David Gilmour, the legendary guitarist of Pink Floyd, is celebrated for his emotive and cerebral approach to playing, eschewing flashy techniques for soul-stirring melodies. Among his many remarkable moments, his guitar solo in “Comfortably Numb” stands out as one of the most iconic in the history of rock music.
Featured on Pink Floyd’s seminal 1979 album “The Wall,” “Comfortably Numb” emerged during a period of internal discord within the band.
The rift between vocalist/bassist Roger Waters and Gilmour, compounded by the departure of keyboardist Richard Wright, created an atmosphere of tension and rivalry. This tension would play a pivotal role in the band’s future dynamics, leading to a decades-long feud between Waters and Gilmour that persists to this day.
In a candid conversation with Guitar World in 2015, Gilmour and the album’s co-producer, Bob Ezrin, shed light on the creation of this masterpiece. Ezrin, tasked with mediating between the strong personalities of Waters and Gilmour, recalled the collaborative nature of the song.
“‘Comfortably Numb’ became a true collaboration—it’s David’s music, Roger’s lyric, and my orchestral chart,” he explained.
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The standout moment of the track, Gilmour’s mesmerizing guitar solo, was crafted using a blend of Gilmour’s Hiwatt amplifiers and Yamaha rotating speaker cabinets.
However, as Ezrin pointed out, Gilmour’s brilliance transcends his equipment: “You can give him a ukulele, and he’ll make it sound like a Stradivarius.”
Gilmour himself described his meticulous process for creating the solo, revealing his attention to detail and musical craftsmanship.
“I banged out five or six solos,” Gilmour revealed. “Then, by following the chart, I create one great composite solo by whipping one fader up, then another fader, jumping from phrase to phrase until everything flows together. That’s the way we did it on ‘Comfortably Numb.’”
The result is a soul-stirring, emotive guitar solo that has resonated with listeners for decades. Its complexity lies not just in the technical prowess but in the depth of emotion that Gilmour infused into every note. As you listen to “Comfortably Numb,” you’re not just hearing a guitar solo; you’re experiencing a masterful blend of talent, creativity, and raw emotion that continues to captivate audiences around the world.