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The Wall
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Song Name: Comfortably Numb

Artist: Pink Floyd

Album: The Wall (Disc Two), Shine On, Echoes: The Best Of Pink Floyd

Run Time: 6:24

Year: 1979

Track Number: 19

Sung By: Roger Waters (Verse), David Gilmour (Bridge, Refrain)

Written By: David Gilmour, Roger Waters

Echoes: The Best Of Pink Floyd
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The Fletcher Memorial Home
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Comfortably Numb
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Comfortably Numb, Live, O2 Arena 201108:18

Comfortably Numb, Live, O2 Arena 2011

  • It is 1 of 3 songs on The Wall for which credits are shared between Waters and Gilmour (the other 2 are "Young Lust" and "Run Like Hell") – most of the music on "Comfortably Numb" was written by Gilmour, while Waters contributed lyrics and some additional notes. This is one of the most recognized and popular songs from The Wall, and is known for its guitar solos. In 2004, the song was ranked #314 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.
  • This was the last song that all four core members of the group worked on. Shortly after finishing the song, Richard Wright was fired by Roger Waters
  • The song is the second of two tracks on The Wall which are freestanding and don't fade in or out of another track. (The first song is "Mother".) This is because on the original LP there was a break on the music as side three of the album finished. (However, CD releases of The Dark Side Of The MoonWish You Were Here, and Animals, have crossfades to link sides of the respective albums.)
  • Roger said, "Yeah. I had one guy once who thought I'd got food poisioning for an upset stomach. And he thought I had stomach cramps...he wasn't listening to me at all either. In fact, I discovered later on that I had hepatitis. He gave me this tranquilizer, it was in Philadelphia, and boy, that was the longest two hours of my life. Trying to do a show when you can hardly lift your arm. If he'd just left me alone, the pain I could have handled. It was no sweat. I could hardly lift my arms or move any of my limbs. God knows what he gave me, but it was some very heavy muscle relaxant". That experience gave him the idea for the song's lyrics.
  • Waters and Gilmour disagreed about how to record the song as Gilmour preferred a stripped-down, hard rock version. Waters and Ezrin wanted the slower, orchestral version. In the end, Waters' preferred opening and Gilmour's final solo were used. Also, they agreed that the orchestra would play for most of the song, with Gilmour's second and final solo standing alone. He'd later say, "We argued over Comfortably Numb like mad. Really had a big fight, went on for ages."
  • Like the other songs on The Wall, "Comfortably Numb" tells a part of Pink's story. Pink, feeling completely isolated from society, can't stand the pressures of life as a rock star and collapses in his hotel room before his concert. A doctor is sent into the room and gives Pink an injection that gives him the energy he needs to perform. The lyrics are written as a conversation, with Waters as The Doctor and Gilmour as Pink.
  • In 2001, the Canadian alternative country band Luther Wright And The Wrongs released a country version of the song on their Rebuild The Wall album, a track-for-track reimagining of The Wall as a country album.
  • In 2003, legendary British Pub Rocker Graham Parker released a solo acoustic version of "Comfortably Numb" on the two-disc compilation A Fair Forgery Of Pink Floyd (title taken from Roger Waters' 1987 assessment of the A Momentary Lapse Of Reason LP viz "A pretty fair forgery"). Parker's version has elements of Nebraska-era Bruce Springsteen as well as Bob Dylan.
  • In 2004, a disco-oriented cover of the song was released by Scissor Sisters on Polydor, a remix by Canadian electronic musician and DJ/producer Tiga. Although the cover (sung entirely in falsetto) has irked some Floyd fans, David Gilmour and Nick Mason have expressed a liking for the group; Roger Waters is also known to have contacted the band to congratulate them on the version. It is performed in a style reminiscent of The Bee Gees' disco era, and in particular, "Stayin' Alive". The word "I" in the chorus lyric "I have become, comfortably numb" is sung with the same style as the word "Alive" in the chorus of "Staying Alive". It is the biggest UK hit single to be a cover of a Pink Floyd song to date. The Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears invited Gilmour to play "Comfortably Numb" with him in some shows, but Gilmour backed out and Shears criticized him publicly.
  • In 2005 Dar Williams included a version of "Comfortably Numb" on her album My Better Self, duetting on the track with Ani DiFranco. Unfortunately, for Pink Floyd fans, this version does not feature the solos. "I always thought a woman should record it," Dar Williams explains, "So I decided to do it, but I thought it needed another woman. Ani was my dream choice and she just nailed it," Williams says, "The song is a commentary on who we are in the aftermath of the last election, no matter who you voted for. On one level it is about a dream which seems to have died in our society and the ultra convenient numbing I am witnessing these days."  
  • This song was one of three singles released on The Wall, along with Run Like Hell and Another Brick in the Wall.


  Credits  |  Chronology  

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