The Dark Side of the Moon
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Song Name: The Great Gig in the Sky

Artist: Pink Floyd

Album: The Dark Side of the Moon, Shine On, Echoes: The Best Of Pink Floyd

Run Time: 4:15

Year: 1973

Track Number: 5

Sung By: Clare Torry

Written By: Richard Wright, Clare Torry

Echoes: The Best Of Pink Floyd
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The Great Gig in the Sky
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Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun


  • The song was called "The Religion Song" during recording.
  • In an interview, Torry mentioned that she was trying to emulate an instrument. So it was, from all published accounts, an improvisation with Torry apparently using her songwriting skills to give it form and function.
    Pink Floyd - The Great Gig in the Sky (Screen Film 1973 Version -1)

    Pink Floyd - The Great Gig in the Sky (Screen Film 1973 Version -1).avi

  • In fact, she mentions in her interview that she was never clearly told that the song was about death. In a different interview on the DVD "The Dark Side of the Moon" (Eagle Vision EV 30042-9 US NTSC version), Richard Wright mentions that she began singing words and they knew they didn't want that. Published interviews mention that she recorded the takes very quickly - on the DVD, the track sheet shows four tracks used for her vocals.
  • In her interview, she mentions that an accountant at Abbey Road called her; other interviews with band members mentioned that Alan Parsons suggested her.
  • Chris Thomas, who was brought in to assist Alan Parsons in mixing the album (arguments over the use of overall compression supposedly ensued) mentions that they were actually in mixdown at the time. On the DVD, various members mention that they had this song and weren't quite sure what to do with it. Wright further mentions that when she finished, she was apologetic about her performance even though those present were amazed at her improvisation.
  • In Torry's interview she mentions that she left thinking that it wouldn't be included on the final cut. In fact, she states that the only way she knew it was used was when she saw it at a local record store, saw her name in the credits and purchased it.
  • During live performances by Pink Floyd, up to three singers were used, each taking different parts of the song. For example, Durga McBroom performed on the A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell tours, as well as at Knebworth and on Gilmour's solo tours.
  • Aside from the soaring vocals there are two spoken parts, an introduction at 0:38 spoken by Gerry O'Driscoll (an Irish Abbey Road Studios doorman at the time), and Patricia "Puddie" Watts (wife of roadie Peter Watts, and mother of actress Naomi Watts) voice at 3:33.
  • In 2004, Torry sued Pink Floyd and EMI for songwriting royalties, on the basis that her contribution to "Great Gig in the Sky" constituted co-authorship with Rick Wright; originally, she was paid the standard Sunday flat studio rate of £30. In 2005, a settlement was reached in High Court in Torry's favour, although terms were not disclosed In the P*U*L*S*E DVD booklet, The Great Gig in the Sky is credited to Wright and "vocal composition by Clare Torry".
  • Most of the song is a slightly altered arrangement of the beat and bassline from the song "Breathe". The beat and bassline were very much part of Pink Floyd's playing style as far back as Atom Heart Mother. However, due to the altered beat and bassline, it is not directly related to "Breathe", unlike the last part of "Time" (sometimes listed in songbooks as "Breathe (Reprise)"), and "Any Colour You Like" (sometimes nicknamed "Breathe (2nd Reprise)").
  • When the Dark Side of the Moon suite was performed in 1972 (before the album was released), the song was completely different and went under the title "The Mortality Sequence". Then, it was simply an organ and samples of people speaking about death being played during the performance.
  • At the end the song, with about 13 seconds left, the track speeds up. This puts the music slightly out of tune.
  • A re-recorded version piece was used as the backing music in a UK television advert for an analgesic (Nurofen) in the early '90s (the band were not involved in this version, but Clare Torry again did the vocal).[4] The original version was used in a Dole banana commercial around the time of the release of DSotM.
  • The song was mentioned by Jack Black in the movie School of Rock in which a girl was told to study the vocals.
  • The song was used in the film C.R.A.Z.Y..
  • On certain releases, the last note of the piano on the track is sped up and back down several times, most definitely on the tape machine.
  • The song serves as a benchmark for believers of the Dark Side of the Rainbow phenomenon. The entry of Torry's lamenting vocals coincides almost exactly with the tornado striking Dorothy's farm, and the song ends just as Dorothy steps outside to find herself in Oz.
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