Chapter 10 – Pink Floyd Up-Close & PULSE

After I heard The Division Bell album and realized that I could interpret the lyrics and artwork, I knew I had to go to the concert and see Pink Floyd play it Live. I heard that tickets were going on sale for the July 14th Detroit show, and I just froze up. I thought, what am I suppose to do now? I just waited a bit and thought it over. After several days I looked in the local newspaper classified section for people selling tickets. There was a ticket broker in my area, and they listed front-row seats. I knew I had to have them. Music was never more important in my life until The Division Bell, and I had to take in every bit of excitement and healing that a concert could bring me.

During this time, I heard about the airship named The Division Belle. Columbia Records flew a 194-foot-longblimp between Pink Floyd concert locations. Drummer Nick Mason piloted it on March 30th. A Columbia Electronic Press Kit was released to the media, and a segment contained the following:

“A spokesperson for Pink Floyd has issued the following statement: You have spotted the Pink Floyd Airship. Do not be alarmed. Pink Floyd has sent their airship to North America to deliver a message. The Pink Floyd Airship is headed towards a destination where all will be explained upon arrival. Pink Floyd will communicate.”

The Division Belle Airship

I read that it landed at an airport in the Detroit area, but on 27 of June 1994, The Division Belle was destroyed by a thunderstorm while attached to a mooring pole.

I knew one thing that no musician or person connected with Pink Floyd could tell the story behind the album before I did. It was evident that they couldn’t tell the media what other musicians did to a fan. So far, I was the only one who received a message. Was I suppose to explain it to someone then? People would never have taken me seriously. And besides, I was too excited about it all to explain it clearly. It didn’t seem like the right place or time to say anything.

I went to the ticket broker to get my Pink Floyd tickets. I bought two, one each for myself and my husband. They were $250 each. I knew they’d be worth every penny. I couldn’t tell from the seat numbers 59 and 60 whereabouts in the front row I’d be sitting. It was all starting to get even more unbelievable.

Front row ticket
Front row ticket

Also, after I heard thealbum, I started writing to David Gilmour at his management office, which was 42 Portland Road, London. I didn’t have anything to lose. I figured if he knew about my letters to Palmer, then maybe he would look for mine at his management office. I sent all kinds of thank you cards, why shouldn’t I thank someone who helped me in such a big way?

I was so anxious to go to the concert and wondered what I could do to stand out so maybe David would see me there. I sent current photos of myself to Palmer, so if David got those with my letters, he also received my photos.

I decided to make a t-shirt to stand out. I knew that the sun was an essential part of The Division Bell concept. The sun helps with depression, and it helped me during my dangerous pastime. The main song on The Division Bell is “Coming Back to Life,” The lyrics “starring straight into the shining sun” are significant.

I was never good with drawing or painting, but I did a great job painting a giant yellow and orange sun on the front of a white t-shirt. All around the bottom of the t-shirt, I painted a rainbow and pulse heartbeat like the art on theinside of the Dark-side of the Moon album jacket and how it continues all around.

On the back of the t-shirt, I wrote the words “The Right One’s Back” from the lyrics “when the Right One walks out of the door,” and I drew the Pink Floyd boatman logo in black. I didn’t take a photo of it, so I can’t show it here. I wrote in a letter to Gilmour that I’d be the one in Detroit with the big sun on my t-shirt.

The big concert day arrived. I would see Pink Floyd again after 21 years. Music is timeless magic. It never changes or grows old, but sometimes the words can take on new meaning over the years.

There was one thing that I was afraid of, though, that the band would play “Wearing the Inside Out.” That’s the song from the album that details the dangerous pastime I pondered and how I didn’t even recognize myself. Even though I was brought back to life, I didn’t want to remember that part. I couldn’t bear to hear it.

When we walked into the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan, I felt like I was walking into a dream, a looking glass of a music wonderland. We went over to the souvenirs for sale, and the first thing I saw was all these t-shirts with a sun and a lady’s face inside them. It was a sundial. I thought, well, now how will he see my sun t-shirt when fans are wearing these? It was funny. I wasn’t wearing my t-shirt, but I had it with me. I had something planned for later in the show.

Front of the Sundial t-shirt

We started walking to our seats and had to show our tickets every so often. I still couldn’t believe my tickets were genuine. The last guy to check my ticket looked at me and smiled, and said, “Enjoy the show.” When we got to the front row, we looked for our seat numbers, and we saw that we’d be sitting a bit off-center. I looked at the stage and saw a guy fixing something at a microphone directly in front of me. It could have been Phil Taylor, Gilmour’s guitar tech. I spoke loudly to him and asked, “Hi, is that Gilmour’s mic”? And he smiled with a big grin and either said “yes” or nodded yes, I forget. I yelled out loud, “I always wanted to sit here!!” It was incredible how my ticket was for the seat I always wanted.

Back in the 70’s I’d dream of sitting or standing right in front of David Gilmour and pretend he was singing to me. Every fan knows that’s a dream come true.

So the Silverdome was filling up with people fast, and I was already in heaven looking around, knowing I was the luckiest person there. Not just because I learned about the album, but because of my dream ticket.

It was time for the show to start, and people were yelling things, so I yelled out, “Hey you Gilmour come on out.” Not sure he heard me but not long after that, the band came out, and the lights were still on. Gilmour walked up to his mic, and he had his head lowered like he was nodding to the crowd. Then he picked up his head, and with this big smile, he looked right straight at me. It was a little hard for me to believe in everything that was happening, but that look from Gilmour himself told me everything I needed to know. It was true that he did know what happened to me and that The Division Bell was meant to help me. It was strange how the band came out with the lights on. I don’t think they ever did that before.

The first song was “Shine on you Crazy Diamond,” written for Syd Barrett. Watching David sing, “Remember when you were young you shown like the sun,” reminded me of when I was young and hung out with Pink Floyd. I had tears streaming down my face and cried through the entire song, not knowing exactly why. The sun had been my focus and to hear Gilmour singing “Shine on you crazy diamond” right in front of me was beautiful like he was talking to me. I nearly let Carl Palmer drive me crazy with his stupid mind games.

I was also crying because Gilmour’s guitar was speaking much louder than his words. His guitar strings pulled at my heartstrings, and I could feel everything it was saying.

Now I knew for sure that Carl never cared about me. I lost a friend that I thought I had and of who I was so proud. It was like Gilmour telling me, “Well, you wore out your welcome with random precision.” I wasn’t that ELP welcome back friend anymore and never was. Strangely, a guy was sitting behind my husband wearing an ELP t-shirt. It was so creepy to see that. ELP was the ragged band that followed Pink Floyd’s footsteps, but the guy had no idea.

I’m glad it was Gilmour who told me the truth with The Division Bell because I wouldn’t have believed anyone else. The old lyrics seemed to take on new meaning for me. I was also crying happy tears that a song for Syd helped me so much, and I could share something with him. Gilmour has said in interviews that the old lyrics mean even more today. And that people can interpret the music in any way they wish.

At the time, I didn’t know the story about how all the members of the band were shocked and in tears when in 1975, Syd arrived into the studio at the very same time that the band was working on the track “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” It was a very powerful moment for them, and the last time Syd would see Pink Floyd perform. Although I never met him, I think I understood his magical childlike qualities very well. It’s unfortunate how it all turned out for Roger Keith “Syd” Barrett. But we have his music that will inspire people for years to come. He passed away in 2006 from pancreatic cancer. Thank you, Syd. God Bless You.

The second song was “Learning to Fly.” Sure it’s about learning to fly an airplane, but it can also be about learning to navigate your life in stormy situations and feeling alone and lost in the clouds. But when you experience bliss in your life, that’s when you’re flying high. That’s something I’m still learning to do right now while writing. While freeing yourself of a burden, you learn to fly and become the person you’re meant to be.

They played “High Hopes,” “Take it Back,” and then it was time for “Coming Back to Life.” That is the song that my t-shirt was for. It was dark before the song started. I put my oversized sun t-shirt on over my tank top, and when the lights came on, and the song started, I stood up! I was so proud that I made it through such a horrible time and that the song helped me to live again and come back to life. The lighting from the stage was very bright yellow and orange, like sun rays shining down.

“When Gilmour sang, “I was staring straight into the shining sun,” he couldn’t miss seeing the big yellow sun on my t-shirt. It was a fantastic moment for me to watch the song that saved me being played and to celebrate it with the musicians themselves. I remember clearly how he looked down at the rainbow pulse heartbeat I painted at the bottom of my t-shirt.

After the song was over, I took the sun t-shirt off (of course, I still had my tank top on), and the band started to play “Sorrow.” Regarding this song, Gilmour had said, “Sorrow was a poem I’d written as a lyric before I wrote music to it, which is rare for me” He also said that although lyrics are not his strong point, the song is one of his strongest lyrical efforts.” It’s the closing track on the 1987 A Momentary Lapse of Reason album.

At the beginning of the song, the loud, deep, prolonged roar from his guitar was like a lion that means business. If you listen to “Sorrow” (Live at Pompeii), it’s scary how he still played that song like a roaring lion as it seems he’s telling a man to back off.

Everyone knows David Gilmour is very kind and generous and not an angry man at all, but with this song, he’s telling a story about a man who caused great sadness in the world. It must be a true story for the song to be his strongest lyrical effort. Who is the man in his story who talks of lost love, dedication and who gives invitations? And why isn’t it enough for him to just stop?

“The sweet smell of a great sorrow lies over the land.” The sweet sound of a love song heard over the land is a lie and a great sorrow.

After a few more songs, I was shocked when I heard that unmistakable sound of the Pink Floyd heartbeat from The Dark Side of the Moon album. And my heart started to pound along because I knew they were about to play the song“Breathe (In the air).” I just panicked and thought this is my chance to sing along with Gilmour. At the 70’s concerts, I’d sing it, but I was always too far away and had to pretend my voice would reach the stage. I thought, now it really will reach the stage!

I pulled myself together and tried to calm down. Something inside me said, “Don’t go beyond his voice and do the best you can.” The song was starting, and I was standing up. I started singing along as loud as I could. I remembered how it was sung on the original album, and I sang it just like I did before. It was just Gilmour and me, and we were singing, “Breathe, breathe in the air, don’t be afraid to care. Leave but don’t leave me. Look around, choose your own ground”.

I was so excited when it was over that I was able to get through it. At one point, I almost forgot the words. It was so awesome to be able to do that. I was so happy, and it was an absolute dream come true. Then the band played the rest of the DSOTM album!

(A year later, Guitar World magazine interviewed David Gilmour, and he said, “But it went down well. Detroit [where the revived Dark Side debuted] was a real high, emotional moment”.

Then I watched the band play “Wish you were here.” That gorgeous acoustic guitar sound was heavenly. The song is a tribute to Syd Barrett, lyrics by Roger Waters.

It was the perfect song to hear late in the show after being so healed by all the music. “So, so you think you can tell Heaven from hell?” It was funny because I thought yes, now I can tell Gilmour is heaven and Palmer is hell. “Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?” Yes, they did indeed! But I didn’t need to wish that I was there because I was there up-close and personal. And my wish came true.

The next song was coming up, and Gilmour grabbed his iconic Candy Apple Red Stratocaster like a man on a mission. Pink Floyd was about to play “Comfortably Numb,” and I was right in front of Gilmour while he played it. I was the luckiest rock fan in the world at that moment.

Screenshot David Gilmour during “Comfortably Numb” from Pulse concert

I was sitting down at the beginning of the song because I remember standing up when I heard Rick Wright sing:

“Now, can you stand up? I do believe it’s working, good. That’ll keep you going through the show”

The old lyrics were coming to life again. It was so strange. Then, it was like Gilmour was telling me:

“There is no pain you are receding. A distant ship smoke on the horizon”.

I had no more pain. I felt a huge relief as though the ELP Pirates were finally gone, and only their ship smoke could be seen on the horizon.

But when I heard, “Come on, it’s time to go,” it was nearly time to go. I didn’t want the music and the magic to end.

It was during the guitar solo that I just zoned out and had my eyes closed. I took it all in. It was like I was high on something. I felt detached like my spirit was floating on the ceiling. It may have been an out-of-body experience. When it was over, I was still out there. And had to shake my head to come back down. I let the music take me away. I trusted Gilmour, and I wasn’t afraid. I was able to trust music again, and I let it take me where it wanted to. The dream came to life that night, and I had become comfortably numb.

“Run Like Hell” was the last song. The band and audience were yelling, “Run, Run, Run”!! And it was a great upbeat song to end the show with.

There were so many spotlights and laser shining everywhere. Like they were searchlights looking for someone. Then I remembered the lyrics from “In the Flesh,” the song from The Wall that precedes “Run like hell.”

“Are there any queers in the theater tonight? Get them up against the wall! There’s one in the spotlight, he don’t look right to me”.

The band seemed to be having a great time with this song, smiling, almost laughing, and so energetic. Personally, I thought that Carl Palmer better run if he keeps bothering me because now Pink Floyd knows what he did to me. They were taking a jab at him, and the old lyrics fit him. “With your empty smile And your hungry heart. Feel the bile rising from your guilty past”.

After the song was over, the band stood on the stage for a while, and I thought maybe I should try and throw my sun t-shirt up there. But I was afraid I’d miss, and some fan would take it. So weeks later, I sent it to Gilmour c/o Pink Floyd management. I was hoping it would turn up somewhere. It was important to me.

All the musicians and singers were fantastic. The lighting and special effects were amazing, and the music was excellent and just heavenly. And thank goodness they did not play the song “Wearing the Inside Out” just like I had hoped for.

After the show, when we were leaving, I saw a giant glitter ball way up in the ceiling in the middle of the stadium and wondered why it was there. Something was happening behind me at the concert during “Comfortably Numb,” and I didn’t even know it.

It wasn’t until November of that year that I saw the televised pay-per-view special of Pink Floyd in Concert. It was the Earl’s Court London concert from October 20, 1994.

Towards the end of “Comfortably Numb,” a gigantic mirror ball came down from the ceiling, and then it opened up into an ornamental lighting fixture, and it spun around slowly. It made me think about my so-called love story dream regarding a chandelier and glitter ball and how it was all a lie in the end. But this was very real, and it was fantastic.

Its diameter was 16 feet and 70 feet in height and became 24 feet wide when it opened up. This particular glitter ball was one of the largest in the world. And it all happened behind me at the Detroit concert, and I missed it!

The following year on June 6, 1995, the new Pink Floyd album P.U.L.S.E was released. I read about a light show at the top of the Empire State Building the night before. I also heard about the red blinking light that was on the side of the CD case.

In an interview, David Gilmour explained the significance of the flashing light. “It’s tied in nicely to the heartbeat that begins ‘The Dark Side of the Moon.”

I don’t know why I waited so long to buy a copy. I had heard it was a collection of songs recorded during The Division Bell concerts in Europe.

When I finally decided to buy the Pulse CD and cassette, the record store didn’t have any CDs that came with the flashing red light. I felt like my luck was running out. I left the record store and stood outside and unwrapped the cassette like Charlie unwrapping a Wonka bar outside the candy store. Will there be a golden ticket? I didn’t see anything, no new songs and no clues at all. I couldn’t even interpret the cover art. I was disappointed and went home.

I did think that the blinking light was like a beacon of hope, like a guiding light from a lighthouse. And the light show at the top of the Empire State Building made it like a lighthouse guiding someone towards something. I knew there had to more to it.

When I returned home, I immediately looked at the songs listed on the foldout paper insert. I had already heard them all at the concert, so I decided to play my favorite song, “Breathe (In the air)” with headphones and my yellow Sony Walkman.

I sat in the living room and turned it on, and there was something extraordinary about the voices. I thought, what is that? I had to go into another room and shut the door so that I could hear it better.

I stood there listening, and I just cried and thought it couldn’t be true, that can’t be me, that’s impossible. How did Gilmour do that? That’s my voice with his on “Breathe” on Pulse, and it’s from the Detroit show!!

I thought, what am I suppose to do now, call the local news and say my voice is on a world-famous album? The listing says it was recorded at Earl’s Court in London, that’s true, but at that concert, they played to the vocal recording of “Breathe.” Pink Floyd played to a tape recording. I can barely put it into words. I don’t know how they did it, but that’s my voice, even though they show Jon Carin singing it in the Pulse video. They had to show someone; otherwise, it would be too obvious.

Just writing about it now makes me cry. And after so many years, I still haven’t been able to get this story out. People all over the world are listening to it, and they don’t know. It was an extraordinary gift. How do I prove it? No musicians can say anything about this story until I tell it and get it in the media. It hasn’t been easy.

“Choose your own ground” I didn’t pronounce the d when I sang it. I know how to spell, but I get lazy mispronouncing the d’s at the end of certain words. That’s one clue that it’s me singing. And isn’t it evident that it’s a woman singing along, on the lyric “fly” for instance? I do have an alto voice also. My voice sounds further away, like an echo, because I was in the audience. It’s all part of helping me to be believed about everything, but the more proof that famous musicians give me, sadly, the less I’m believed.

That wasn’t the only time they used the Detroit vocal recording. It happened a few more times at other concerts. How about “Breathe” at the Live 8 Pink Floyd Reunion with Roger? It’s true. That was so cool. Thank goodness they hid Jon Carin behind a curtain of smoke that time. I had no more excuses; I had to believe it. Also, it’s very cool how my old friend Chris Adamson who worked for Pink Floyd, is the voice you hear at the beginning of “Speak to Me” and then on the song “Breathe” which follows, is my voice and Gilmour’s. It’s amazing, but that’s Pink Floyd. And it’s all the very kind-hearted musicians who helped me and made my dream come true after I went through such a horrid ordeal.

“All you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be.” But that’s not always true for me. It’s what I’ve heard that made my music journey what it is.