3 Songs You Didn’t Know David Gilmour Wrote for Other Artists

Upon joining Pink Floyd in 1967, and first slipping into the band’s second album, A Saucerful of Secrets, David Gilmour’s songwriting contributions to the band’s legendary collection include “Comfortably Numb,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Learning to Fly,” “Breathe,” ‘Time,” and “Fearless,” among many others throughout the band’s storied catalog.

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Producing and collaborating with a number of artists over the decades—B.B. King, Kate Bush, Paul McCartney, Warren Zevon, and Bryan Ferry, among others—Gilmour also co-produced his late Pink Floyd bandmate Syd Barrett‘s solo debut, The Madcap Laughs, along with his second and final album, Barrett, and more throughout his six-decade career.

In the 1980s, Gilmour also wrote a few tracks outside of his solo and Pink Floyd songbook.

Here are three songs he wrote for other artists during this time.

1. “Playing Games,” Roy Harper (1980)
Written by David Gilmour and Roy Harper

Gilmour first started working with British folk singer and songwriter Roy Harper on his 1975 album, HQ, and appeared on the track “The Game,” along with Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. Gilmour continued collaborating with Harper over the years. On Harper’s 1980 album, The Unknown Soldier, Gilmour co-wrote five songs, including “You,” “Old Faces,” and “True Story,” along with opening scene setter “Playing Games.”

Another Unknown Soldier track, “Short and Sweet,” was originally written by the duo and first released on Gilmour’s 1978 debut solo album before Harper covered it.

In 1984, Harper also provided backing vocals on Gilmour’s second solo studio album, About Face, and also sings on Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here track, “Have a Cigar.” At the time Floyd was recording Wish You Were Here sessions, Harper was in a nearby studio recording HQ. “Have a Cigar” is only one of three by Pink Floyd, outside of Clare Torry on “The Great Gig in the Sky” in 1973 and the 2022 release “Hey Hey Rise Up” with Ukrainian singer Andriy Khlyvnyuk, featuring an outside vocalist. 

Playin’ games you don’t believe
Tellin’ me you want to leave
What you tryin’ to achieve
With so little up your sleeve?

It kinda feels like everything’s passing so fast
Keepin’ myself straight as this track
You spend the lifetime worryin’ that it won’t last
Makin’ me run ’til I come runnin

2. “Hope,” Roy Harper and Jimmy Page (1985)
Written by David Gilmour and Roy Harper

On Roy Harper’s collaborative album with Jimmy Page, Whatever Happened to Jugula? Gilmour co-wrote the swelling rocker “Hope.” Initially, the album was going to be called Harper & Page, but to avoid bringing attention to the Led Zeppelin guitarist’s name, Jugula, which was inspired by a game of Trivial Pursuit, was used instead.

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“In order to explain to everyone how they should go about answering the questions as straight and honestly as possible, I’d say, ‘Go for the jugular,” said Harper in the 2008 Mick Wall book When Giants Walked the Earth: 50 Years of Led Zeppelin.

When you look at me
From your own century
I may seem to be
Strange archaeology
But when the winds blow
From this direction
You may sense me there
In your reflection
I think I feel you
But I will never know
As the swallows leave
And the children grow

I wanted to live forever
The same is you will too
I wanted to live forever
And everybody knew

3. “White City Fighting,” Pete Townshend (1985)
Written by David Gilmour and Pete Townshend

Gilmour originally wrote “White City Fighting” for his second solo album, About Face (1984), and asked Townshend to contribute the lyrics. When Gilmour couldn’t connect to the story The Who guitarist had written, he instead used the Townshend-penned tracks “Love on the Air” and “All Lovers Are Deranged” for the album.

Townshend held on to “White City Fighting” for his fourth album, White City: A Novel. The song is part of a larger concept of songs, loosely based on his upbringing in post-war England and the later racial tensions and darker times around the low-income housing project West London district of White City, near Shepard’s Bush, where The Who would get their start in the 1960s.

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The album, which peaked at No. 26 on the Billboard 200, was accompanied by a 45-minute film, White City: The Movie.

The White City, blood was an addiction
Now it is analyzed just as though it were fiction
That battles were won and battles were blown
At the height of the White City fighting

Photo by Roberto Panucci/Corbis via Getty Images

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