David Gilmour - Wish You Were Here - Live at the Royal Albert Hall 2001
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 (including a radio play and one playing the opening of the finale movement of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony), 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.
Lyrically, the song is often considered to be a direct tribute to Syd Barrett. It pained Waters to see his friend so lost, so detached, so disengaged from the world around him. “Wish You Were Here” deals with that mental inability – the refusal, even – to engage with reality, and it served as much as a rallying for Waters as a sad tribute to Barrett's better days.
And disciplinary remains mercifully
Yes and um, I’m with you Derek, this star nonsense
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 fish bowl
Year after year
Running over the same old ground
What have we found?
The same old fears
Wish you were here
Songwriters: David Gilmour / Roger Waters
Wish You Were Here lyrics © Peermusic Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Concord Music Publishing LLC, BMG Rights Management