Pink Floyd Releases First New Song in Three Decades

Song cover for Hey, Hey, Rise Up

For the first time since their 1994 release of “The Division Bell,” the band Pink Floyd has come forward with a new single “Hey Hey Rise Up.” They are featured on this new track alongside Ukrainian Band Boombox’s vocalist Andriy Khlyvnyuk, who recently returned to Ukraine to join one of the territorial defense units protecting the country. He is fighting against the Russian aggression that began on February 24th as part of the Russian government’s globally unpopular ‘special military operation.’

The song Khlyvnyuk sings in the video, “Oh, the Red Viburnum in the Meadow,” is a Ukrainian protest tune from World War I. Pink Floyd’s title for the track is taken from the final line of the song, which translates as “Hey, hey, rise up and rejoice,” the band said. 

David Gilmour, the lead guitarist, who has a Ukrainian daughter-in-law and Ukrainian grandchildren, recruited other members of the band to come together after seeing shocking footage of Khlyvnyuk. In the video, Khlyvnyuk, whom he played a gig with in London in 2015, was in military fatigues singing outside in Kyiv. David Gilmour decided to record “Hey Hey” out of a feeling of duty to take action, and support a performance given in a war zone. It feels as though there is a terribly eerie symmetry between “Hey Hey,” and Pink Floyd’s 1994 release of “The Division Bell,” which focused on the conflict and war crimes perpetrated by the warring Balkan states at the time. 

“Hey Hey Rise Up” breaks open the flood gates to rock heaven with their biblical chamber song opening, and David Gilmour’s violent and wailing guitar solo entry that comes in just as Andriy Khlyvnyuk finishes his first verse. Declaring that Ukrainians must take their sorrow and rise up, Khlyvnyuk gives the folk song Oh, the Red Viburnum in the Meadow” (that he sings over Pink Floyd’s instrumental backing) a new meaning. 

From a large repertoire of rock songs from the last century that are labeled resistance or protest pieces, I think Black Sabbath has a great perspective to offer on the war message Khlyvnyuk delivers in “Hey Hey Rise Up.” Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” came to mind. Being one of those legendary protest songs, the story in the lyrics to “War Pigs” isn’t hidden behind any metaphor or mystery that needs to be solved by reading deeper into the lyrics, such as in “Hey Hey.” It’s a straightforward message about the politicians in the US military complex sending the brainwashed poor to the frontlines to “keep the war machine turning.” When I heard “War Pigs” again recently, however, I first thought about the Russian military first rather than the US’s. Though the lyrics are about the American military’s draft and behavior in Vietnam, the meaning can easily be revived and reapplied almost 50 years later. I felt it does a good job describing how the Russian military complex has acted around the Ukrainian conflict in sending their troops over to Ukraine.

“I liked the instrumentation, the bass, and the guest vocals and piano. You can feel the vocalist’s not singing cause he wants to, it’s because he needs people to understand the pain and emotion of the situation. And, for me It’s really cool because I’m a fan of a lot of their previous work such as ‘The Wall,’” stated Adrian Randall, a first year at Champlain.

Comparing the state of the Ukrainian people to a weeping red viburnum flower, he repeats that they will take it and raise it up again. Though “Hey Hey Rise Up” carries itself in a slow, lumbering sort of way, it feels both complete and over too soon. “Some call it a shame that it seems to take a war for Gilmour to dust off the Pink Floyd brand again,” says TheTimes UK, but the track nonetheless stands up bravely in the face of oppression as any great resistance anthem should.