Who Wrote Pink Floyd Songs: Everything About Songwriting

With their unique brand of philosophical art-rock, Pink Floyd rose to become one of history’s most influential bands. Formed in 1965, the group consisted of Cambridge natives Roger Waters (bass), Nick Mason (drums), Richard Wright (keyboards), and original frontman Syd Barrett (guitar/vocals). After Barrett’s 1968 departure due to mental health struggles, David Gilmour stepped in on guitar and shared vocals with Waters. This core trio of Waters, Gilmour, and Wright then catapulted Pink Floyd into superstardom throughout the 1970s as they perfected the cerebral concept album. But with lavish productions and dense songwriting, the question remained: who actually wrote Pink Floyd’s classic songs?

Overview of Pink Floyd’s Core Songwriters

Before diving into the specifics, let’s briefly introduce Pink Floyd’s three key songwriters over the years and their roles:

  • Roger Waters: Bassist and main songwriter from 1968–1985. Wrote lyrics focused on philosophical themes. Known for albums like The Dark Side of the MoonWish You Were Here, and The Wall.
  • David Gilmour: Joined in 1967 as guitarist and co-lead vocalist. Known for lyrical guitar solos and melodic contributions. Became primary songwriter after Waters’ departure.
  • Richard Wright: Keyboardist and sometimes lyricist from 1965-1979, 1987-1996. Added ambient textures and emotional musical passages.

Other members like drummer Nick Mason, early guitarist Syd Barrett, and keyboardist Richard Wright also received co-writing credits on select songs.

Now let’s dive into the songwriting credits, starting with those written solely by each main writer.

Songs Written Solely by Roger Waters

As Pink Floyd’s chief lyricist for nearly 20 years, the majority of Waters’ songwriting credits come from solo efforts. He wrote the following 58 songs alone:

  • Let There Be More Light
  • Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
  • Corporal Clegg
  • Cirrus Minor
  • The Nile Song
  • Crying Song
  • Green Is The Colour
  • Cymbaline
  • Grantchester Meadows
  • Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict
  • If
  • Julia Dream
  • Biding My Time
  • San Tropez
  • Free Four
  • Money
  • Brain Damage
  • Eclipse
  • Welcome To The Machine
  • Have A Cigar
  • Pigs On The Wing (Part 1)
  • Pigs (Three Different Ones)
  • Sheep
  • Pigs On The Wing (Part 2)
  • In The Flesh?
  • The Thin Ice
  • Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. 1
  • The Happiest Days Of Our Lives
  • Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. 2
  • Mother
  • Goodbye Blue Sky
  • Empty Spaces
  • One Of My Turns
  • Don’t Leave Me Now
  • Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. 3
  • Goodbye Cruel World
  • Hey You
  • Is There Anybody Out There?
  • Nobody Home
  • Vera
  • Bring The Boys Back Home
  • The Show Must Go On
  • In The Flesh
  • Waiting For The Worms
  • Stop
  • Outside The Wall
  • The Post War Dream
  • Your Possible Pasts
  • One Of The Few
  • The Hero’s Return
  • The Gunner’s Dream
  • Paranoid Eyes
  • Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert
  • The Fletcher Memorial Home
  • Southampton Dock
  • The Final Cut
  • Not Now John
  • Two Suns In The Sunset

That’s quite an impressive songwriting resume! Notice Waters dominated the writing credits on landmark Pink Floyd albums like _The Wall, Wish You Were Here, Animals, _and The Final Cut.

Songs Written Solely by David Gilmour

While best known for his lyrical guitar playing, David Gilmour does have a number of solo songwriting credits in Pink Floyd’s catalog:

  • A Spanish Piece
  • The Narrow Way (Parts I-III)
  • Fat Old Sun
  • Childhood’s End

Though small in number, songs like “Fat Old Sun” and “Childhood’s End” are among Pink Floyd’s most beloved album tracks. Gilmour would take on a larger songwriting role following Waters’ departure in the late 1980s.

Songs Written Solely by Richard Wright

Often overlooked, keyboard maestro Richard Wright contributed some all-time gems to Pink Floyd’s catalog:

  • Remember A Day
  • See Saw
  • Sysyphus (Parts I-IV)
  • Summer ’68
  • Paint Box
  • The Great Gig In The Sky

Wright’s atmospheric keyboard textures were integral to Pink Floyd’s signature sound. Songs like “The Great Gig In The Sky” demonstrate his brilliance as a songwriter and arranger.

Songs Written by Gilmour and Waters

The guitar duo of Gilmour and Waters co-wrote several major Pink Floyd classics over the years:

  • A Pillow Of Winds
  • Fearless
  • Obscured By Clouds
  • The Gold It’s In The…
  • Wots…Uh The Deal?
  • On The Run
  • Wish You Were Here
  • Dogs
  • Young Lust
  • Comfortably Numb
  • Run Like Hell

From Wish You Were Here’s title track to The Wall’s explosive “Comfortably Numb” guitar solo, this dynamic duo created some all-timers when they collaborated.

Songs Written by Waters and Wright

The more lyrical Waters combined forces with the more atmospheric Wright to co-write these three songs:

  • Burning Bridges
  • Stay
  • Us And Them

While a short list, the towering “Us And Them” remains one of Pink Floyd’s most beloved compositions.

Songs Written by Gilmour, Waters, Wright, and Mason

When all four musicians combined their talents, epic magic unfolded. Pink Floyd wrote these songs as a foursome:

  • A Saucerful Of Secrets
  • Party Sequence
  • Main Theme
  • Ibiza Bar
  • More Blues
  • Quicksilver
  • Dramatic Piece
  • Atom Heart Mother
  • Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast
  • Careful With That Axe, Eugene
  • One Of These Days
  • Seamus
  • Echoes
  • When You’re In
  • Absolutely Curtains
  • Breathe In The Air
  • Time
  • Breathe (Reprise)
  • Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Pts. I-V
  • Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Pts. VI-IX

From the 23-minute “Echoes” to “Time”s sweeping transitions, the talent fusion of all four members spawned Pink Floyd’s most epic endeavors. Their creative chemistry was never stronger than in the early 1970s.

Other Notable Songwriting Credits

A few other names pop up in the songwriting credits for Pink Floyd:

  • Jugband Blues – Syd Barrett
  • Up The Khyber – Nick Mason/Rick Wright
  • The Grand Vizier’s Garden Party (Parts I–III) – Nick Mason
  • Mudmen – Richard Wright/David Gilmour
  • Speak To Me – Nick Mason
  • Any Colour You Like – David Gilmour/Nick Mason/Richard Wright
  • The Trial – Roger Waters/Bob Ezrin

These songs came from some of Pink Floyd’s early albums and film soundtracks. Barrett, Mason, and producer Bob Ezrin made small but meaningful contributions.

Summary By Member

If we tally up all of the songwriting credits for Pink Floyd members, the numbers shake out as follows:

  • Roger Waters: 93 songs
  • David Gilmour: 37 songs (39 if you count The Narrow Way’s 3 parts separately)
  • Richard Wright: 32 songs (35 if you count Sysyphus’ 4 parts separately)
  • Nick Mason: 7 songs (9 if you count Grand Vizier’s Garden Party’s 3 parts separately)

So by pure songwriting volume, Waters takes the title. But the output of Gilmour and Wright is extremely impressive as well.

And while his songwriting credits are the fewest, Nick Mason’s epic drumming is just as vital to Pink Floyd’s singular sound.

Breaking Down The Writing Process

So how did these four musical masterminds actually write all these classic tunes?

In the early days, the band would often jam together in the studio until ideas started to crystallize into song structures.

But in later albums, Waters took a leadership role and brought more fully formed song ideas to the group. He would write initial demos on an acoustic guitar or piano, outline general ideas, and record simple tapings of melodies and lyrics.

Gilmour would then take those raw ideas and expand them with guitar parts and solos. He also assisted with finalizing melodies and song structures.

As for lyrics, Roger Waters focused on themes of human conflict, greed, fear, time, death, and mental illness. The music matched his poetic yet hard-hitting words.

Wright’s keyboards and textures complemented those themes with emotional fragility and melancholy. His contributions provided a softer counterpoint to Waters’ biting lyricism.

So while Waters often originated the concepts, Gilmour and Wright’s additions completed Pink Floyd’s recordings into transcendent songs.

The collaborations with engineer Alan Parsons also massaged the material into top sonic shape through careful editing, panning, and effects.

Through this combination of forces, the four members (five including Parsons) nurtured simple musical ideas into all-time rock classics.

Lasting Influence

Decades later, Pink Floyd’s albums still land on all-time-great lists and their songs endure on classic rock radio.

Very few bands can match their consistency in delivering absolute grade-A material for well over a decade:

  • 15 studio albums
  • Over 120 combined songwriting credits
  • 75+ million albums sold
  • Songwriting that shaped entire genres

All of that legendary output stems from the creative friction and chemistry between Roger Waters, David Gilmour, and Richard Wright.

They each brought immense talent and unconventional flair to the musical equation. And Pink Floyd’s catalog of perfect albums and life-changing songs is the output.

While they had a messy breakup and war of words through the media, the quality and influence of those songs remain untouched. That is the greatest legacy of the Waters/Gilmour/Wright songwriting partnership.

So hopefully this breakdown has shed light on the writing credits behind Pink Floyd’s monumental works. They produced countless all-time classics—which makes parsing the specifics rather tricky.

But don’t just take my word for it! What are your favorite Pink Floyd songs? And did any songwriting credits here surprise you? Let me know about that!