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The story behind ex-Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour's new album

Legendary guitarist David Gilmour, formerly of Pink Floyd, is out with his first solo album in nearly 10 years
Legendary guitarist David Gilmour, formerly o... 07:29

Legendary guitarist David Gilmour, formerly of Pink Floyd, is out with his first solo album in nearly 10 years.

Gilmour had never done an in-depth interview for U.S. television -- until now.

On his own and with Pink Floyd, Gilmour has been making music for more than five decades.

"In the whole process of the birth of a song and the performance of a song, what's the most thrilling part of it for you?" CBS News' Anthony Mason asked Gilmour.

"When you realize that you have a little gem of an idea that ... has -- I suppose I can only say, has to me -- a little taste of magic to it," Gilmour said.

Hearing his track for the first time on the radio also excites him, he said.

"You have this idea that there are millions, literally, of people listening to it at the same time as you and that little strange telepathy of a feeling that you're sharing something live with all those people," Gilmour said.

With his first solo album in nine years, Gilmour's music is floating out over the airwaves again. "Rattle That Lock" was recorded mainly in his home studio in the English seaside town of Hove.

During his songwriting process, he first records a track without words. Then he shares it with his wife, the British novelist Polly Samson, who for 20 years now has written most of his lyrics.

"I walk for miles with [the track] on repeat in my headphones ... But the more I walk with it and the more I listen to it, things just start emerging," Samson said. "And the music is so suggestive. I mean, David speaks with the guitar."

Gilmour and Samson, who have eight children between them, first connected through mutual friends.

"They sat us together at a dinner party on more than one occasion," Gilmour said.

"For about two years," Samson said.

It didn't catch at first, but then, "He needed a lyricist," Samson said, laughing.

Gilmour first asked Samson to write for Pink Floyd's 1994 album, "The Division Bell," but she wanted to do it anonymously.

"I didn't really want to stick my head above the parapet at all," she said.

She said didn't want to be a target.

"Big shoes to fill, you know. Syd Barrett, Roger Waters," Samson said.

But she's filled them. In the title song of Gilmour's new album, "Rattle That Lock," Samson took inspiration from John Milton's "Paradise Lost."

"What did you think when you heard it?" Mason asked Gilmour.

"Oh -- terrific, when she finally told me what it was all about," he responded, smiling.

Another song, "A Boat Lies Waiting," emerged as a tribute to Pink Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright, who died in 2008.

"We've missed Rick as a friend, as a person, but I think it was at the point that you realized exactly what you'd lost in terms of music, you know, 50 years of reading each other's musical minds and what came out of that," Samson said.

"Yeah, you do develop a sort of, um -- " Gilmour started.

"Telepathy," Samson said, finishing his sentence.

"Yeah, I do miss that," Gilmour said.

Gilmour was 21 when he was asked to join Pink Floyd in 1968 because the band's lead songwriter, Barrett, who'd experimented with psychedelic drugs, was exhibiting increasingly erratic behavior.

"It's very hard to watch someone deteriorate like that ... 'cause he was extraordinarily funny, witty, intelligent, gregarious guy. And we had hitchhiked around the South of France and stayed in campsites and busked on the seafront and been arrested for our travels in St. Tropez. And so we'd spent a lot of time. We were friends from about 14," Gilmour said.

He said it felt "tragic" because it felt permanent.

"It felt that whatever was happening to him was a rapid deterioration of his mental faculties," Gilmour said.

Barrett would leave Pink Floyd soon after.

"There was quite a long period of time when I was basically playing Syd's songs, playing more or less his guitar parts and singing his words ... I don't know how long it took for me to find my own sort of voice," Gilmour said.

"I can remember a moment when I suddenly started liking my own voice, and that was quite weird, 'cause you know that thing when you hear your voice, you sort of -- 'Oh God,'" he said.

Gilmour would become one of rock's most acclaimed guitarists, ranked No.14 on Rolling Stone's list of the all-time greats. But after Pink Floyd's success with "Dark Side of the Moon" and "The Wall," Gilmour and Roger Waters battled for control of the band.

"Are there some difficult moments? Yes," a young Gilmour said in a BBC documentary, "The Pink Floyd Story: Which One's Pink?"

"How do you get around them?" the interviewer asked.

"We pretend they're not there," Waters said. "We certainly don't face up to them in an adult way, if that's what you mean."

Mark Phillips speaks with two enduring member... 05:31

Waters quit Pink Floyd in 1985. A bitter legal battle followed, and he would not play with the group again until a Live 8 concert 20 years later. Gilmour and Waters have since reunited at charity concerts.

"A couple of years ago, you played with Roger, Roger played with you. Are you guys OK?" Mason asked.

"It's a funny old thing. You know, it's now 10 years ago that we did Live 8. And it was good to be a more or less friendly basis again after year and years of difficult times ... The charity gig, we did sit up half the night carousing and drinking and laughing. So that was good ... We don't talk to each other very much," Gilmour said.

As Gilmour heads out on a solo tour, he insists that Pink Floyd's 2014 album, "The Endless River" is their last.

"You're finished with Pink Floyd?" Mason asked.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I have been for a long time ... It's impossible anyway to go back and do that properly without Rick. And there would be no great joy in it," Gilmour said.

"It ran its course in a wonderful way. I don't miss it," he added.

Gilmour's tour will arrive next year. It will include two nights each at the Hollywood Bowl and Madison Square Garden in New York.

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