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"The Great Gig in the Sky" is the fifth track from Englishmarker progressive rock band Pink Floyd's 1973 album, The Dark Side of the Moon. It features voice instrumental music by Clare Torry. The song was called either "The Religion Song" or "The Mortality Sequence" during recording.

Clare Torry's vocals

Clare Torry had worked previously with Alan Parsons and he suggested her for the song, and had an accountant at Abbey Road Studiosmarker call her.

David Gilmour said that she did "maybe half a dozen takes, and then afterwards we compiled the final performance out of all the bits. It wasn't done in one single take."

Roger Waters said that Clare came into the studio and the group said that "there's no lyrics. It's about dying".

Torry said that on her first take she sang "Ooh-aah, baby, baby - yeah, yeah, yeah." That wasn't satisfactory and on the next take she tried to emulate an instrument, which is the take used on the album. She started to perform another take but stopped because she was just repeating her previous take and it sounded "contrived".

Chris Thomas, who was brought in to assist Alan Parsons in mixing the album mentions that they were actually in mixdown at the time. On the DVD Classic Albums: Pink Floyd - The Making of The Dark Side of the Moon, 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.(Roger Waters interview, Classic Albums: Pink Floyd - The Making of The Dark Side of the Moon)

Torry left thinking that her vocal tracks wouldn't be included on the final cut. 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.

Lawsuit

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 Richard Wright. Originally, she was paid the standard Sunday flat studio rate of £30. In 2005, a settlement was reached in High Courtmarker in Torry's favour, although terms were not disclosed. All pressings after 2005 list the composition to Richard Wright and Clare Torry.

Composition

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.

Spoken parts

(At 0:38)

(At 3:33, faintly)

Alternative and live versions

The song was performed as the "Mortality Sequence" throughout 1972, then from 1973-1975, and from 1987-1994. In live performances of the song during the band's 1974-1975 tour, David Gilmour would play both lap steel guitar and the Hammond organ, allowing Richard Wright to concentrate solely on piano (his keyboards were arranged where he couldn't play both). David's pedal steel for Great Gig was located accordingly beside Rick's Hammond. This practice was discontinued in 1987 after additional touring keyboardist Jon Carin took over the Hammond parts. During live performances by Pink Floyd, up to three singers were used, each taking different parts of the song. Live album P•U•L•S•E features a version sung by host of backing singers, one of whom is Sam Brown. Similarly, the earlier Delicate Sound of Thunder video features two different backing singers who provide the vocalisations for the song, with Durga McBroom being present on both occasions.

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). The original version was used in a Dole banana commercial around the time of the release of the album.

On the Echoes compilation album, the song segues from "Marooned" into "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun".

Covers

On the Easy Star All-Stars' Dub Side of the Moon album, there are two different Dub music versions of the track, The Great Gig in the Sky (Track 4) and Great Dub in the Sky (Track 11).

Phish also does a live cover in Live Phish 7, Disc 3, Track 6

Seattle local band The Squirrels did a full-length parody "tribute" of DSOTM in 1999 entitled The Not-So-Bright Side of the Moon. Their version of "Great Gig" has vocalist Baby Cheevers singing after guitarist Joey Kline says "Sorry, the girl didn't show up!"

Personnel



References

  1. The track number depends upon the album version; some releases merge the two tracks "Speak to Me" and "Breathe," for instance.



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