“Wish You Were Here” is a song by American rock band Incubus and the lead single from their fourth studio album, Morning View. Released in late summer 2001, it peaked at #2 on the Modern Rock and #4 on the Mainstream Rock Charts that year. “Wish You Were Here” would become one of the band’s most well-known songs and be included on the 2009 greatest hits compilation Monuments and Melodies.
The song is featured in the video game Donkey Konga 2.
Prior to release, the track was played during Moby’s Area:One summer festival in 2001. It was announced as Morning View’s lead single in June that year. Guitarist Mike Einziger noted that “Wish You Were Here” was one of the last songs written for Morning View and that “the content is about being happy living for the moment and not looking forward to the future as some event.” Vocalist Brandon Boyd also elaborated on its meaning:
“The song wasn’t specifically about a person. It was about me acknowledging a very brief moment in my life and in my experience with all of these guys in making this record. In that moment, I wish that I had somebody to go, ‘I love you, man.’ I was wishing that there was someone there to share that moment with.”
A video for “Wish You Were Here” was scheduled for an August 2001 shooting with director Phil Harder. Einziger anticipated finishing everything within a single day like previous Incubus videos had been made. Although it could be streamed from the band’s website, in light of the recent September 11 attacks where victims leaped from the Twin Towers, the original “Wish You Were Here” video would be rejected. Boyd remarked on the video’s controversy:
We spent a lot of money, a lot of days, blood, sweat, tears, and then it was deemed inappropriate by our people and MTV. . . In the original video, we were emulating a scene from the movie Head by The Monkees. [In the movie] there were thousands of screaming women and Army people, cops, clowns and photographers chasing the Monkees off this bridge. The only [thing they can do] is jump. We [shot a scene where we’re] running away from these people. That part was [deemed] inappropriate — screaming girls, screaming people. Then, our only place to go is to leap off this bridge, and it shows us descending and smacking into the water. Which, before the whole thing happened, we had a great laugh with.
— Brandon Boyd
The second version, which found substantial airplay upon its late September premiere, has the band performing in front of a white backdrop, a light breeze blowing toward them. The quickly composed substitute mixed the Phil Harder white-backdrop footage with various “home video”-styled footage shot and edited by Brett Spivey of the band members during album production at their Morning View house, including in their control room, at their swimming pool, playing ocean-view lawn golf, and enjoying other summer activities. By December 2001, it reached #8 on MTV’s TRL.
In May 2002, the original “bridge jump” version as well as behind the scenes footage would be included on the Morning View Sessions DVD. The video would also air years later on Fuse TV.