On the Turning Away

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"On the Turning Away"
Single by Pink Floyd
from the album A Momentary Lapse of Reason
B-side"Run Like Hell" (live version)
ReleasedDecember 1987
RecordedNovember 1986 – August 1987
GenreProgressive rock
Length5:42 (album version)
4:43 (single edit)
LabelEMI (UK)
Columbia (US)
Pink Floyd singles chronology
"Learning to Fly"
"On the Turning Away"
"The Dogs of War"

"On the Turning Away" is a song from Pink Floyd's 1987 album, A Momentary Lapse of Reason.[1][2] The song was a staple of live shows from the 1987–89 world tours in support of A Momentary Lapse of Reason and was one of the songs in rotation during the 1994 tour in support of The Division Bell. The song was resurrected by David Gilmour on his 2006 On an Island Tour for one night only. Live recordings exist on Delicate Sound of Thunder (1988) and Live in Gdańsk (2008).

Music and lyrics[edit]

The song has often been described as a protest song and is one of the more political tracks Pink Floyd released after the departure of Roger Waters. The main concept came from Anthony Moore, but David Gilmour has stated that he re-wrote the last verse of both "On the Turning Away" and "Learning to Fly". Musically, it has been called a power ballad. Bassist Guy Pratt has said about its musical structure (referring to the fact that he had to guide Phil Manzanera and Steve DiStanislao through a completely unplanned performance of it in 2006): "The song only has five chords in it, but they don't necessarily show up where you think they will."[3]

It has also been noted for being one of Pink Floyd's rhythmically most complex songs, constantly alternating between various time signatures.[4] Some reviewers have described it as Celtic sounding.


Released as the second single from the album, it reached number one on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart in early 1988.[5] In the United Kingdom, the song charted at number 55 on the UK Singles Chart.[6]

Song charted at 47 in the Netherlands,[7] and 34 in New Zealand [8]

Cash Box, referring to Waters' departure and Gilmour taking over the songwriting duties, said that "Atlas shrugged, and the results are stunning" and that the song "is filled with apocalyptic imagery and roughhewn rock foundations that Floyd fans crave."[9]


The music video for the track featured a live recording and concert footage filmed during the band's three night run at The Omni in Atlanta, Georgia in November 1987 directed by Lawrence Jordan (who has directed concert films for Rush, Mariah Carey, and Billy Joel). Promotional videos for "The Dogs of War" and "One Slip" also used footage of this concert. The video made it to number nine on MTV's Video Countdown in January 1988.[citation needed]



Richie Havens performed the song live (as the encore) during his 1998 tour.[12] Progressive metal band Oceans of Slumber covered the song on their 2015 EP, Blue.[13]


  1. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2004). The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate Books. p. 1177. ISBN 1-84195-551-5.
  2. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X.
  3. ^ Pratt, Guy (6 March 2008). My bass and other animals (Pbk. ed.). Orion. ISBN 978-0-7528-9335-8.
  4. ^ Brückner, Dominik. "Babyblaue Prog-Reviews: Pink Floyd: A Momentary Lapse of Reason: Review". babyblaue-seiten.de. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Mainstream Rock Airplay - On the Turning Away". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2023-01-21.
  6. ^ "On the Turning Away". OfficialCharts.com. Retrieved 2023-01-21.
  7. ^ "On the Turning Away". dutchchars.nl. Retrieved 2023-02-04.
  8. ^ "On the Turning Away". charts.nz. Retrieved 2023-02-04.
  9. ^ "Single Releases" (PDF). Cash Box. December 19, 1987. p. 8. Retrieved 2022-11-06.
  10. ^ Guesdon, Jean-Michel (2017). Pink Floyd All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track (1st ed.). Edinburgh: Black Dog & Leventhal. p. 508. ISBN 978-0316439244.
  11. ^ Povey, Glenn (2016). The Complete Pink Floyd: The Ultimate Reference (1st ed.). London: Carlton Books. p. 296. ISBN 978-1-78097-651-8.
  12. ^ "Richie Havens Setlist – Oct 11 1998 at F.C. Smith Auditorium, Loyola College, Montreal, QC, Canada". www.setlist.fm. September 2021. Retrieved 7 September 2021.
  13. ^ "On the Turning Away, by Oceans of Slumber".