David Gilmour is finally giving a wide release to his first new song in five years, “Yes, I Have Ghosts.” Previously, the former Pink Floyd frontman released the tune via the audiobook edition of his wife and long-time collaborator Polly Samson’s novel, A Theatre for Dreamers.
Over a waltzing acoustic guitar line and harp played by Gilmour’s daughter, Romany, he sings about “specters of strangers” and fleeting faces in a crowd. “Yes, I have ghosts,” he sings, “Not all of them dead/Making dust of my dreams/Spinning round and around, around in my head.” With its folky textures and lilting melodies, the track bears strong echoes of the music of Leonard Cohen, who appears as a character in A Theatre for Dreamers. It also benefits from Romany’s backup vocals, which combine beautifully with her father’s soft crooning.
“I was working on this song just as we went into lockdown and had to cancel a session with backing singers,” Gilmour said in a statement, “but, as it turned out, the solution was right here and I couldn’t be happier with the way Romany’s voice blends with mine and her beautiful harp playing has been another revelation.”
Until now, the song has been available only on A Theatre for Dreamers, which is not currently available in the U.S. The book is set on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960 when Cohen visited and befriended other poets, painters and musicians. To complement Samson’s story, Gilmour also recorded more score music for the audio release.
“We didn’t set out to work together on the audiobook, but lockdown meant I had to narrate and I’m grateful to David Gilmour for stepping into the producer’s chair,” Samson said previously of how it all came together. “We wanted to explore the creative possibilities of the format and produce something new, refreshing and innovative. Collaborating with David — as I have done many times over the last 30 years, writing songs for both Pink Floyd and his solo albums — we were able to bring together the worlds of literature and music to enhance the listening experience and connect with audiences in a way that I don’t think has been done before.”
To mark the release of the book, Gilmour, Samson and their children have been broadcasting live Q&As and performances from their house, where they first performed “Yes, I Have Ghosts.” Gilmour has also covered many Leonard Cohen songs in these sessions, including “Bird on a Wire,” “So Long, Marianne,” “Fingertips,” and “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye.” He also tackled two solo songs he produced for his Pink Floyd bandmate Syd Barrett, “Octopus” and “Dominoes.”