The Meaning of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb

meaning pink floyd comfortably numb
Photo By: Taylor Parkes 2009

Strange But True Meaning Of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”

Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” written over three decades ago, remains relevant and is one of the most noteworthy songs since the recording of music.  The lyrics transcend time, changing and evolving in meaning throughout the years.  The melodies lift you up, while speaking through a tunnel as if you have gone with Alice Through The Looking Glass. The meaning of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” has been debated for years, bouncing between the literal and the symbolic.  Therefore, we will now settle this argument once and for all; finally explaining the meaning of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.”

 David Gilmour And Roger Waters Search For The Meaning Of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”

“Comfortably Numb” is written by David Gilmour, while nearing the end of his first solo album.  Gilmour is responsible for the guitar riffs now ranked as some of the greatest of all time. Roger Waters then added the lyrics while writing material for the band’s next album, The Wall. The two geniuses of music combined their work into one of the most incredible songs ever recorded.

When I Was A Child I Had A Fever: Roger Waters Writes Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” With Meaning

While Roger Waters began writing “Comfortably Numb” he was deeply immersed in The Wall. An epic semi-autobiographical album coinciding with a dark post war time feature film.  The meaning of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” also seems dark yet strangely uplifting.  The most common meaning of the classic song is about shooting up.

However, in 2009 Mojo Magazine interviewed Waters who said the lyrics reflected when he was a kid. “When I was a child I had a fever/My hands felt just like two balloons’ were autobiographical. He explained: I remember having the flu or something, an infection with a temperature of 105 and being delirious. It wasn’t like the hands looked like balloons, but they looked way too big, frightening. A lot of people think those lines are about masturbation. God knows why.” 

The Most Obvious Answer Is Often The Right Answer

While this explains the literally accurate meaning of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” first stanza, much of the question centers around the lyrics that follow, “just a little pin prick, that’ll keep you going through the show, now come on it’s time to go.”  Obviously, here is where the words seem to be talking about shooting up dope, but other arguments are made all the time. 

Waters discusses the famous lines further with Mojo Magazine “That comes from a specific show at the Spectrum in Philadelphia (June 29, 1977). I had stomach cramps so bad that I thought I wasn’t able to go on. A doctor backstage gave me a shot of something that I swear to God would have killed a f—ing elephant. I did the whole show hardly able to raise my hand above my knee. He said it was a muscular relaxant. But it rendered me almost insensible.”  So….it’s drugs, pretty clear.  The substance used can be interchangeable, but this smashes any argument against drugs.

The meaning of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” is in essence what it sounded like.  The child was sick with a fever blurring their vision and the pin prick was a needle shooting up dope. The meaning of “Comfortably Numb” hasn’t changed or maybe it has, but we will still love the song regardless. Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” is one of the most remarkable songs ever recorded.