Here Are Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters’ 8 All Time Favorite Tracks

Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by Press

Appearing on BBC Radio 4‘s Desert Island Discs in 2011, Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters revealed the eight tracks he considered his all-time favorites.

Neil Young’s ‘Helpless’

First on the list was Neil Young‘s 1969 composition ‘Helpless’, which first appeared on Crosby Stills, Nash and Young‘s Déjà Vu.

Neil Young singing ‘Helpless’,” Waters notes. “There is an honesty and a truth in everything that he’s done. You feel the man’s integrity and passion. I can feel the hairs standing up on the back of my neck now remembering the purity with which he hits the first notes of this song. It’s extraordinarily moving and eloquent.”

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Jaques Morelenbaumand Everton Norton’s ‘Endless Flight’

There is something moving and mysteriously tragic about this [song],” Roger adds of the song, which appeared on the soundtrack of the 2006 film Babel. “I like it.”

Leonard Cohen’s ‘Bird on the Wire’

Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan,” Waters comments, “were the two men allowed us to believe that there was an open door between poetry and song lyrics.”

So simple,” he then notes of the song, “so moving, so brilliant. I love it.”

Chet Baker’s ‘My Funny Valentine’

I actually met [Chet Baker], fleetingly when I was a student studying architecture in London,” Waters reveals Baker, “We were living in a squat in Cheyne Gardens—the whole block was full of squats—and Chet was squatting three doors down and this must have been 1962. He was a junkie and he had no teeth and he couldn’t play anymore. I’ve seen films about him after he got himself together but what a remarkable man. What an extraordinary talent.

Ray Charles’s ‘Georgia On My Mind’

While Waters grew up in a non-musical household, he would routinely climb out of his bedroom window at night and sneak over to the house of a bohemian neighbor’s to listen to music with friends.

We’d stay up all night, almost every night and we would listen to music,” Waters recounts. “We listened to everything. [Ray Charles‘George On My Mind’] is one of the records we used to listen to a lot.

Giacomo Puccini’s ‘E Lucevan Le Stelle’

“A few years ago I wrote an opera,” Waters recounts, “and I became much more interested in operah than I ever had before.”

After one of Water’s opera singers lent Waters a Franco Corelli CD Waters become hooked: “I was just blown away.”

Billie Holiday’s ‘God Bless the Child’

If any artist had a more fiery temperament than Roger Waters, it’s jazz singer and heroin casualty Billie Holiday.

Billie Holiday is a sort of tragic figure,” Roger states. “The vulnerability of this woman is so moving. I don’t have the prose to even begin to describe it. When you listen to this track it just tears your heart out.”

Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor – ‘4th Movement’

I made a movie of The Dark Side of the Moon tour I did and this is the music that opens that film,” Waters shares.

The scene in question depicts milk bottles breaking in slow motion, something waters bids the listener imagine as they listen to Gustav Mahler‘s 1901 symphony.


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