David Gilmour…we basically told Clare Tory (studio vocalist) that we did NOT want worded lyrics as backing vocals and left it at that. She says that she came up with the idea of imagining herself not as a person but rather as a living musical instrument of some sort.
1:58–2:06 the combination of Sam’s growls and that Hammond organ is one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard in music.
The song began life as a Richard Wright chord progression, known variously as “The Mortality Sequence” or “The Religion Song”. During the first half of 1972 it was performed live as a simple organ instrumental, accompanied by spoken-word samples from the Bible and snippets of speeches by Malcolm Muggeridge, a British writer known for his conservative religious views. By September 1972, the lead instrument had been switched to a piano, with an arrangement very similar to the final form but without vocals and a slightly different chord sequence in the middle. Various sound effects were tried over the track, including recordings of NASA astronauts communicating on space missions, but none was satisfactory. Finally, a couple of weeks before the album was due to be finished, the band thought of having a female singer “wail” over the music.
Pink Floyd keyboard player Rick Wright wrote this song, which is about life, gradually descending into death. Hence the angrier and more intense first half with a dying person refusing to “go gently into that good night.” The second half is gentler, as the dying person gives into the inevitable and fades away.