The Smile From a Veil…

Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd

The Smile from a Veil

Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd is one of the most famous songs written by the group. It has a deep meaning that resonates with so many people all over the world, each of whom have their own interpretation as to its meaning.

If I had to choose, I would say that this is most definitely the piece of music/song that I have played the most throughout my life so far.

Not only is the music incredible, deep, thought-provoking and “evergreen” (to me at least) but the lyrics are amazing. This song is also in a minority for me in that it actually invokes no memories from my past. I don’t relate it to any particular part of my life or people in it like so many other records I listen to do. Zero nostalgia, just a great song.

What does it mean?

I have listened to the song so many times. I've interpreted the words in my own way for so long with respect to my own life, but I have always come back to the same meaning. In particular, I love the line:

"We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year…running over the same old ground..."

It reminds me each time I hear it, to try and do something different each year. Something new and adventurous. I have applied this to my career throughout life and particularly with regards to digital imaging. Some areas in which I have applied this to my commercial work are:

It was also refreshing and so interesting on a BBC 4 documentary, to hear Roger Waters explain the lyrics and what they meant to him.

He said of the lines in particular:

"...And did you exchange a walk on part in the war, for a lead role in a cage..."

It relates to his constant battle to not stand still in life. The desire to be a part of the “war" (in the thick of it) and not settling for a life in a “cage” that so many of us do. He referenced life to the start of a board game and if you choose to do nothing, you die on the first square.

Since the late 1990’s I pretty much ditched the life in a cage that I had settled for (for 10 years in London). I took control of my life by doing what I wanted for a living. I get frustrated when I see and hear people complaining about their “bad luck”, their jobs or their lives but never do anything about it. 

You can see my effort below from about 2 years into learning guitar. Be nice : )

So, so you think you can tell...

Heaven from Hell
Blue skies from pain
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here
We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year
Running over the same old ground
What have you found? The same old fears
Wish you were here


Wish You Were Here:


About the author

Nick Stubbs is a professional photographer, filmmaker and drone pilot with over 35 years experience in the imaging business. Still as passionate about his work as he was aged 13. Married with two kids and living in the beautiful town of Weymouth in Dorset.

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