Pink Floyd have often been cast as a mercurial band. Owing, in large part, to their irrepressible need for creative purity, the group have always taken giant leaps forward musically to both satisfy the aforementioned desire and provide their audience with a sound like no other. Never happy to sit still or remain within the confines of the rock genre, the band have inspired countless other rock groups from their inception to the present day.
However, most people won’t know that Pink Floyd also leaned heavily on the artists who came before them for their inspiration. As well as previously sharing their love for The Beatles song ‘Lovely Rita’, David Gilmour once revealed the keen influence one particular rock legend had over their song ‘Money’.
It’s hard to dislike ‘Money’. The song is so funky it often gets forgotten as one of Pink Floyd’s finer moments on record. Landing on The Dark Side of the Moon, the group’s greatest full-length contribution, the song’s complex composition belies its groovy rhythm, which feels like one of the band’s few ubiquitous moments.
As well as the confusing time signatures, which change when Gilmour’s guitar solo appears, the track is a perfect blend of what made Pink Floyd such a tantalising prospect. During this solo, something relatively unique within popular music occurs, as the track flips from an unusual 7/8 time signature into a more conventional 4/4 time before reverting back once again for the post-guitar-solo section, ultimately finishing up in 4/4 for the outro.
Aside from the spellbinding results that this musicological wizardry produces, there was a method behind the madness, as David Gilmour once informed Guitar World: “It’s Roger’s riff. Roger came in with the verses and lyrics for ‘Money’ more or less completed. And we just made up middle sections, guitar solos and all that stuff.” Later going on to explain his contribution to the track’s timing, “We also invented some new riffs – we created a 4/4 progression for the guitar solo and made the poor saxophone player play in 7/4. It was my idea to break down and become dry and empty for the second chorus of the solo.”
The one thing he failed to mention was the gorgeous guitar sound that rings out over the track. It is a sound that now resides with listeners as unmistakably Gilmour, marrying both screaming fuzz tones with warmer, fuller, blues sounds. Lyrically it’s the band near their best, and Gilmour’s guitar solo is a subtle masterclass, making it easily one of Pink Floyd’s best numbers. But the inspiration for the song came from rock heroes, Booker T and The M.G.s.
“Getting specific about how and what influenced what is always difficult, but I was a big Booker T fan,” Gilmour told Rolling Stone. “I had the Green Onions album when I was a teenager. And in my previous band, we were going for two or three years, and we went through Beatles and Beach Boys, on to all the Stax and soul stuff. We played ‘Green Onions’ onstage. I’d done a fair bit of that stuff; it was something I thought we could incorporate into our sound without anyone spotting where the influence had come from. And to me, it worked. Nice white English architecture students getting funky is a bit of an odd thought… and isn’t as funky as all that [laughs].”
It’s hard to disagree with Gilmour’s version of events. While ‘Money’ is undoubtedly a blue-led, funk-driven groovy number, it will never quite match up to Booker T and The M.G.s classic ‘Green Onions’.