There is little argument that Pink Floyd is one of the greatest Rock bands to have blessed this earth. However, their 1971 track “Echoes” did spur up some controversy, and all for good reasons too. The original recording clocked 23 minutes and 31 seconds, which was, by even Rock standards, extremely lengthy. The song only contains 3 verses and 3 choruses, but is extended in playtime by a monumental 4-part instrumental piece from 4 minute 56 second mark to 19 minutes 11 second mark. And thus was born a legendary song.
“Echoes” was released on October 30,
(“Echoes”) was a 20-minute piece. A, it was a “construct,” and B, it was the beginning of all the writing about other people. It was the beginning of empathy, if you like. There’s a sort of thread that’s gone through everything, for me, ever since then.Roger Waters
Below clip is from Pink Floyd’s ‘Live at Pompeii’ documentary about the band. The band performed the song at the ancient Roman
Listen to “Echoes” Full Version by Pink Floyd Live from Pompeii
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Lyrics Review and Song Meaning of “Echoes”
The song title “echoes,” reflects on the human connection. Much like the breaking waves of the ocean affect the deepest coral caves, humans are interconnected. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Rogers explained that the lyrics were an attempt to describe “the potential that human beings have for recognizing each other’s humanity and responding to it, with empathy rather than antipathy”.
The first verse of “Echoes” seem to be speaking about the beauty of the nature. Lead vocalists Richard Wright and David Gilmour are using several examples; albatros birds, coral caves in the ocean depths and sun bathed sandy beaches, to emphasize on the beauty of the nature. There is a calming serenity in these lyrics and the vocals by the artists. In the beginning of it all, everything was ‘green and submarine.’ And then comes the humans!
In these lyrics, the singers emphasize on the seemingly endless life cycle of humans on earth. They probably are mocking on the theory that humans were evolved out of single-celled organisms transforming from sea-living creatures to earth dwellers when they say “And no one showed us to the land.” Are they supporting the creationism?
The humans seem quite lost, given the fact that the big questions of life such as ‘what is the purpose of humans in this universe?’ or ‘what is the ultimate truth?’ or ‘is there a God?’ are still unanswered and probably never will be. But in trying times, we always look up to the sky for guidance and strength. Can this be just a coincidence or years and years of practice embedded into our genes?
Pink Floyd tries to evaluate human relationships in these lyrics of “Echoes.” ‘Love’ is a concept that is hard to grasp and experience. Two strangers meeting eyes is all it takes to make or break a person. Volcanic eruptions of emotions, just from a slight touch or a look or a kiss, is the human nature that we are doomed to experience.
Pink Floyd explains that we are all equal no matter what. There could be different races, languages, colours, boundaries, abilities and disabilities, but we are united by a common group called ‘humans.’ Through another human being, you should be able to see yourself. That is called ’empathy.’ The world would be better than the heavens if everybody felt empathy towards one another.
These lyrics in “Echoes” perfectly sums up the downfall of humanity. There is no one to lead humanity to a better place, all the leaders are crooks. There is no one to help another, give a hand for them to get up, and no one to speak for the voiceless. These lines could also be alluding to the destructive nature of human evolution–destroying and hurting each other and the planet.
The last line on ‘flying around the sun’ could be a reference to the infamous fall of Icarus, who disobeyed his father and tried to fly too close to the Sun which resulted in his wings made out of wax to melt and Icarus falling to his death. This could be a hint at how human evolution and development, equalled to flying high, is merely the flipside of creating our own destruction and death.
The instrumental part that appears next can be divided into 4 parts according to Genius;
4:56 – 7:02 – False ending
7:02 – 11:20 – Upbeat improvisation
11:20 – 14:35 – Experimental sound effects
14:35 – 19:11 – Resurgence (Nothing part 14)
Watch Pink Floyd Perform “Echoes” Live in Gdansk in 2014
The third verse of “Echoes” draw a beautiful picture of a morning sunrise where the humans wake up with the motive to be a better person. The sunlight welcomes the person to the world, to the new day like a million ambassadors. Humans are doomed to fall every day, but there are still ways to rise up for anyone who is looking for them. You just need to have an open mind and a free will.
The final chorus of the song describes how humans are connected to a higher power. Often times these lines are interpreted as a notion of love. Either way, these lyrics talk about human connections. There is another being, be it human or divine, who is there to bring the best in us. Have an open mind (“throw windows wide”), experience life and live and let live are the takeaway messages from this masterpiece.
Undoubtedly “Echoes” is one of the best songs and musical works by Pink Floyd in their entire career. This song is a hallmark in their career as it paved the way
Let us know what you think about “Echoes” and what it means to you. What is the best part in this track? Drop a comment below and share this article with your friends.
Complete Lyrics to “Echoes” by Pink Floyd
3 thoughts on “Pink Floyd – Echoes (Lyrics Review and Song Meaning)”
I wanted to make the same observation as the other the other two comments.
The first verse and chorus describe perfectly the origin of humans, that is from unicellular life under the sea.
“No one showed us to the land” reinforces the fact that there was not a creator behind it all.
“No one knows the wheres or whys” reflects the intricasies of the origin of life still unknown to the scientists.
Not that a scientific theory is not proclaiming the absolute truth like religions do, and they need constant research.
“But something stirs and something tries
And starts to climb towards the light” represents the struggles of our ancestors of make it on land.
Other than that I think your interpretations are close to what Roger intended.
Btw does the line”And no one sings me lullabies
And no one makes me close my eyes” represents the fact that “lullabies” like ethnical superiority should not stop us from empathasing with each other.
I agree Ramon. I think its endorsing it as well, since “no one showed us to the land” suggesting there was no higher power to guide us, it was done based on evolution alone.
I don’t think they’re mocking unicellular theory.
I think they’re endorsing it.
The 3rd verse seems about the sun.
We know the entire solar system and evolution itself was based on it.
The first animals trying to walk in land, wanting to reach the bright sky.
We even culted the sun in early religions, ’cause we clearly understand it’s essential for life.
This can tie with some human-spiritual theme.