to this page searching for a phrase “is the Echoes the most influencing song of Pink Floyd?”. And.. also i find it best for coding while listening, strange..


  3. Several of the boys in the band replied, when asked which album was their most important, it wasn’t an album, per se, but a single cut. Guess which one. I agree; Echos is Pink Floyd’s greatest statement – the turning point between early and mainstream Floyd. Rick Wright was one funky B3 dude. In 1971, I went to sleep every night listening to Echos. Today, I commute an hour each way and I usually listen to Echos, until I get heavied out and have to put it down for a while. But I always pick it back up.


  4. This track has so much to offer. The way the intruments/sounds are being introduced one by one, and the mood they set, then the build-ups that fade only to pick up again more dramatically, as if to emphasise a point, and then some wacky stuff in the middle, and then ending on a concluding song with piano accompagniment. This is my favourite track for skating for these reasons. The slow tempo inbetween allows rest for the legs and thereby slower skating, and then the build-up beginning at 5:30 and ending 7:00 allows a lot of improvised quick steps, quirky turns and pirouettes. Love it.


  5. I agree with you though I also consider that there are some other songs that could be the best in Pfs catalogue, but then again nothing like Echoes


  6. Agree. Been listening to Floyd since 1977 and yes Echoes is the one song I couldn’t bear to be without. I listened to it when I first read Lord of the Rings and for me, the breakdown in the middle, is reminiscent of the Nazgul. Still listen to it at least once a week on my iPod and as soon as the song opens I’m in a different place – as I said to my son, that’s what I got me ‘high’ when I was a teenager.


  7. I have probably spent months cumulatively listening to Echoes. It never gets old; The minimal lyrics, and the fact they don’t tell you what to think but instead getting you thinking, that is part of its timelessness. It also relates heavily to mystery and nostalgia – the language of the soul.

    My personal favourite iterations:
    – Live in Pompeii, 2016 – Obfusc/ation
    – Live in Gdansk
    – 5.1 Remaster hidden in the early years boxset.. better than the original IMO.


      1. 2008. It was Gilmours tour, with Wright on keyboards. They played his new album but also some classic Floyd.

        High Hopes is also amazing in that performance too.

  8. Echos is their greatest song. I feel I leads in beautifully to Dark Side. I’m a huge PF fan, but most of their”singles” are better when as part of an album. (I have a irrational dislike for “Money,” but it’s so too when listening to the whole album). This is the only PF song that I can listen to by itself and with out playing the whole album. (Meddle is my 2nd fav PF album).


  9. Echoes is otherwordly. It is culmination of human beings musical inspiration. Even classical great pieces cannot compete with PF. Amen


  10. Totally agree. Even if I consider “Dark Side” as a one-track album or the 26 minutes of “Shine On”, there’s nothing thet can reach the perfection of Echoes.
    It is like the synthesis of infinity-timelessness, universe-quark, being-not being.
    Absolutely agree also with the fact that is not an easy song to listen; it requires a deep reflection about the “atmosphere” that recreates and a large knowledge of Pink Floyd’s music. I generally compare (also if they’ve totally different porpouses) Echoes with “Trout Mask Replica”: the last that you discover, the first that truly penetrates in your brain.

    I’m sure that we can put it in the Empyrean of artistic compositions prduced by the human kind.


  11. I honestly don’t know.
    The fact is that, when you start getting really into music listening, you stop focusing on the “common sense” particulars and you start looking at the whole structure of the song, or even at the role of an instrumental part in the entire album.
    When I was 13 I was astonished by solos, remember myself googling for “top 100 greatest” or things like that… the fact is that now I’m 22, I listen to a lot wider generes of music, know much more things, and I simply don’t care about solos.

    Now I look for “mind-blowing” art, the kind of art which leaves you “empty” and self-conscious of your deep ignorance of the Universe. Surely the shepard scale in “Echoes” it is. Surely the seventh stanza in Heroin. Surely Wyatt, Aphex Twin, Steve Roach and so on…

    So, what’s the best guitar solo ever? Maybe some guitar noise inside an unknown album.
    Search yourself for your music, because the best solo ever is your favourite one: the only important thing is that it must not remain in first place forever.


  12. A Saucerful of Secrets was my introduction to Pink Floyd in 1969 and Ummagumma was my first disc purchase. Although I have other favorites, Sorrow for instance and Run too, Echoes is the epitome of Pink Floyd and Meddle is their greatest album. 53 years later Pink Floyd is still unchallenged and I never tire of Echoes. All good things must come to an end and saying goodbye to Rick is sadly the end of Floyd IMHO.


  13. I love Echoes; it’s a spiritual experience for me because I heard it at a party and didn’t find out who was doing it until six months later. I couldn’t believe it! up until then my favourite track of all time was , “Careful with that axe Eugene”.; I’d seen it live and nothing compared. I’d been away in France hitch hiking and picking grapes and really out of touch. Can you imagine how I felt when I knew , “Echoes”, was by the same band that did, ” Careful with that axe!” Dark side of the moon and Wish you were here and there phenomenal success was no surprise to me; it was justice!. It was inconceivable that Floyd could do any better stuff, but Rodgers lyrics zinged in The Wall; as did David’s Solo’s. I’ve been a Floyd fan for fifty years and I still love Echoes. I think David and Rick have amazing voices and that their other talents are so enormous, they make us overlook the beautiful soulful sounds they uniquely created. I do think Echoes is a situation where all of the talents came together in an outpouring of beautiful creativity. Anyone who heard Nick play, “Set the controls for the heart of the sun”, will know he was a cornerstone to the band and in echoes he executes this wonderful scampering of sound that explodes into Rodgers , “Cloudlessly each day you fall upon my waking eyes”
    “Brilliant ; lyrics, guitar, voices production…Everything! The ultimate track!


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