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Pink Floyd: Journey to the Dark Side

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When Bob Geldof convinced Floyd to reunite for Live 8 in 2005, they began arguing again right away. "At the rehearsal, things were very tense," says Gilmour. "Roger had written a set list of songs he wanted to do, which I found entirely inappropriate for a charity event. Singing 'We don't need no education' just didn't seem to be doing it for me. We did have to gently remind Roger that he was guesting in our band. Pink Floyd was an existing thing with Rick and Nick and myself, and Roger was back in as a guest, and I wrote up the set list, which is what we wound up doing.

"Roger spent a lot of time afterward saying how he would roll over gracefully for that one occasion but it wouldn't happen again," Gilmour continues. "Which strengthened my views: I understand how other people want that sort of [reunion] thing to happen, but I'm entirely selfish in thinking that I want to enjoy my declining years exactly the way that I want to do it. And that wouldn't be part of it."

Last year, Waters told me he could imagine another charity reunion, and Mason is still holding out for the chance. ("It would have to be for someone even more important than Bob Geldof, if that's possible," he says.) But Gilmour isn't interested, even though he enjoyed his guest appearance on the Wall tour, singing "Comfortably Numb" again from on top of the wall – a performance he volunteered for in exchange for Waters'joining him at the charity show. "I don't want to comment really on [the Wall] show, but I went to that thing and went, 'God, he should have had me there for a few rehearsals,'" Gilmour says with a slightly wicked grin. "It'd really make it much better. But he's done brilliantly with it." He adds that as he watched the Wall performance, he saw "little bits from my paint books splashed here, there and everywhere. I think, 'God, I was fucking brilliant doing that. Roger was fucking brilliant doing that.' There's a lot of good stuff that we did together.

"And we had a great night at the charity gig," Gilmour adds. "Roger banned all recording equipment, but I brought my own camera and told a guy, 'Just press that button on at the beginning and off again at the end.' Afterward, I told Roger I filmed it and he said, 'Fantastic!' And I didn't say, 'Well, you wouldn't fucking allow me to have a halfway-decent camera up here.' But, no, we had a great time. We got fairly pissed drunk afterward for a few hours. Then he goes his way and I go mine."

The way Gilmour sees it, "The greatness that we did together is a collaborative achievement between four people who have ego problems, all of them. In every single one of us there's a slight difference between the reality and our perceptions of ourselves." But Waters doesn't buy this description: "I don't think there's any more or less ego involved in the band than in most bands."

Then, in a perhaps not entirely ego-free move, Waters recites the lyrics to "Flickering Flame," a 2002 solo tune. "When my synapses pause in my quest for applause, when my ego lets go of my end of the bone/ To focus instead on the love that is precious to me/Then I shall be free.' So maybe that's the position I have come to recently."

Maybe. Earlier, Waters discussed Gilmour's prominent vocals on Dark Side and Wish You Were Here – and the fact that the latter album features a guest vocalist, Roy Harper, on "Have a Cigar." "The only thing I really regret was letting Roy Harper sing that," says Waters. "I was quite capable of singing it, and I allowed myself to be persuaded out of it - I know in my heart of hearts I probably felt a bit hurt but wasn't prepared to take the risk of saying, 'No, you can fuck off and I don't care whether you think I can sing or not.' So I regret that." He smiles. "But I don't regret much."

This story is from the October 13, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

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