Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” Lyrics Meaning

As is often the case with classic tunes like this, there have been different explanations given to the meaning of “Wish You Were Here”. The most commonly-accepted understanding is that it is intended to serve as a shoutout to Syd Barrett (1946-2006). Syd Barrett was one of the founding members of Pink Floyd who was unceremoniously dropped from the band (or quit, depending on which way you look at it) in 1968. This transpired due to mental-health problems he developed via drug abuse.

Syd Barrett
Picture of Syd Barrett taken in 1969.

Meanwhile one of the song’s writer, Roger Waters, has rather contended that the lyrics reflect his own mood at the time he wrote them. And said disposition, as illustrated in the title, is characterized by a sense of withdrawal from himself. He has apparently made this assertion despite also stating that the lyrics were derived from a poem he wrote centered on Syd Barrett.

And yet another explanation given is that this song is actually reflective of Pink Floyd themselves feeling detached from their profession at the time. Or stated differently, they may not have been heartily vested in the creation of the album this song is featured on.


So the one commonality between all of these different explanations is “Wish You Were Here” being intended to be centered on a feeling of alienation. And said disposition can be said to be founded in a sense of confusion the addressee is experiencing. On one hand, the addressee may be Syd Barrett.  On another, the singer may actually be said to be addressing himself. And on yet another, the sentiment can be applied to the entirety of the band.

Lyrics of "Wish You Were Here"

Release Date of “Wish You Were Here”

This is the title track from Pink Floyd’s ninth-studio album. It came out on 12 September 1975 as a part of that project. And the two labels behind it are Columbia Records in the US and Harvest Records in the UK.

Pink Floyd also released a live version of this song along with their album “Pulse” in 1995. That particular rendition made an appearance on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in the US.

Who wrote “Wish You Were Here”?

This song was written by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and David Gilmour. And the track was produced by the entire band.

One of the Greatest Songs ever Made

“Wish You Were Here” did not have a strong chart showing, only appearing in Pink Floyd’s native UK and a few other countries. But despite this, it still went to be named one of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” by Rolling Stone magazine.

FYI, Pink Floyd’s classic hit “Comfortably Numb” is also in the above-mentioned list.

Notable Live Performances of “Wish You Were Here”

The members of Pink Floyd have performed this song sporadically throughout the years, meaning that some of the most notable occurrences actually transpired alongside musicians who weren’t in the band.  For instance Rogers Waters performed it with Eric Clapton during Live 8, a benefit concert held in 2005. 

Nick Mason performed it with Ed Sheeran, Mike Rutherford and Richard Jones during the London 2012 Olympics’ closing ceremony. 

And when Pink Floyd were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame David Gilmour and Richard Wright performed it while Nick Mason watched as an audience member.

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