Pink Floyd Reunites for Ukrainian Protest Song, Its First Release in 28 Years

The stirring anthem features Ukrainian singer Andriy Khlyvnyuk, who returned home from touring abroad to fight the Russian invasion. Proceeds will go to Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
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Leslie Katz
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Pink Floyd performs on stage in front of a projection showing Ukrainian singer Andriy Khlyvnyuk

Members of Pink Floyd add musical tracks to the a capella version of "Oh, the Red Viburnum in the Meadow" by Ukrainian singer Andriy Khlyvnyuk, seen projected behind them in military fatigues.  

Legendary English rock band Pink Floyd has come out of retirement to release Hey Hey Rise Up, a rousing anthem protesting  Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

The song, released Friday, features vocals from Ukrainian singer Andriy Khlyvnyuk of the band Boombox. Khlyvnyuk ended his US tour early and returned home to Kyiv to defend his country after the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, a move Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called a "war against the whole of Europe."  

Three days after the invasion, Khlyvnyuk posted to Instagram a stirring a capella version of Oi u Luzi Chervona Kalyna (Oh, the Red Viburnum in the Meadow), a Ukrainian patriotic march written in 1914 by composer Stepan Charnetskii. The song memorializes a Ukrainian military unit within the Austro-Hungarian Army during World War I. 

"In the meadow there a red kalyna has bent down low," the lyrics go, referring to the kalyna berry, a national symbol of Ukraine and of connection to the homeland. "For some reason, our glorious Ukraine has been worried so. And we'll take that red kalyna and we will raise it up."

Khlyvnyuk's version shows the singer armed and wearing military fatigues while standing in Kyiv's Sofiyskaya Square. The video for Hey Hey Rise Up includes footage from that recording, interspersed with images of Pink Floyd members on instruments, as well as tanks, explosions, displaced families and protesters waving Ukrainian flags. All proceeds from song downloads will go to Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief.

Pink Floyd, famous for Dark Side of the Moon, among other hit albums, has a history of tackling social issues in its music, including the lingering emotional impacts of war as addressed by the 1979 concept album The Wall. Hey Hey Rise Up features guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour, along with drummer Nick Mason, longtime Floyd bassist Guy Pratt and Nitin Sawhney on keyboards.

Gilmour performed live with BoomBox in 2015 and contacted Khlyvnyuk for permission to add Pink Floyd musical tracks to his Red Viburnum vocals. 

"I spoke to him, actually, from his hospital bed, where he had a pretty minor injury from a mortar," Gilmour told BBC 6 Music's Matt Everitt. "So he's right there on the front line. I played him a little bit of the song down the phone line and he gave me his blessing." The title of the Pink Floyd track comes rom the last line of Oi u Luzi Chervona Kalyna, which translates as "Hey hey, rise up and rejoice."


Artwork for Hey Hey Rise Up features the sunflower, Ukraine's national flower. 

Yosan Leon

Gilmour said the song holds particular significance for him as his daughter-in-law, artist Janina Pedan, was born in Ukraine. He said Pedan inspired the art for the single, by Cuban artist Yosan Leon, that shows the national flower of Ukraine, the sunflower. 

Pink Floyd joins a chorus of artists protesting the war in Ukraine. Open platform Creatives for Ukraine, for example, lets artists upload their illustrations and designs related to the war in Ukraine to be used for free. 

The platform received over a thousand digital artworks from around the world during its launch month, many rendered in blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Digital art shared on the platform graced the streets of six Lithuanian cities, turning the country into an open gallery showing solidarity with Ukraine.