by Ed Lopez-Reyes
The enigmatic sound of Yet Another Movie may only be rivaled by the story of its inception: its vast drum sound, haunting melody, and immersion in abstract reverie set it apart from all other songs on A Momentary Lapse of Reason. It is also the inspiration for one of Pink Floyd’s most iconic album covers…
The period between Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut and A Momentary Lapse of Reason is a minefield in the band’s history: before this intermission, the band had managed a relative amount of anonymity despite its enormous sales, the popularity of its music, and widening internal strife. When Roger Waters and the rest of the band split following The Final Cut, things changed: there was a very public debate about the future of Pink Floyd and each of its members.
As these conflicts were being adjudicated, David Gilmour worked with several musicians on material for a potential third solo album (following 1978’s eponymous debut and 1984’s About Face). But a third Gilmour solo album would only materialize many years later, in 2006 (On an Island). The material Gilmour was working on immediately after Waters’ departure from the band would eventually be released as the first volume in an entirely new era of Pink Floyd. One of the tracks that surfaced in that window of time was Yet Another Movie.
Released as the sixth song on A Momentary Lapse of Reason, Yet Another Movie was featured on every set of the album’s promotional tour and was last performed live at Stade Vélodrome (now Orange Vélodrome), in Marseille, France, on the evening of Tuesday, July 18, 1989. Since that evening, it has not resurfaced on any Pink Floyd or solo Pink Floyd member performance.
Yet Another Movie may have ultimately been canonized as a ‘deep track’ in Pink Floyd’s catalog but it has induced curiosity over the years: although Learning to Fly, On the Turning Away, and Sorrow became landmark tracks on the A Momentary Lapse of Reason album, Yet Another Movie has accumulated a fairly wide throng of fans. When one of the social media advertisements for The Later Years box set featured the bonus live video for Yet Another Movie the positive response underscored the song’s neglected appeal.
The song also inspired one of Pink Floyd’s most iconic album covers. The late Storm Thorgerson’s concept for the A Momentary Lapse of Reason cover design was engendered by it. In his book, Mind Over Matter: The Art of Pink Floyd, the artist explained: “The idea for the beds comes from two sources. The first was a lyric line from Yet Another Movie which read ‘A vision of an empty bed.’” Thorgerson, who died in 2013 at the age of 69, also described the second source: “David had drawn a picture for this which I liked, but not madly, so I rearranged the words to become ‘a vision of empty beds’ and that’s it.”
For those who consider Yet Another Movie one of A Momentary Lapse of Reason’s most interesting tracks, there has been ample curiosity about its origins and the details that flesh the song’s construction out: 33 years after its original release, research into the song suggests that its history is widely misunderstood.
When asked about the history of Yet Another Movie, Pink Floyd engineer Andy Jackson is emphatic there were no demos of the song – “No, definitely not…” – and given the song’s unique sound and its departure from previous Pink Floyd efforts, the myths about the song’s origins in the final stages of the band’s Waters era sparks deep curiosity but are not cogent. Jackson’s response summons an overdue historical revision.
Myth and Fact
It may be difficult to gauge how a listener’s understanding of a song’s or an album’s history can shape their perception of it. In the case of Yet Another Movie, a minor historical correction gives further context on an important tipping point in the band’s history. This type of minutiae can hue one’s cognizance of a song as much as where the person was when they first heard or really noticed it.
Different stories about the origins of Yet Another Movie have been disseminated over the years through articles and blogs – and through the writings of music journalists that have relied on these mistaken sources.
Ultimately, the only reliable sources are those who were involved in the track’s creative and production process. When asked, producer James Guthrie, who remixed parts of A Momentary Lapse of Reason, points to a specific source for an accurate history: Jon Carin.
Grammy award winner Carin, who (in addition to Pink Floyd) has played with Waters for 21 years, Gilmour as a solo artist, as well as Kate Bush, Richard Butler, and The Who, among others, played a key role in what materialized into Pink Floyd’s longest era: the albums, tours, and one-off live performances between the genesis of A Momentary Lapse of Reason and Pink Floyd's final performance at The Madcap's Last Laugh, the Syd Barrett tribute. (It should be noted that Carin performed with both Waters and Pink Floyd at the Madcap's Last Laugh - and that this era also includes Pink Floyd's historic Live 8 performance with Waters).
Carin unravels the mystery:
"Yet Another Movie was started as an instrumental in 1986 and finished with vocals in 1987. There were no demos. The master we worked on was the only version.”
Carin explains that the song was not necessarily created as a ‘Pink Floyd’ piece but was seen as a potential release for whatever project it ultimately landed on – accounting for the potential Gilmour solo album that evolved into Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason.
I ask Carin whether the band considered Yet Another Movie a natural fit for A Momentary Lapse of Reason (whether it was ever subject to debate for inclusion) and he explains that “once it was developed with melody and vocal it was always a contender for inclusion (on an album), but there was no band to speak of. Only Dave and me. [The recording] has only Dave, me, Tony Levin, and Jim Keltner on it, along with a few notes of sax on the intro by John Helliwell. I suppose we were a band in a sense, although not recorded together at the same time.”
The way this production came together may have been the catalyst for some of the most interesting details in the song. The song was conceived in a creative environment that was emancipated from presumable expectations. For Carin, this meant working through his contributions on a completely blank musical canvas:
“I think what makes A Momentary Lapse of Reason more interesting is that I wasn’t working on it with Pink Floyd on my mind at all, as it wasn’t a Pink Floyd record, yet. So, there’s not the self-referential sonics that would plague later projects. It was sort of irreverent because Pink Floyd were not on my radar at all in the mid-eighties. That allowed it to sort of be its own thing instead of copying a style.”
Carin’s input on the creative choices that bridled subsequent Pink Floyd efforts may be one of the most important insights on Yet Another Movie and A Momentary Lapse of Reason. The 1987 album is one of Pink Floyd’s most unique – it is more experimental, a departure that (even if circumstantial) gave us a glimpse of a direction Pink Floyd could have chosen for its subsequent albums but did not. Although Carin stresses the song’s modest architecture, it has still managed to garner a great deal of interest and gives listeners a sense (along with tracks like Sorrow and Learning to Fly) of a musical landscape Pink Floyd could have explored more amply.
Asked if the song evolved over time, Carin says “no” and points to its simplicity: “It was only the three chords repeating. Dm-C-Gm. It just received more layers of overdubs, then a melody and lyrics at the final stages. Round and Around was a separate piece, tagged on to the end, which required a chord sequence written to the end of Yet Another Movie to connect it to the key that Round and Around is in. D minor to C#, B, Eb to E minor.”
Carin adds: “I replaced an original bass synth that had different notes with my own, I then played my ambient instrumental piece over the front preceding the intro, and continued that sound throughout, then wrote the main melody line hook on the classical guitar/voice sample to give it a theme, then added the low piano note with the complex digital delay pattern. Because it wasn’t played by a band in a room, I had to build in the dynamics with overdubs to give the song some motion. Then Dave added his guitar and voice. The drums, bass, and sax were added much later in Los Angeles.”
Gilad Cohen, a composer, music theorist, and performer who has studied Pink Floyd’s work from an academic angle recognizes the simplicity Carin describes and draws a flattering comparison: “The repeated chord progression in Yet Another Movie – alongside the overall feel of the song – strongly resembles Comfortably Numb from The Wall (1979) – only one chord is different.” Discussing the guitar work, specifically, he adds: “The long guitar solos also bring to mind Comfortably Numb with their assertive energy and the central role they play in shaping the song's mood and form.”
Cohen, who teaches a course at Ramapo College in New Jersey titled Shine On: The Music of Pink Floyd, believes the track also echoes other pieces from the pre-Gilmour era: “Gilmour's vocals resemble Welcome to the Machine; in both songs Gilmour's airy high vocal melody is doubled an octave lower, based on a repeated short melodic cell, and often ending on the 2nd scale degree of the scale (thus creating tension).”
Although John Helliwell’s saxophone part during the introduction was small, it is distinctive. It is curious to note that on the live performances that saxophone bit was excluded – but Scott Page added the instrument toward the song’s end, as it transitions to Round and Around.
I asked Page how this came about, and the reason seemed arbitrary: the saxophonist and rhythm guitar player, who played on A Momentary Lapse of Reason's Dogs of War and joined the album's promotional tour for its full length, explained that he just jumped in when he saw an opportunity to add something to the track. He does not recall a discussion about covering the original saxophone part during the A Momentary Lapse of Reason tour rehearsals in Toronto.
In a 2015 retrospective review of the album, Ultimate Classic Rock’s Assistant Managing Editor, Nick DeRiso praised Yet Another Movie (in tandem with Round and Around) as the album’s best track. Referring to Round and Around, specifically, DeRiso says “broader instrumental ideas like those helped elevate The Wall in a way that the follow up never achieved with such limited input from Gilmour. He got off some wrenching solo outbursts (notably on Your Possible Pasts) and shreds the vocal on Not Now John.” DeRiso adds: “The Final Cut could have used much more musicality – the kind of musicality found in embryonic form on Round and Around.” (In subsequent remixes Round and Around has been formatted as a separate track though it stills segues directly from Yet Another Movie.)
By contrast, Carin’s perspective on the song is more complex than its fans might reckon. Asked for his thoughts on where the track fits musically and historically in the band’s catalog and whether it was a track Pink Floyd looked forward to performing on tour, Carin is frank:
“It’s not my favorite piece, if I’m to be honest. It feels like an instrumental that was sort of coerced into being a song. Dave wrote the words, and although lyrics are an area where he lacked confidence and experience, I felt it rang truer than a commissioned lyricist, as I, personally, think a song has more integrity when the words come from an internal, not external source, for better or worse. Despite this perspective, it isn’t one of my favorite tracks, although I hope my contributions help to keep the listener engaged and perhaps distracted from its linear form.”
The song, which clocks in at 6 minutes and 13 seconds on A Momentary Lapse of Reason and at just two additional seconds in its remixed The Later Years version, is truly tied together by Carin’s work.
His hope that the contributions he made to the song were engaging certainly paid off: for those who think this is one of the best tracks on the 1987 album, the bits and pieces that draw listeners in are the result of that effort and its interaction with the song’s lyrical and lead guitar content.
Asked about the specific parts he pieced together for it, Carin explains: “I wrote the intro to the song (starting at 45 seconds), the floaty synth pad part that preceded the song, on an Emulator II. That sound then continues through the entire song. It’s a similar writing style as the one I employed on Marooned on the next record, my sampled National Resolectric guitar doing the spacey intro with the bends, etc., that sets the mood, then weaves through the rest of the song."
Interestingly, and to further underscore the creative space the song was coming from, this particular part of the track was originally being groomed for a solo Carin album: “They were both ambient compositions I was working on for my own record. I just continued them throughout the body of the songs.”
The distinctive ring melody that threads through the song was created with the same synthesizer and was conceived through an interesting convergence of sounds: “I also wrote and played the main hook keyboard melody line that starts at 1 min 34 seconds on a classical guitar sample I made on the Emulator II doubled with a choir sound behind it. That goes throughout the song. It sounds sort of like a bell melody.”
Another distinctive sound that ebbs and flows through the song was created on analog keys: “I did the big low piano note that goes through the song starting at 1 min 9 seconds. I had a very particular echo rhythm in mind that took a very long time to set up with many multiple digital delays, TC Electronic 2290’s, that are connected to each other and are panned hard left and right. The note starts on its own, then as the echoes come in, they start to play a rhythm off each other.”
Carin’s work and his vision for the song elevate the atmosphere the guitars, vocals, and surreal lyrics navigate. This was a period in music boasting an abundant use of sound effects and rather than overwhelm (as much of their use in the period did) it creates a haunting space.
That ‘1980s’ sound may have its detractors, but for younger generations, that sound is not only palatable, it is a critical root and texture of music today. The technology that helped produce the sound of Yet Another Movie has shaped the core of current, creative cultural anchors such as Kyle Dixon’s and Michael Stein’s score for Stranger Things and a lot of the work done by composers like Cliff Martinez, whose work spans the 2000 film Traffic and the newly released series The Wilds.
This is not to say more traditional Pink Floyd listeners are not of two minds on it: Cohen feels “the song - and the album as a whole” are “a departure from all of Pink Floyd's previous albums due to the strong influence of” (what Cohen calls) “’1980s plague,’” which he feels “molded the music of nearly all pop and rock musicians who've been continuing making music since the 1970s.”
But a longitudinal view of Pink Floyd’s history suggests this convergence of technologies in A Momentary Lapse of Reason was a natural evolution – even if arrived at accidentally.
Carin shares his view on this point:
"Regarding the 1980’s production sound, the most important thing to remember is that Pink Floyd has, from its earliest days, been a forward-thinking group using the very best state of the art equipment on every record. Even as early as See Emily Play, modern musique concrete production techniques were employed and this forward-thinking philosophy remained with the band through all of their great work. Dark Side, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall were all looking forward and modern for their time. And this is certainly true of A Momentary Lapse of Reason and also Roger’s Radio K.A.O.S., which were made on state-of-the-art equipment of its time."
This underscores Carin's earlier point about "self-referential sonics" - as well as the reason that many fans that have embraced the track feel it stands out: as a point of reference to a direction the band's sound could have evolved into at the time.
"It wasn’t until I reacted against that ‘80’s sound and pulled out all of the Farfisas, Solina, Minimoog, Binson Echorecs, etc. from storage on Division Bell that we started looking backwards, although I mixed it with modern sample manipulation and synthesis - but, to me, it’s too easy to look backwards. It’s pretty silly to just throw a Solina or a Minimoog or a tape loop on something to make it sound a bit 'Floydy' because the moment you do that, you’re a throwback and it’s quite unimaginative. In a way, it would be as absurd as Pink Floyd using instruments from the 1920’s on their 1960’s and 1970’s records. That is not the future.”
In fact, Carin’s approach to and selection of gear on the track (and album) was well-matched with Gilmour’s.
Gilmourish, a website that has tracked the equipment Gilmour has used on his recordings and live performances (through interviews and other publications) notes that Gilmour’s guitar work on Yet Another Movie was recorded with a Steinberger GL guitar (a notable departure for Gilmour), a CS-2 compressor, a Big Muff pedal, and CE-2 chorus and MXR digital delay effects. The end solo is known to have been recorded on a lap steel guitar.
To confirm the use of the lap steel guitar, I reached out to Bjørn Riis, of Norwegian band Airbag, and publisher of Gilmourish, who gives this track exceptionally high marks: "Delicate Sound of Thunder was one of the first Pink Floyd albums I owned and I remember listening to Yet Another Movie on my headphones and thinking 'how is it even possible'… that live version is still amazing." Riis considers the track his second favorite by Pink Floyd (his favorite is Dogs).
Riis explains: "In regards to your question about the slide on the fadeout of the studio version… I went back to my notes and also listened to the track and it’s definitely slide. By the way he is sliding all the way up over the pickups, even I’m almost positive it’s a lap steel. You can’t do that as clean on a guitar and it’s very typical of how he’s fading out on live versions of High Hopes. I would guess he is using one of the Jedson lap steels."
Of course, the live performances were all executed top to bottom on Gilmour’s Candy Apple Red V57 Fender Stratocaster (along with most or all the effects that had been used in the studio).
And still this ceaseless murmuring The babbling that I brook The seas of faces, eyes upraised The empty screen, the vacant look
Despite the simplicity of the song and its linear nature there is something unique and imaginative about what came together – and there are many Pink Floyd enthusiasts who believe all these elements converged to make this one of Pink Floyd’s most interesting (and possibly one of its most outstanding) tracks.
Irish author, journalist, and broadcaster Ronan Casey, who worked for a number of years in the radio industry considers this one of Pink Floyd’s best songs: “One of my Top 10 Floyd tracks. Has been since the day I first heard ‘Lapse’ all those years and lifetimes ago!"
And many [this author included] have had an appetite for better understanding its details.
The lyrics boast an unusual ‘magic realism’ quality – unusual even for Pink Floyd. In the January 1992 issue of the now defunct The Amazing Pudding, Gilmour discussed the lyrics:
“It's hard to explain Yet Another Movie. It's a more surrealistic effort than anything I've attempted to do before. I've tended to stick within personal experience and reality very much; but I have a desire, without getting into fiction and little stories about other people (which I generally don't care for), to find a broader base to write things about - and that's an attempt to do that. I'm very fond of it, but I don't even know what all of it means myself!”
The scripted, cinematic dialogue that is sprinkled across the song plays an important role in its surreal tone. In addition to stamping the song with a fuller, traditional Pink Floyd signature it also gives the track one of its most distinctive and memorable qualities.
Most listeners recognize the dialog from Casablanca in the song – and for years articles, blogs, reviews, and other sources have cited this part of the song’s film script. But a truly keen ear will catch an additional component…
During a conversation with Brit Floyd vocalist and guitarist Damien Darlington on their 2016 tour (which included Yet Another Movie on its set), a discussion about the song quickly moved into very specific details – including a dialog about the possibility that another film, in addition to Casablanca, was sampled on the track.
Darlington, whose appetite for perfectionism has served his band so well it might seem fairer to call their performance an interpretation rather than a tribute, was genuinely committed to resolving what seemed to be the last piece of the puzzle in his band’s rendition of the track.
Three years later, in my dialog with Jackson, it took a second, but he was able to sort it out:
“The first movie bit, not sure where it comes from, but no one seems to have got it right - it says, ‘you must have wondered why I never showed up with the horses.’” And although this is all Jackson could recollect at first, that recollection was enough to help sort out the rest…
“Found it, it's from One Eyed Jacks: ‘I, uh — I guess you wondered why I never showed with the horses. Yeah, I thought about it. Well, you know, knowin' how you was in them days, I figured you for gettin' drunk and fallin' down onto some chiquita and losing track of time.’”
The Later Years
On November 16, of 2016, Nick Mason visited the AOL Build Studio in New York City for an interview. For years, rumors had circulated that the drum parts for A Momentary Lapse of Reason had at some point been re-recorded by him. I asked Mason about this and asked whether this version of the album would ever be released (if in fact it did exist): “We’ll consider everything and, actually, the drum tracks were redone – I did actually do them but we’ve never released them – actually, I’d forgotten about that – thank you for that.” Last year that content was finally released as part of The Later Years box set.
The remixes on The Later Years got mixed reviews, as can be expected. Fans had been listening to some of the original recordings for as long as 32 years. It takes some time, when a specific sound becomes embedded in your memory, to fully unsubscribe from it.
Yet Another Movie sounds different in several ways (both on the new version of A Momentary Lapse of Reason and the new version of Delicate Sound of Thunder). On the studio side, the bass is much more prominent, you can hear an acoustic guitar more clearly, and the drums sound more spacious.
Though we know that Keltner had played drums on the overall, original track, Mason's work can be heard in a very specific section, according to Jon Carin's production notes: between the 3:49 to 4:32 marks of the 1987 version. On The Amazing Pudding interview, Mason discussed the drum parts for Yet Another Movie - a description of that segment of the song:
“It's one of my favorites on the album, I think just because of the way it was recorded. It was an unforgettable occasion: this enormous studio with more drums than I've ever seen in my whole life. We had Jim Keltner's kit, my kit, Steve Forman the percussion player with all his stuff, and two of these people known as 'drum doctors' who are ultra-specialist drum people. They set the drums up, tune them and so on — bring you seven snare drums and say 'Which one do you think you would like to use for this?' Just the power and the sound of all that air being moved by these drums... real 'drum city' in there that day!”
Mason added: “In the past, we've used musicians other than the group, even if they haven't always been credited: it doesn't mean that I'm not playing on all the tracks. On Yet Another Movie, all three of us played together — the percussionist, Jim Keltner and me. We drummed in unison but, at other times, I kept the rhythm whilst the others played fills. It's a different approach which benefits the music.”
As expected, Keltner’s name is not listed in the credits for the remixed A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Keltner’s resume includes work with Eric Clapton, three of The Beatles, The Traveling Wilburys, Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder, and Joe Cocker. His work on the original track boasts great fills and has its own character. Mason’s playing on the remix has a deeper hue and a more orotund vibe. Given how intensely the drums shaped Yet Another Movie in its original incarnation, the contrast with Mason’s playing on the remix is one of the more interesting points in The Later Years box set.
Carin’s contributions to the track all remain on The Later Years, in fact, you can hear them in greater detail, which makes listening to the song a much more profound experience: for all the feedback from Carin about the song’s simplicity, the detail, use of space, and combination of effects can really cast a spell on listeners.
The new mix did add texture from Richard Wright’s performance of the track, grafted from the recordings that ultimately lead to Delicate Sound of Thunder. “They added a tiny bit of Rick’s B3,” explains Carin, who also feels the remix could have been more exploratory: “All of my contributions from the original A Momentary Lapse of Reason recording are included in The Later Years mix. So, obviously, the band found them all essential to the fabric of the song. It’s all the same elements as the original but some are louder than others. Tony Levin’s bass is louder. It’s pretty much the same but remixed. Sort of a wasted opportunity, as I have so many ideas of alternative approaches to many of the songs in A Momentary Lapse of Reason that are more organic without losing any power. It would have been nice to present a fully fresh perspective instead of keeping all of the 1980’s elements.”
Cohen feels “the new mix is different from that of 1987's Momentary in numerous ways,” describing “the sound in the new mix [as] more boomy, with a huge emphasis on the bass range.” Cohen adds: “The guitar, bass and keyboards fill the space no less than the drums, while in the 1987 version the drums seem to capture most of the aural space. The impact of these decisions on the guitar solos is interesting: while the guitar often sounds ‘wider’ in the new mix (thus covering a wider angle in the stereo field), the narrower sound in the 1987 version seems more penetrating and punchy at points.”
He stresses that “when comparing between the two versions, it's important to adjust the overall volume; the new mix is much louder, probably using compressors in both the mixing and mastering process to push the volume up as much as possible.”
So how does Cohen feel this serves Yet Another Movie?
“The question [of] whether the new version serves the song better depends on goals and context, and is also, of course, subjective. I find that the dark, reflective and often obscure lyrics benefit from a rich, big sound, which they pretty much get in both versions.”
For Cohen, a big consideration is the intent of the original vision: “The composition – as mentioned, quite minimal in material and very repetitive – similarly doesn't clearly gain more from one of the versions over the other. Overall, the new version sounds fresher, as it features a more updated sound - but does this serve better a song from an album that so clearly belongs and reflects the 1980s?”
Those who consider Yet Another Movie one of the most interesting tracks on A Momentary Lapse of Reason will need to inform that judgement based on a limited set of releases that span 1987 to 1989. There are soundboard versions out there (including Brain Damage podcast favorites Raw Sound of Thunder and Delicate Sound of Miami) and the 1987 Atlanta recording (the Calhoun Tapes version, from recordings that were originally intended for what became Delicate Sound of Thunder but were replaced with recordings from shows performed in Long Island, New York).
It may have been interesting to hear an updated version of the track on The Division Bell Tour or on David Gilmour’s On an Island or Rattle That Lock tours: a chance to listen to the track through the filter of new musical sensitivities and preferences, and through the lens of those who were involved in the song’s original creative process. It would have provided some perspective to chew on before digesting The Later Years version.
Gilmour’s diminishing interest in large tours and the impossibility of a Pink Floyd reunion make it unlikely we will hear the track live again in either musical context. Of course, this also raises the important question of what role Pink Floyd’s ‘studio’ and 'touring' musicians play in carrying the torch for the band: at what point does the line between ‘official member’ and ‘studio’ and/or ‘touring’ member become a blurry one? Carin’s work within Pink Floyd is ample and substantial...
I ask Carin whether Yet Another Movie could have resurfaced on any of those post-1989 tours – Pink Floyd or Gilmour solo tours:
“I had suggested playing a different version of it for the Rattle That Lock tour, acoustically with synth textures to emphasize the sadness of the lyrics. "But it didn’t make the list.”
For more information on Jon Carin’s work with Roger Waters, please visit rogerwaters.com. For news on Jon Carin please visit and follow facebook.com/joncarinofficial. You can listen to Jon Carin’s recently released singles on Spotify. Special thanks to Gregory Farlow and Terrence Reardon. Photo credits: Film Forum, Jon Carin Official, Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis, Wikimedia Commons
A previous version of this article misstated the saxophone player on the studio version of Yet Another Movie. It listed Tom Scott. Although Scott also played on the A Momentary Lapse of Reason album, the saxophone on the studio version of Yet Another Movie was actually recorded by John Halliwell.