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Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb - Lyrics Meaning

"Comfortably Numb" is a 1979 single by Pink Floyd. The song comes from their epic concept album "The Wall." Guitarist David Gilmour is responsible for the melody and music while bassist Roger Waters wrote the lyrics. "Comfortably Numb" is the very last song that Gilmour and Waters shared songwriting credits on as Waters left the band in 1986.

There are many urban legends as to what "Comfortably Numb" is about. Naturally, due to the music of Pink Floyd being popular within the drug culture, there are many fans that wholeheartedly believe that the song is about the use of mind-altering substances. Stories are widespread that Waters has admitted to writing the lyrics while using drugs. There is also the belief that the song is representative of a psychological breakdown similar to that experienced by original founding member Syd Barrett.

Pink Floyd's movie "The Wall" has also added to the perception that the song is about drug use or a mental breakdown. In the movie, Bob Geldof's character, a fictional rock star named Pink, is in an unproductive incoherent state due to his drug use and feeble mental health. He hallucinates upon being injected with a drug to prep him for show time.

On the album itself, the story of Pink is told track by track, and "Comfortably Numb" is the narrative of a conversation between Pink and his doctor. Gilmour acts as the voice of Pink and Waters acts as the voice of the doctor. Pink is given a shot that is meant to clear his weakened mental state so he can perform in concert. The lyrics depict an account of Pink's experience after his injection and the patient/doctor dialogue that occurred.

So, did Roger Waters really write the song while stoned? We really don't know. However, Waters himself has stated in interviews that "Comfortably Numb" is a recount of two life-altering (not mind-altering) experiences he endured. Waters often thinks back to an illness he had as a child where he ran an excessively high fever and was delirious. There is also an experience that he had in 1977 where he fell ill prior to a concert in Philadelphia. He was suffering from abdominal cramps, which may or may not have been brought on from undiagnosed hepatitis, and a doctor injected Waters with tranquilizers to ready him for the show. The experience left Waters "comfortably numb." It's easy to see how the pre-show injection administered to Pink's character on the album and in the movie could have been inspired by Waters' real-life experience when he became sick prior to a concert.

The song is highly regarded by critics and fans alike. Gilmour's second guitar solo is frequently hailed as the Best Guitar Solo ever in polls and Rolling Stone magazine ranked "Comfortably Numb" at number 314 in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. A dance-oriented version of the song by the Scissor Sisters became a Top 10 hit in the U.K. in 2004.

Meanings of other songs by Pink Floyd:
Comfortably numb
Wish You Were Here

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