Piano Day

Well, well, well. I’ve come to realise that it’s Piano Day today, the third such international celebration of the beloved black and white keys that takes place, appropriately, on the 88th day of the year. So, Happy Piano Day to everyone reading this. I seem to have missed the first two so we have some making up to do.

Aside from the obvious piano-in-popular-music classics that everyone knows and many have copied (John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ springs to mind, as does Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’), and not lingering too long over the impressive back catalogues of Elton John and Billy Joel, nor indeed Coldplay’s earlier and infinitely gloomier (read: better?) material, the image I have in mind is of Neil Young in 1971, seated at the upright piano, harmonica around his neck, performing songs from what would soon become his Harvest album.

Of course, we remember with fondness and the deepest respect always the greatly-missed Richard Wright and Michael Kamen; the latter’s collaboration with David and Pink Floyd, as conductor and arranger as well as musician – on The Wall, The Final Cut, The Division Bell and David’s second solo album, About Face – so familiar to us all. (I think Piano Day provides another wonderful excuse to reach for the David Gilmour In Concert DVD, as if you really needed one, to enjoy these two tinkling the ivories so beautifully.)

Here are a few of my favourites, anyway. Which are yours? There must be hundreds.

– The Beatles, ‘Lady Madonna’
– The Boomtown Rats, ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’
– Dave Davies, ‘Death of a Clown’
– The Doors, ‘Love Her Madly’
– Eagles, ‘Desperado’
– Jethro Tull, ‘Locomotive Breath’
– Joni Mitchell, ‘River’
– REM, ‘Nightswimming’
– Rolling Stones, ‘She’s a Rainbow’
– U2, ‘New Year’s Day’

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

103 thoughts on “Piano Day”

  1. Since last summer when I hear or read the word “piano”, I always have to think of Lubomyr Melnyk. I feel lucky to have seen him performing in Munich and what he does is magic.

    My favourite composition is his “Windmills”.

      1. Words can’t describe what he does. Search for “Illirion” on a streaming service and listen to it, preferably with headphones….

  2. Natalie Merchant – River deserves a nod. Such a beautiful tune.

    And, of course, Out Of The Blue because I love seeing our guy tickle the keys and Faces of Stone.

    Finally, I’ll shed another tear for our dear departed Mr Wright. One of my most favorite tracks from the Division Bell is Wearing the Inside Out. The interplay of the keys and the guitar has always spoken to me. A continuation of the conversation in Echoes. Soulful, lonesome, harrowing and beautiful.

  3. How cool is playing notes by clicking the homepage in the Piano Day website?

    Some of my favourites ever:

    Beethoven – Moonlight Sonata
    Nick Cave – Into My Arms
    The Beatles – Martha My Dear
    Joni Mitchell – Blue
    Pink Floyd – The Great Gig In the Sky
    Pink Floyd (again, yeah we love them) – Sysyphus
    …and one at your choice by Michel Petrucciani.

    Ciao!

  4. I shall consider a fuller reply but let’s get the opening of ‘The Great Gig’ in the mix right now – sublime, melancholic and profound and the inspiration for Clare’s vocal masterpiece.

  5. For PF I’d go for ‘Us and Them’ either off DSOTM or maybe better the original piano-only sketch from Zabriskie Point.

    Elsewhere I’ve always been a sucker for the piano from ‘Life on Mars’ by David Bowie. The Rick Wakeman cut recorded the day that Bowie died is great and also very poignant…

  6. Beth Hart – Mama, too. Beautiful. Pulls your heart out of your chest. She’s just brilliant anyway, if you haven’t heard her new album Fire on the Floor, give it a listen. It’s an absolute treat.

    Here’s a link to Mama.

    1. Beth Hart is a BADA$$!!! LOVE her … she does an amazing rendition of Strange Fruit with Joe Bonamassa (a little dark piano action in the background too).

      1. Yes!! She’s incredible with Joe Bonamassa! She’s also been a part of the Hendrix tribute, killing it alongside Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

        She’s in Europe for the next few months, but I’m hoping she does a third leg of touring for her new album. I’ve only managed to see her once, live, so far for her Better Than Home tour.

  7. Talking classical music I admire Grigori Sokolov – his playing style is simply beautiful. There are only a few records and DVDs released, but this video may give a short impression of his very sensitive and unique playing personality.

    My favourite classical piano piece is “Gaspard de la nuit” by Maurice Ravel – breathtaking…

    And then:

    REM – Nightswimming
    Paul McCartney – Scared
    Beatles – You Never Give Me Your Money
    David Bowie – Life On Mars

    but you are right FEd, there are so many. 🙂

  8. I have to say Marooned first of all. You are tempted to listen to the guitar, but if you listen to what Rick plays … So very lovely. One of my favourite songs of all time anyway.

    I’m also really partial to Christine McVie’s piano playing, on the Rhiannon intro on ‘The Dance’ for example.

    1. A truly wonderful album, Ash. (I did put ‘So Far Away’ on my list but felt it was getting too long and needed cutting down a bit.)

      David’s song of the same name – from his first solo album – should be on there, too, of course. Lovely piano on that.

    1. Kate Bush – The Man With the Child In His Eyes

      Hard to believe she wrote that at the age of, what, 14 or 15? Incredible.

  9. The first song that popped in my head on this topic was November Rain by Guns and Roses. There was also a performance where Elton John joined Axl on back to back grand piano to perform it live. Check it out here.

    Thanks,
    Andrew

    1. Love that song, Andrew. Thanks for the link, I’d never seen that performance before.

  10. Pink Floyd:

    ‘Cluster One’ – The piano and guitar just go so well together. I love how Rick and David respond to each other in such a subtle and elegant way.

    ‘Summer 68’ – Am I the only one who thinks that it’s an extremely underrated PF song?

    1. And a very short but beautiful piece of piano by Richard:

      ‘The Lost Art of Conversation’ from The Endless River.

      Beautiful title, too…

  11. Scribbled a handful or so on a random piece of paper whilst commuting to work this morning and apologetically elbowed a fellow passenger so I could scroll through the tracks on my iPhone. Hopefully I’ll be forgiven if I have duplicated others’ postings:

    Faces of Stone – David Gilmour (I was listening to it at the time 🙂 )
    Great Gig in the Sky – Pink Floyd (it sort of goes without saying, right?)
    Tiny Dancer – Elton John
    Steven – Alice Cooper
    All the Way from Memphis – Mott the Hoople
    Julia – Pavlov’s Dog (haunting)
    Layla – Derek and the Dominoes
    Tuesday’s Gone – Lynrd Skynrd
    House of Four Doors – The Moody Blues
    The Dream of Olwen – Charles Williams
    Another Man’s Woman and School – Supertramp (gosh, almost anything Supertramp!)
    Put On Your Old Brown Shoes – Supertramp
    Tubular Bells – Mike Oldfield
    November Rain – Guns ‘n Roses (I actually don’t have this on my iPhone but remembered it)
    Bohemian Rhapsody — Queen
    Changes – David Bowie
    Changes – Black Sabbath
    Firth of Fifth – Genesis

    Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the “classics” (are they allowed) like Dvořák’s Humoresque In G Flat; Chopin’s “Funeral March” or anything Chopin; Mozart’s “Turkish March”; Franz Liszt’s Liebestraum; Beethoven’s “Pathétique”; and a little fun with Mozart – here.

    There are 100s … how long are we allowed to play? 🙂

  12. Seamus. That bluesy little gem. Brilliant keys, brilliant guitar, and Mademoiselle Nobs howling her little heart out. Who here hasn’t joined her in song?

  13. Hi FEd,

    Here’s a few ebony and ivory tinklings that give my fingers some exercise. 🙂

    – Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
    – Living in the City – Stevie Wonder
    – Someone Saved My Life Tonight – Elton John
    – I Don’t Like Mondays – Boomtown Rats
    – Steppin’ Out – Joe Jackson
    – Perfect Day – Lou Reed

    Six of the best?

    Shine on…..
    John 🙂

  14. Particular piano poignancy for me:

    Elton John – Rocket Man
    Paul McCartney – Maybe I’m Amazed
    David Bowie – Life on Mars (I think everyone will have this one)
    Radiohead – Pyramid Song (naturellement)
    Nick Cave – And No More Shall We Part (increasingly naturellement)

    Did we ought to consider songs about Pianos ? … which is an excuse to mention Chas and Dave – My Old Piano.

  15. I could happily do this all day, every day. A few others came to mind during this morning’s commute:

    Some of the Time, Old and Wise, Time – Alan Parsons
    Amazing – Aerosmith (for Ash 🙂 )
    Ticket to the Moon – ELO

  16. At the risk of being ‘kicked out’ for being a Blog Hog, here’s another:

    Evanescence – My Immortal

    Never having read the liner notes to the album Fallen, I didn’t realize that Amy Lee was the pianist and an accomplished one at that!

    And here’s another (I’m willing to risk it 🙂 ) brilliant cover:

    Disturbed – The Sound Of Silence

  17. Some of my favourites would be:

    The Beatles – Lady Madonna
    Paul McCartney – Queenie Eye
    Coldplay – The Scientist
    Pink Floyd – The Great Gig In The Sky

    I’m afraid I can’t join the chat today. I hope I will be able to join next time!

  18. I cannot join the chat today. 🙁 Please send my greetings to everyone FEd.

    Have a nice weekend.

  19. A couple PF tunes worth noting, that show Rick’s brilliance (I know, there are many) are from Obscured by Clouds.

    – Mudmen (Love his Piano playing, and Organ work is outstanding)
    – Stay (just a beautiful song)

    There is a song called Ebb Tide written in 1953 by lyricist Carl Sigman and composer Robert Maxwell. I’ve heard this song by several different performers, but my favorite way to listen to it is as a piano piece. You can go on YouTube and hear several different piano players perform it. Really just a lovely song, which represents the ocean in a beautiful way. The first time I heard it, this very gentile man, probably in his mid to late 70’s came to my house to tune my piano, and when he was finished tuning, he played that song. Watching him play it with such emotion really moved me. His son ended up taking over his business, but I will never forget that man for introducing me to such a powerful piece of music. I think anyone who really appreciates good music (and I know there are many here on this blog) should have a listen to it as a piano solo.

  20. There is a guitar day too 😉 , FEd? Anyway, excluding of course all songs from Gilmour/PF 🙂 , few of my favorite songs with Piano are:

    U2 – October
    Bauhaus – Crowds
    The Damned – Generals
    Ultravox – Private Lives
    The Cure – A Reflection
    Radiohead – Sail to the Moon
    Muse – Sunburn
    Guns N’ Roses – 14 Years
    Deep Purple – Lazy

  21. Dear FEd, in the German newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung” there was an article today that´s about cover and tribute bands. And the journalist visited Pink Floyd Tribute Bands. And well … he wrote something beautiful about David’s voice, I try to translate:

    Gilmour’s voice is very specific mellow, one can say matured, but that is not exactly the right expression for it. Its a powerful, floating voice, his voice seems to come from an enormous room of feedback/vibrancy, maybe from a great hall, even if Gilmour sings a high note of a folk song. This voice is like South France in the electric heat of midsummer. It’s a lavender-voice, it lacks all fatty and popping things. It’s a 3D voice, deep and strong and high at the same time. Gilmour’s voice always stays in the lavender air.

    There are many other lovely things in this article, the man must be a huge Gilmour fan. I can send you a digital copy of the article if you like. 🙂

    Have a great weekend.

  22. Are we allowed to speak about pianists?

    If so, I’d like to mention Davide Martello, a German pianist of Italian descent. Maybe he is not a great player, he never plans any concert, but he regularly visits conflict zones around the world with his (self made) grand piano, to express messages of peace.

    I heard about him when he spontaneously decided to come from Konstanz to Paris just after the terror attacks in 2015, with his piano attached to a bicycle and played very moving notes of ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon outside the Bataclan. Sorry if I have only a link to an article in French.

    He said “I can’t bring people back but I can inspire them with music and when people are inspired they can do anything.”

    He also played at Taksim Square where protesters had clashed with Turkish riot policemen in Istanbul in 2013 and more recently at Dallas Police Memorial. He has also given a Christmas recital for German troops in Afghanistan.

    He has been granted the civic award of the European Parliament for his “outstanding contribution to European cooperation and the promotion of common values”.

    Sorry if this comment is long and boring, but I just think that what he is doing is inspirational, and unbelievably beautiful and moving, even though this isn’t, of course, going to change the world…

  23. FEd? Is that little ad for a 60 minute Live From Pompeii for real? It’s making the rounds on Facebook. So before I start swooning and generally freaking out, I thought I’d ask.

    If it is only 60 minutes, woe betide everyone that will have to hear how amazing the other 120 minutes were. Endlessly. For the rest of my life.

    Those will be some of the moments that flash before my eyes. The first (and second) audience to witness an event since the gladiators fought there.

      1. It would be wonderful. I’ll finally see what I missed. I spent at least as much time drinking in my surroundings as I did watching the band, if not more. Brickman had the whole anfiteatro dancing and jumping, an illusion of the lights. It was a stunning sight to behold. It almost feels like I imagined it – how could anything be that magical in my adulthood – so, yes, it would be wonderful to revisit and cement those memories. I’m quite adamant that what I saw couldn’t be a trick of jet lag, romanticism and failing middle aged memory.

        And I hope the ad is wrong about only 60 minutes. 😉

    1. I researched and apparently it is a 60 minutes version to be shown somewhere, some time on TV before the official release of the DVD/BluRay.

  24. Naturally all the great piano songs have been listed by now. So the only one I can mention is by The Doors~Riders of the Storm. It is a flowing song.

    The many previously listed include accomplished piano players: Beethoven, Mr. Wright (anything Pink Floyd/David Gilmour does is first class), Beatles and the many more that are already mentioned.

    Burton Cummings of The Guess Who can play nicely as Axl of Guns & Roses both of which I have seen in concert many moons ago.

    It is always a treat when a grand piano is on the stage with the keys in action.

    Take care, Suzy

  25. Hi everyone, thought I’d name check “Ray Manzarek” – another Richard Wright in terms of a great pianist and keyboard player, yet often forgotten and whose contributions are often overlooked. Like “Rick” did with Pink Floyd, Ray held “The Doors” together.

    The Doors – Riders On The Storm

    An absolute classic, can’t beat it.

    And anything Nick Cave plays on piano, preferably a “Piano only” Mercy seat. 😀

  26. – Flight of the Bumble Bee
    – Liberace had his moments on piano especially Autumn Leaves
    – April by Deep Purple
    – Piano Man by Billy Joel
    – Summer 68 by Richard obviously too

    TY

  27. Wow FEd, your Piano Day Post sent me off to spend hours happily rummaging through my CDs, DVDs and the internet to visit old friends. So many wonderful piano laden songs I have listened to this week, by the likes of Richard Wright, Ray Charles, Billy Preston, Sly Stone, Michael McDonald, Seth Justman, Vince Guaraldi, Stevie Wonder, Marc Cohn, George Winston, Little Richard, Bruce Hornsby, the list keeps getting longer every day. Incredible how much joy these musicians bring with their pianos and organs….

    Some favorites:

    Ray Charles – What’d I Say
    Michael McDonald – Takin’ It To The Streets
    Lynryd Skynryd – Call Me The Breeze
    Boomtown Rats – Tell Me Why I Don’t Like Mondays
    Vince Guaraldi – Linus and Lucy
    Marc Cohn – Walking in Memphis
    Procol Harum – Whiter Shade of Pale
    The Procol Harum is a 2006 live version from Denmark, just love it.

    The Piano Day website is very cool, playing notes on the homepage is an instant stress reliever.

    Awesome post FEd.

  28. Congrats to David for winning the Life Entertainment Award for Concert of the year!

  29. Hi, I know it’s a bit late but what about Paul Weller – You Do Something To Me? It’s a beautiful song. x

  30. WTF is happening? Children died from gas, then the trump bombs Syria (4 children died for it), a Russian ship is facing the two American ships who bombed Syria, it’s just entering the Mediterranean sea. Now Stockholm.

    Pray for peace.

    1. Right. The movie Idiocracy is president. And Kim Jong Orange has appointed a swamp cabinet to harvest the earth, and his family members, Dumb, Dumber and Dumberer (who doesn’t know what the word “complicit” means) as his banana republic while he “takes the oil” out of the Middle East. It’s shocking and nauseating to see that America was just one elected official’s morality away from becoming star-spangled war criminals.

      Sweet smell of a great sorrow lies over the land.

      There’s nothing I can say except that I’m sorry world. My best intentions are backed by my (insufficient) money and my time. My good wishes are not enough.

      My heart bleeds and I feel so small and powerless.

      1. It is as though we are living in the twilight zone.

        Just hope the planet and all the inhabitants can ride out the craziness till it can be corrected~to the best that it can be.

        Unfortunately, for many their time is gone so there is no waiting it out.

        Harder and harder to think positive.

        Take care, Suzy

        1. Have you heard the news? The dogs are dead! You better stay home and do as you’re told

          We just must to remember we are not sheep. There is not another choice.

    1. Thanks for that Michele. 🙂 Good fun. It amazes me that musicians, even complete strangers, can get into a kind of telepathy zone with each other !

      About three quarters of an hour later my daughter said, “You’ve fallen down a YouTube Hole, haven’t you Mum ?”

      Indeed I had ! I was linking to more videos of people playing in strange locations, flashmobs, unlikely pianists, homeless guys getting back on their feet after sitting down at a free-to-play piano. . . .

  31. Never been a Kiss fan but heard Beth on the radio the other day … think the last time I heard it was in the late 70s.

  32. Page McConnell – “You Enjoy Myself” (Phish)
    Chuck Leavell – “Jessica” (Allman Brothers Band)
    Jim Gordon – “Layla” (Derek and The Dominos)

  33. I’m away from my computer so can’t easily find and copy a link but I had to share this . . .

    A shrimp that makes a sound louder than rock bands has been named after Pink Floyd. The pistol shrimp, Synalpheus pinkfloydi, uses its distinctive pink snapping claw to stun prey with sonic energy. By snapping the claw shut at rapid speed it creates a high pressure bubble which collapses to produce one of the loudest sounds in the ocean. The blast can reach 210 decibels-louder than a gun shot-and is powerful enough to stun or even kill small fish. For a split-second, the imploding bubble also gets super hot. Zoologist and Pink Floyd fan Dr Sammy de Grave, from Oxford university’s Museum of Natural History, had been waiting to honour his heroes. He said: “the description of this new species of pistol shrimp was the perfect opportunity to finally give a nod to my favourite band.”

    1. Thanks for sharing Ash.

      That is positive and fun news.

      I think future meteors should also be named after David and or Pink Floyd.

  34. Must give a nod to Derek and the Dominos’ Bobby Whitlock for his part in the song Layla.

    It has also been 46 years that this song has graced the air waves.

    On another note~I will always remember where I was on Easter of 2016…Definitely a spiritual experience.

    Take care, Suzy

  35. Happy Easter David, Polly and family. Happy Easter FEd, wish you a good one with your loved ones.

    Also, a very Happy Easter to the Irregulars Family, hope you can enjoy the break and pray all together for peace.

    Much love!

    Emilio

  36. Hi FEd. I’m at a Pink Floyd laser spectacular and they’re playing David Gilmour David Gilmour at intermission. Such a treat. So Far Away is on right now and I’m thinking of you and the rest of the crew.

    Much love.

  37. Morning all.

    Did anyone mention,

    Rocking All Over the World, Status Quo.
    Diamond Dogs, David Bowie.
    Faces of Stone, David Gilmour.
    Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen.

    And of course any tinkling of the ivories by the our fallen hero and much missed Rick.

    Lovely morning in Cumbria. Spent the day in Cleveleys and my home Bispham yesterday, and we had a 99 on the Cleveleys promenade. Hope everyone is OK.

    Damian

  38. I forgot to mention Fed. In cleveleys we had a 3-course dinner for £6.95, I kid you not.

    Damian

  39. Dennis Quaid was just on The Nightly Show and played the piano very well.

    Damian

  40. Did you hear about the piano that was donated to a school? It was sent off to be tuned and the piano man found 900 hundred Victorian gold sovereign coins hidden under the keys in bags.

    Damian

  41. I was just watching Roger Waters’ gig in Mexico last year. I did enjoy Pigs, then after that it was really like watching and listening to a tribute band.

    Apologies to Waters fans and to FEd for my writings on your wall.

    Damian

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