Interpretations of comfortably numb

Comfortably numb is my favourite Pink Floyd song. The band which produced several psychaedelic rock masterpieces celebrates the fortieth anniversary of its most popular album the dark side of the moon this year. This song is from another popular album of theirs called The wall.The band has a history of being associated with experimental drugs and LSD. Syd Barett the original founder of the band was forced to leave the band due to a drug induced breakdown. This song is categorised by many as the dope song, the song you listen to when you are stoned and so on. But there is more to this song than just that. Pink Floyd songs have many layered meanings and multiple interpretations are possible.

“When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye

I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown
The dream is gone
I… Have become comfortably numb”

This paragraph best summarizes what the song represents. It speaks of the many dreams we dreamed of as children. Dreams which are uncorrupted. But as we grow up these dreams begin getting altered by the harsh onset of reality. Setbacks and circumstances crush that hope, crush the ambition, and obliterate the idealism.  And we get conformed into what society expects of us thereby losing our identity in the crowd. At times when you are really low, when things aren’t working out for you as planned, when you are tired of the many compromises you have to make you can relate to these lines on a very personal level(Atleast I do!).


The term “Comfortably Numb” also resonates deeply with me as the gradual numbing that begins when we first realise how morally depraved society and the human race in general are. “Comfortably Numb” is an easier state to inhabit than the constant awareness that we are living,sometimes, in a form of hell.

Many interpret this song to be a continuation of the theme that the album “the wall” represents. Syd Barett’s gradual alienation from the world. His receding into a world of drugs that separates him from the society and his becoming “comfortably numb” eventually.

There are also several references which indicate that the lyrics may be inspired by this treatment that Waters had to undergo before a concert. Wherein no one cared about his well being. He simply has to perform and the pain is somehow numbed out. The doctor doesn’t care about him, he doesn’t want to CURE him, he just wants him to last through the show. The song is made up of the things the doctor says, and the Water’s internal response. Being “Comfortably Numb” is not a drug reference, it’s a description of what all these years of detachment have done to this man, “Comfortable” doesn’t mean pleasurable, it just means not immediately painful. At the end of the last chorus, the recollection from his childhood shows a deep, innermost longing for the time before all the pain, before he had to be numb.

Hope you enjoy reading some of the interpretations of comfortably numb. And for those not familiar with this song leave everything and go listen to comfortably numb.

Swagata Dutta

I am a college student who writes as a hobby....

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