This song is 23 minutes long and takes up the entire second side of the album. The song evolved out of Pink Floyd's live shows. According to Shiloh Noone's Seekers Guide To The Rhythm Of Yesteryear, Pink Floyd introduced a new piece of music at the Crystal Palace Garden party entitled "Return of the Sun of Nothing," said by the band to be a joke about comic books and Godzilla-type movie sequels, which developed into "Echoes" about 6 months later. The song was a homage to the minimalist composer Terry Riley.
In an interview with Rolling Stone Roger Waters said he was attempting to describe "The potential that human beings have for recognizing each other's humanity and responding to it, with empathy rather than antipathy."
This was originally called "Return To The Sun Of Nothing."
The band got the idea for this when Rick Wright played a single note on his keyboard, and Roger Waters got the idea to record it into a microphone attached to a Leslie speaker, which created a swirling effect.
At this stage of their career, Pink Floyd wrote most of their songs separately. This was the first one in a while that they wrote together.
If you noticed something eerily familiar while watching Phantom of the Opera
, you may have picked up the vibe of this song. Roger Waters sure did. "The beginning of that bloody Phantom song
is from 'Echoes,'" he told Q
magazine. "It's the same time signature - it's 12/8 - and it's the same structure and it's the same notes and it's the same everything."
Rick Wright told Mojo magazine December 2008 that he wrote the music for this song. He explained: "The whole piano thing at the beginning and the chord structure is mine, so I had a large part in writing that. But it's credited to other people of course. Roger obviously wrote the lyrics."
The band allowed filmmaker George Grenough to use this in one of his surfing movies. The band used scenes from the movie when they played this on their 1987 tour.
A year or two after the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Pink Floyd was working on Meddle. The ending part of the movie is 23 minutes long and the song echoes is also 23 minutes long. Play the song while watching the end sequence of the movie and enjoy. (thanks, Tim - red hook, NY)
On August 24, 79 A.D., the Mt. Vesuvius volcano erupted and destroyed the city of Pompeii. Approximately 1,900 years later, Pink Floyd played "Echoes" parts I and II in the city's ancient amphitheater. No crowd was present, but the concert was recorded on film. (thanks, Joe - Piscataway, NJ)
"Echoes" was the title of Pink Floyd's 2001 "Best Of" collection.
Wright revealed to Mojo that the wind section after the song's intro was Roger Waters with a slide on his bass. Also David Gilmour's seagull sound was a mistake. He explained about the latter: "One of the roadies had plugged his wah wah pedal in back to front, which created this huge wall of feedback. He played around with that and created this beautiful sound."
The underwater oceanologist Jacques Cousteau played this during his Caribbean escapades.