Get headphones, put them on and lay down with your eyes closed. Listen to this entire song. Don't analyze it. Don't judge it. Just listen.
What did you feel? How did you feel? What did you hear?
Obviously Echoes is an instrumental, save for a couple of minutes of lyrics near the beginning and near the end. What is this song saying? Hopefully you've already listened to it and have an idea for yourself, and my own won't contaminate yours.
The lyrics (for me) put forward the idea that we are separate, that we struggle to connect with each other, and yet that we are all each other, all the same. The words have a very heavy pantheistic tone to them. As I listen, I am the albatross, the waves, the coral.
I am you and what I see is me
Most importantly I am the music itself. Pink Floyd had an amazing ability to create beats, tones, rhythms, sounds that meld with the body, and Echoes is one of the best (but far from the only) example of this.
There is an underlying layer of spirituality in the lyrics, and the long instrumental in the middle, of tones and beats and odd sounds, acts as a cacophony emulating life itself. Then this seeming chaos gives way to order and a more normalized sound.
I'm going to break down the lyrics because they seem to have a steady pattern in them that touches a deep part of me and the ideas I hold about life.
Overhead the albatross hangs motionless upon the air
And deep beneath the rolling waves
In labyrinths of coral caves
The echo of a distant tide
Comes willowing across the sand
And everything is green and submarine.
This is the first segment, and it's fairly natural. No human presence, just animals, water, sand, sights and sounds. It sets the mood. Think of Adam seeing Earth for the first time in the Garden.
And no-one called us to the land
And no-one knows the wheres or whys
But something stirs and something tries
And starts to climb towards the light
The second segment portrays Man's creation. Not by a god, as in the story of Genesis, but naturally, from the foam of the sea. It is mysterious and mystical. We don't have the answers, but we are here. We never asked to be here, but here we are. We move toward the light (toward a higher evolution) by instinct.
Strangers passing in the street
By chance two separate glances meet
And I am you and what I see is me
And do I take you by the hand
And lead you through the land
And help me understand the best I can
Now in the third segment we have arrived. We are in our society, our cocoon, separated from nature, from the green and submarine, and even from ourselves. This third segment is the deepest and most meaningful to me. It is filled with so much hope and potential, that all we have to do to connect to one another is to catch a glance, take a hand, and go.
And no-one calls us to move on
And no-one forces down our eyes
And no-one speaks and no-one tries
And no-one flies around the sun
The fourth segment shows our failure, our inability to connect with each other, and it seems to be a cry of frustration. And no-one speaks and no-one tries, And no-one flies around the sun is an irony. We don't try? Hell, we must not be here at all then, flying around the sun!
Cloudless everyday you fall upon my waking eyes
inviting and inciting me to rise
And through the window in the wall
Come streaming in on sunlight wings
A million bright ambassadors of morning
And no-one sings me lullabies
And no-one makes me close my eyes
And so I throw the windows wide
And call to you across the sky
The final two segments are reserved for the end of the song, separated by what went before by nearly fifteen minutes of sound, sometimes random, other times organized. These lines are an extension of the fourth segment, or at least seem to be. He speaks of the sun, the one constant in our world. And then of the loneliness of living in a world without others to care for us, to stand by us.
And so he calls to the sun, the constant - Nature herself. When we have forsaken each other, what else can we have but her?
Deep, eh? It's a great song.