Have a Cigar
"Have a Cigar" is the third track on Pink Floyd's 1975 album Wish You Were Here. It follows "Welcome to the Machine" and on the original LP opened side two. In some markets, the song was issued as a single. The song, written by Waters, is his own critique of the music industry at the time, and the hypocrisy of the band's record label to continue releasing more material.
English folk singer Roy Harper provided lead vocals on the song. It was one of only two Pink Floyd recordings to feature guest lead vocals, the other being "The Great Gig in the Sky" with Clare Torry, although that song featured no lyrics.
Composition and recordingThe song's music and lyrics were written by Roger Waters in critique of hypocrisy and greed within the music business. Waters has frequently implied it to be a follow-up to "Money" with the lyrics representing the demands of a record executive after the runaway success of The Dark Side of the Moon.
The song is more straightforwardly rock-oriented than the rest of the album, and is the only one on the album that starts abruptly (the other four either fade in or segue from the previous song). It begins with a churning riff played on electric guitar and bass and is filled out with additional guitar, electric piano and synthesizer parts to create a rock texture.
"Have a Cigar" concludes with a guitar solo, which is abruptly interrupted by a synthesizer filter-sweep sound effect as the music reduces in volume to tinny, AM radio-like levels. Finally, the song ends with the sound of a radio being dialled off-station; this effect is used as a transition to the title track, "Wish You Were Here".
The song's lead vocals are performed by Roy Harper. Waters and David Gilmour had each attempted to sing the song on separate takes, as well as on a duet version (available on the 2011 Experience and Immersion editions of Wish You Were Here), but they were unhappy with the results. Harper was recording his album HQ in Studio 2 of Abbey Road at the same time as Pink Floyd were working in Studio 3, and Roy Harper offered to sing the part as Gilmour had already provided some guitar licks for Roy ("...for a price").
In his book Pigs Might Fly: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd, author Mark Blake recounts that Gilmour had been unwilling to sing the lead vocal as he didn't share Waters' opinions, as expressed in the lyrics, on the nature of the music industry. Waters has since said he dislikes Harper's version, saying he would have liked it to emerge "more vulnerable and less cynical", adding that Harper's version was too parodic while Gilmour loved Harper's vocal delivery and called it the "perfect version".
LiveHarper performed the song with the band on one occasion, the group's 1975 Knebworth Festival appearance, during the period Wish You Were Here was being recorded. The song was also performed on the band's 1975 North American tours sandwiched in between the multi-part "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", with Gilmour and Waters singing lead. It was last performed by the band on the 1977 In the Flesh tour, as part of the Wish You Were Here set with Waters on lead vocals, Gilmour on backing vocals and rhythm guitar and Snowy White playing the guitar solos.
Waters has also played the song on his solo tours, except for the 1999–2002 In the Flesh tour and the 2017 Us + Them Tour.
A lot of people think I can't sing, including me a bit. I'm very unclear about what singing is. I know I find it hard to pitch, and I know the sound of my voice isn't very good in purely aesthetic terms, and Roy Harper was recording his own album in another EMI studio at the time, he's a mate, and we thought he could probably do a job on it.
"Have a Cigar" was a whole track on which I used the guitar and keyboards at once. There are some extra guitars which I dubbed on later, but I did the basic guitar tracks at one time.
We did have people who would say to us "Which one's Pink" and stuff like that. There were an awful lot of people who thought Pink Floyd was the name of the lead singer and that was Pink himself and the band. That's how it all came about, it was quite genuine.