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Monday, May 7, 2012

PINK FLOYD When classic literature is discussed

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When classic literature is discussed, minds often turn to long dead poets, playwrights, and other revered minds of the


literary world. However, anything in the realm of modern music is often simply dismissed due to the pop culture nature of it.


Caught directly in this glaring oversight is long-time Pink Floyd lyricist Roger Waters. Waters’ lyrics of pain, isolation, insanity,


and political satire cannot be overlooked simply because they are presented in modern rock songs. Waters’ songs and albums


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are indeed valid literary works as they explore the facets of everyday life, much like the classic works of the past.


Of the many albums he has penned, each one presents its own concept. These concepts are masterfully fleshed out over


the course of the album, taking the listener on an audiophonic tour of Roger’s world. Albums such as “Animals,” a modern


insight into society much like George Orwell’s Animal Farm, and “The Dark Side of the Moon,” an exploration of insanity,


serve as all-time classics in the music world. Perhaps it was the cult-like mysticism that followed the band through their history


that made them a revolutionary cultural icon; more than likely it was the common interest that humans hold of the unexplained


parts of society. Combine this interesting song context with the Floyd’s lush sound and a band whose music has defined a


generation is born.


George Roger Waters was born September , 14 (Schaffner, 11, p. 15) while World War II was raging on. Roger,


as he came to be called, was the third child of Eric Waters - the only child that never knew his father. The elder Waters was


gunned down in Italy in early 144 along with forty thousand other British soldiers in the attempt to capture the Anzio


Bridgehead from the Nazis (Schaffner, 11, p. 15). Subsequently, Roger was raised by his widowed mother, Mary Waters.


Without a paternal figure in the house, Roger was brought up in a very no-nonsense manner. Right and wrong were clearly


defined, and as soon as he was of age, he was shipped off to grammar school. This strict, sheltered childhood had a lasting


impact on Roger’s life and music which is most evidently seen in “The Wall”.


After grammar school, Roger attended the Cambridge County High School For Boys. Here he met future band member


Syd Barrett. After graduating high school, Roger elected to study architecture at Regent Street Polytechnic, where he met Rick


Wright and Nick Mason. The three immediately developed a friendship and formed a band “Sigma 6”. After gaining


popularity locally, the trio ran into Syd Barrett, Roger’s old school chum, and Bob Close. Close immediately joined Sigma 6


as lead guitarist, but frequently clashed with Barrett when it came to experimenting with sound. Consequently, Close left the


Sigma 6, leaving Syd to lead the group.


With the advent of Syd, they decided a name change was in order. Syd renamed his new band, calling it “The Pink Floyd


Sound - a tribute to Georgia blues players Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. The new group hit the London underground and


became an instant hit with the people with their long winded “space” jams such as “Interstellar Overdrive” and “Astronomy


Domine” which featured a liquid light show projected onto a screen behind them. After refining both their image and their


sound as the regular house band at the UFO, they went professional as “Pink Floyd” on February 1, 167 (Schaffner, 11, p.


6). Shortly after this leap of progress, they released their first single “Arnold Layne,” the story of a cross-dressing


kleptomaniac. No sooner had the Floyd released it than they were taking flak over it. Radio London banned the single,


labeling it as “smutty” (Schaffner, 11, p. 54). “If we can’t write and sing songs about various forms of human predicament,”


Roger retorted, “then we might as well not be in the business”(Schaffner, 11, p. 54). This was truly a prediction of things to


come, as he would pen four albums in the seventies that would not only explore human predicament, but also set the music


world on its ear.


After the success of “Arnold Layne,” the Floyd released their debut album in 167. Named after the seventh chapter in


The Wind In The Willows, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” was an instant success, featuring instrumental tracks “Interstellar


Overdrive” and “Pow R. Toc H.,” as well as the Waters penned “Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk.” The title of the album


also had an ominous prognosis. The chapter from which it was taken was the chapter wherein the young otter Portly was lost


and Rat and Mole went looking for him. While they were searching for Portly during the night, they were drawn to an island in


the middle of the stream by the sound of piping. The island was described as “Reserved, shy, but full of significance, it hid


whatever it might hold behind a veil, keeping it till the hour should come.” Here they found a Piper, “Some great animal,” who


had found Portly and was keeping him safe until he was found. After this experience, Mole remarked “I feel as if I had been


through something very exciting and rather terrible, and it was just over; and yet nothing in particular has happened.” To this,


Rat replied “Or something very surprising and splendid and beautiful.” (Grahame, 108, pp. 74-8) This whole experience for


Mole and Rat was much like the experience of releasing an album for Pink Floyd. Until then, all of their talents remained


hidden behind a veil - with the release of an album, the music world would be able to see what Pink Floyd could do. The


conversation between Mole and Rat also holds more significance than could have been imagined when they first named the


album. True, the release of “Piper” could have been “nothing in particular,” but it turned out to be “something very ... splendid”


(Grahame, 108, p. 8).


After the initial success of “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” lead guitarist Syd Barretts mental health began to decline.


Assisted largely by the vast amounts of acid he was taking, combined with the instant pop-stardom he had achieved, he


became “well freaked-out” (Schaffner, 11, p.76) much of the time, as well as very undependable for gigs. When he was


well enough to perform, he often stood on stage with a vacant expression, randomly strumming at various chords. Irked at


their bandleader’s unreliability, the others began talking of letting him go from the band. One day they simply didn’t pick him


up for rehearsal; on April 6, 168, it was announced that Syd Barrett had “left” the group.


Without Syd, Roger took up much of the responsibility as band leader, which not only included hiring David Gilmour as the


new lead, but also penning the majority of the songs. Their sophomore album, “A Saucerful of Secrets”, proved to be a


milestone in the second year of Pink Floyd’s career. Without Syd, the primary influence for their psychedelic nature, they had


to find their own way, both in music and image. While there were traces of Syd on the album, such as the psychotic “Jugband


Blues,” the album was mainly progressive in nature. The listener got a taste of what was to come from Waters with the


sarcastic “Corporal Clegg,” the tale of a “shell-shocked war hero.” (Schaffner, 11, p. 1) However, the most evolved


song in the way of the Floydian sound that became the standard in the seventies was probably the title track “A Saucerful of


Secrets.”


With each subsequent album, Pink Floyd continued to develop their sound a little more with every release. Over the


course of the next five years, the Floyd released two more notable studio albums, “Atom Heart Mother” in 170 and “Meddle”


in 171. Although “Atom Heart Mother” did give them their first number one record, the only piece that served to develop


their sound further was, once again, the title track.


“I’m bored with most of the stuff we’ve done. I’m bored with most of the stuff we play ... There isn’t much new stuff, is


there?” (Waters as quoted in Melody Maker, March 7, 170). If there was one crowning moment that shifted things into


“overdrive”, then this would have to be it. Roger became truly bored with everything Floyd had done up to that point in time,


and he decided it was time to make a change. The album “Meddle” was that change. Filled with jazz riffs, a sweet harmony,


and even some innovative pieces, “Meddle” was the record that began the era of definitive Floyd. In the fashion of “A


Saucerful of Secrets” and “Atom Heart Mother”, “Meddle” also contained a long instrumental piece, this time titled “Echoes.”


Utilizing a repeat echo unit left over from the Syd Barrett era, each member went into the studio and recorded various


instrumental “ramblings” and whatever else came to mind at the moment (Schaffner, 11, p. l64). When this was edited, Pink


Floyd had a twenty-three minute soundscape of musical wonder. More interesting was “Fearless,” a song to which Roger


wrote the words and Dave Gilmour penned the score. With lyrics like “fearlessly the idiot faced the crowd,”(Pink Floyd,


000, meddle.html) that hinted at the Barrett situation, “Fearless” directly inspired another song. After the “Meddle” sessions,


Waters penned another song “The Dark Side of the Moon,” which alluded to Syd even more directly, but decided to save it


for a future project which was beginning to form in his subconscious. Another precursor to their future works was the opening


tune on “Meddle,” titled “One of These Days (I’m Going to Cut You into Little Pieces).” Packaged in a song that was less


than six minutes long, the slightly psychotic, yet hypnotic groove was a hint of what was to come two years in the future (Pink


Floyd, 000, meddle.html) Eleven years into the existence of Pink Floyd, they had found their niche in the music society.


In 17, Pink Floyd broke into immortality. They released an album which would “eclipse” all other record sales,


remaining on the Billboard charts for an industry best fourteen years. That album was “The Dark Side of The Moon.” “Dark


Side” was “a collection of epics steeped in Waters lyrics of paranoia, alienation, and schizophrenia.” (Pink Floyd, 000,


dark.html) This was the work that truly explored Barrett’s mental lapse, as well as some of the problems in society and life in


general that lead to other mental trauma. Working with sound engineer Alan Parsons, they seamlessly blended in a multitude of


sounds, ranging from the public address at an airport terminal to footsteps, a cash register, clocks, and the pulsing heartbeat


that opened and closed the album. Adding to the mystique of all of these sound effects were the barely audible spoken


passages that can be heard throughout the album. These chilling speeches were the result of interviewing random Abbey Road


occupants about their views on insanity, death, and violence.


“The Dark Side of the Moon” can be best described as “complex simplicity”. While this is an oxymoron, it fits the album


perfectly. All of the titles are very straightforward, yet the lyrics are very insightful, almost brutally honest in some cases. For


example, “Breathe” is simply about life and living.


Run, run rabbit run / Dig that hole, forget the sun,


And when at last the work is done / Don’t sit down it’s time to start another one


For long you live and high you fly / But only if you ride the tide


And balanced on the biggest wave / You race toward an early grave.


(Pink Floyd, 000, dark.html)


Utilizing symbolism and metaphors, Waters puts the hurried pace of life into a different perspective. With the proper insight, it


is easy to see how one might go a little awry in their thought processes with the stress of touring and recording along with the


daily duties of life.


Their first American “Top 40” hit also came from this album. The sixth track, “Money,” was not only very popular, but it


also carried a very strong message about the society of this time period. “Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash /


New car, caviar, four star daydream / Think I’ll buy me a football team” (Pink Floyd, 000, dark.html). While this passage


isn’t deeply metaphorical, it does present a sarcasm-drenched point. What is happiness? Happiness is not necessarily owning


a football team, but perhaps a transcendental happiness like Thoreau’s “Walden”. This kind of happiness doesn’t revolve


around any sort of material possession, but just an inner happiness. The way Thoreau saw it, as long as you were happy with


who you were, nothing else mattered.


Closing the “Dark Side” album was the song that had the working title of the same name, penned by Waters two years


prior in ‘71. Retitled “Brain Damage / Eclipse” for inclusion on the album, it is a powerful allusion directly to Syd. “Brain


Damage,” a rather self-evident title, refers to the vast quantities of LSD which led to Syd’s eventual downfall. With lyrics such


as “The lunatic is on the grass / Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs / Got to keep the loonies on the path” (Pink


Floyd, 000, dark.html), it refers to the actual process of his mental breakdown. This song segues into “Eclipse”, which


alludes to the final days of Syd’s presence in which he was creative and still very gifted, just undependable. Following a style


which is very poetic in nature, Waters presents his ideas in list form to make the point.


All that you do / All that you say


... All that is now / All that is gone


All that’s to come


And everything under the sun is in tune


But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.


(Pink Floyd, 000, dark.html)





Using the sun and the moon as a metaphor for Syd’s life, Roger ends the song with a good point, even a sort of an ode to


his friend. Everything in Barrett’s life (everything under the sun) was in great condition. His music was good, the lyrics he


wrote were not the mainstream of sex and drugs, but were creative songs about life. However, his drug use (the moon)


eclipsed all of these good things to destroy his career as well as his life.


After the remarkable commercial success of “The Dark Side of the Moon,” Pink Floyd had high standards to live up to.


Under pressure from the record company to come out with another smash-hit album, they did just that. The new album would


be called “Wish You Were Here”; it could have just as easily been called “The Pink Floyd Story.”


Sandwiched between a parts I-IV and VI-IX of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” a musical tribute to Syd Barrett were


three satirical songs which would immediately become classics.


“Welcome to the Machine,” a “diatribe against an industry more concerned with money than creative music making”


(www.pinkfloyd.com/lyrics/wish.html, 4/0/00) was the first of the three middle songs. With its mechanized throb of a VCS


synthesizer, its lyrics likened the record industry to a machine, only capable of producing hits, not interested in the art of music


making. “Welcome my son, welcome to the machine / What did you dream? It’s all right, we told you what to dream” (Pink


Floyd, 000, wish.html). This was the attitude that the Floyd ran into after the success of “Dark Side”; the companies now


knew what they were capable of, and they wouldn’t settle for anything less.


“Oh by the way, which one’s Pink?” (Pink Floyd, 000, wish.html). Believe it or not, this was actually asked of the band


when they were first starting out. “Have a Cigar” was written in the same spirit as “Welcome to the Machine,” but was


directed more at the executives than at the industry itself.


...We’re so happy we can hardly count.


Everybody else is just green, have you seen the chart?


It’s a helluva start, it could be made into a monster if we all pull together as a team.


And did we tell you the name of the game, boy?


We call it riding the Gravy Train.


(Pink Floyd, 000, wish.html)





This was just one of the many frustrations that the members of Pink Floyd experienced over the course of their careers. The


executives seemed to have a very cavalier attitude toward the bands, and they were more than willing to ride the “Gravy Train”


as Roger put it.


“Wish You Were Here,” the title track for the album, was an acoustic contemplation of life which utilized a series of


questions to express the feeling of disillusionment that was often felt by both Waters and Barrett. Perhaps the most poignant


contemplation in the song was the passage “We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year / Running over


the same old ground / What have you found? The same old fears. / Wish you were here” (Pink Floyd, 000, wish.html). This


accurately expresses both the unsureness that Roger often felt about the band’s future, as well as the longing he had for his


friend.


While the filler songs were very good, and extremely popular, it was the nine-movement “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”


which made the album spectacular. Following a style very similar to that of Shakespeare in Macbeth, Waters uses oxymorons


and the juxtaposition of unlike ideas layered over a masterful soundscape to create a very beautiful ode to his friend, Syd


Barrett.


“Remember when we were young, you shone like the sun / Shine on you crazy diamond / Now theres a look in your eyes,


like black holes in the sky / Shine on you crazy diamond” (Pink Floyd, 000, wish.html). With this, the “Wish You Were Here”


album is opened. Movements I-V deal with Syd’s young adulthood and the formation of Pink Floyd, only hinting at the tragic


downfall which would come years later. When he was young, indeed, he did indeed shine “like the sun”, both in appearance


and his gift for music. However, as his career progressed, and his health regressed, he “wore out his welcome with random


precision” (Pink Floyd, 000, wish.html) and the Floyd could no longer function effectively as a band with him in the group.


“Random precision,” when one thinks about it, is a very beautiful concept within itself. Random, implying that something has no


set pattern, and precision, with the implication of an exacting process, don’t seem to fit together in the least bit. This wasn’t at


all true with Syd; He was still very much a member in the band up until his dismissal in the creative sense, he just wasn’t


carrying his weight when it came to playing gigs and other vital roles.


After the three middle songs told their tales of Pink Floyd’s plight, the album was ended with “Shine On You Crazy


Diamond VI-IX”. This was a final tribute to Syd, although it wouldn’t be their last musical tribute to their “piper” ever.


Nobody knows where you are, how near or how far.


Shine on you crazy diamond


Pile on many more layers and I’ll be joining you there.


Shine on you crazy diamond


And we’ll bask in the shadow of yesterday’s triumph, sail on the steel breeze


Come on you boy child, you winner and loser,


Come on you miner for truth and delusion, and shine.


(Pink Floyd, 000, wish.html)





Thus ends the album with a touching salute to his bygone friend. Perhaps the nicest thing he wrote was in these movements


was “come on you boy child, you winner and loser, ... miner for truth and delusion...”. This juxtaposition, much like


Shakespeare’s “Fair is foul and foul is fair” (Prentice Hall, 18, p. 46) conveys his sympathy and understanding remarkably


well. Displacing any feelings of resentment with pity and understanding, Roger uses the comparisons as if to say “We know it


wasn’t intentional; you’re forgiven.”


In 177, while England was in the clutches of the punk revolution, Pink Floyd decided to get back to basics. Abandoning


their trademark soundscapes, they decided to release a basic guitar driven album for a change. They did this with success, but


the musical style was the only thing they changed. Waters, once again came out with a fresh concept album, this one taking a


look at the modern social system. This album was to be titled “Animals”, an anthropomorphism of the human race into animal


form much like Orwell’s novel Animal Farm. Waters divided up the human race into three categories dogs, pigs, and sheep.


Through his sociopolitical venom and graceful lyrics, he accurately portrayed the dogs as merciless opportunists, grasping for


success at any price; the pigs as pathetic, self-righteous tyrants; and the sheep as the mindless followers being used by the pigs


and the dogs (Pink Floyd, 000, animals.html), much like Orwell did in his own allegory.


The first animals the listener is introduced to are the dogs. As mentioned, the dogs are the opportunists in the world,


including people like businessmen, politicians, and perhaps even lawyers.


Although this is not directly stated in the song at any point, one can infer what they want through the satire which Waters used.


You gotta be able to pick out the easy meat with your eyes closed


... And after a while, you can work on points for style


Like the club tie, and the firm handshake


... You have to be trusted by the people you lie to


So that when they turn their backs on you


You’ll get the chance to put the knife in.


(Pink Floyd, 000, animals.html)





Roger has an inherent distrust for anyone in a club tie and a good handshake, but for good reason. There must have been


many times where he was introduced to a record executive much like this, only to be dealt a poor hand in the end.


In the end, Roger has the dogs die a solitary death, consumed by cancer. This is another excellent use of metaphor. It is


unlikely that they would die specifically from cancer, but cancer is a very nice likeness of being “cloaked in an air of self


importance” - it invades your body and eventually takes it over, much like a cancer does (Pink Floyd, 000, animals.html).


Closing the song were the thoughts that must have ran through the dogs mind before he dies - he contemplated his


existence. Following a style very similar to that of Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in his “Howl”, Waters asks a question beginning


with “who” in a repeated fashion to make a point about society. “Who passed through universities with radiant eyes


hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war, / Who were expelled from the academies for crazy


& publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull...” (“Howl”, 155) was a point that Ginsberg was making about the


consciousness and development of society in the mid-150’s.


Who was born in a house full of pain?


Who was trained not to spit in the fan?


Who was told what to do by the man?


Who was broken by trained personnel?


Who was fitted with collar and chain?


Who was given a pat on the back?


Who was breaking away from the pack?


(Pink Floyd, 000, animals.html)





This use of the word “who” as well as each question by Waters in “Dogs” makes a very effective point, perhaps even more so


than Ginsberg. After listening to this, or reading it, one might seriously take a look at what their life has amounted to and


perform a similar analysis.


The next characters introduced are the pigs - the self-righteous tyrants of the group. This is a very close likeness to the pigs


of Animal Farm, as it was Napoleon (a pig) that kept modifying the Seven Commandments so they would fit his purpose at the


time. Very much like present society, he modified the Seventh Commandment from its original state of “All animal are created


equal” to his version “All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others” (Orwell, 146, p. 148)


In “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”, Waters makes a quick point with the opening stanza “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade


you are. / You well heeled big wheel, ha ha, charade you are.” Not only by using the description of a typical boss figure, he


reemphasizes the complete falseness of their tyranny with the constant repetition of “ha ha, charade you are (Pink Floyd, 000,


animals.html). This makes not only for a very effective allegory of society, but it also adds a little humor while listening to it as


well.


The last parts of society are the sheep. The mindless followers of the group, their sole purpose in life seems to revolve


around being used by the dogs and the pigs, as they are too mindless to have their own thought process. This too, was also


very similar to Orwell’s Animal Farm, as it was the Sheep that needed the Seven Commandments reduced to “Four legs good,


two legs bad” (Orwell, 146, p. 7) so that they could grasp the concept as well as remember it.


“Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away / Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air / You better watch


out / There may be dogs about” (Pink Floyd, 000, animals.html) is a very accurate depiction of society in general. It doesn’t


matter whether this was written in 177 or 17, the concept still holds true. There will always be a faction in society that is


totally unaware. They will have no clue as to what is going on around them, nor will they care. Not all of them will be used by


the other people in society, but the potential is certainly there. In Roger’s composition the sheep eventually revolt and


overthrow both the pigs and the dogs, which is slightly different from the sheep on the Animal Farm, since they were much too


scared to even sing “Beasts of England” aloud (as it was ruled illegal), let alone speak out against Napoleon and the Dogs.


However, an uprising of sorts is possible in some ways. Eventually the Sheep of the world may figure out that they are indeed


being used and that they outnumber the Pigs and the Dogs, but this is not likely.


With three concept albums under his belt, Roger Waters was moving inevitably toward his magnum opus - “The Wall”.


“The Wall,” as it turned out, was a collage of all three of his prior albums - “The Dark Side of the Moon,” “Wish You Were


Here,” and “Animals”.


The main character in “The Wall”, a combination of both Roger and Syd’s personalities, was cleverly named “Pink Floyd”.


The album revolves around the “fictional” Pink Floyd’s isolation behind a self imposed psychological wall. The wall has been


built by various parts of his life and as he loses the ability to deal with these neuroses, the “worms” eat into his brain.


Like so many classic works, “The Wall” is a framework story. The album opens with “In The Flesh?,” an introduction to


the burnt out Pink. The song ends with “If you wanna find out what’s behind these cold eyes / You’ll just have to blow your


way through this disguise” (Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html), an invitation to look into Pink’s life, and then it goes on to the next


songs which explain his childhood.


The next significant sequence is the “Another Brick in the Wall, Part I,” “Happiest Days of Our Lives,” “Another Brick in


the Wall, Part II” series. The listener learns that “Daddy’s flown across the ocean, / Leaving just a memory” (Pink Floyd,


000, wall.html) from “Another Brick ... Part I,” much like Roger’s own father did. In “Happiest Days of Our Lives,” Roger


recalls his own grammar school days with his stinging synopsis of the education system - “There were certain teachers, / Who


would hurt the children in any way they could, / By pouring their derision, / Upon anything we did, / Exposing every weakness,


/ However carefully hidden by the kids” (Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html). As “Happiest Days” segues into “Another Brick In The


Wall, Part II,” the chorus (ironically, a group of school children) comes in with the verse “We don’t need no education, / We


don’t need no thought control. / No dark sarcasm in the classroom. / Teacher leave those kids alone... All in all you’re just


another brick in the wall (Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html). As the album progresses, the listener will notice that all of these


negative things in “Pink’s” life are deemed the “bricks” which make up his wall.


Another extension of Roger’s childhood in the album was being raised by a war-widowed, overprotective mother, which is


most obviously translated in “Goodbye Blue Sky” and “Mother”


“...The flames are all long gone, / But the pain lingers on. / Goodbye blue sky” (Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html). The flames,


serving as a powerful symbol for the war that claimed his father, took away his life as he knew it. Combine the pain of losing


his father as well as his overbearing mother and a few more bricks are put into place.


Momma’s going to keep you right here under her win.


She won’t let you fly, but she might let you sing.


...Ooo Babe, of course Momma’s gonna help build the wall.


...Momma’s going to check out all your girlfriends for you


Momma won’t let anyone dirty get through


Momma’s gonna wait up until you get in.


...Ooo Babe, you’ll always be baby to me.


Mother did it need to be so high?


(Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html)





Even just an excerpt from the song shows how incredibly protective Pink’s mother was, and certainly anyone who was a child


can remember how annoying this is, especially over long periods of time.


With “Empty Spaces,” Pink asks himself “How shall I fill the empty spaces? / How shall I complete the wall?” (Pink Floyd,


000, wall.html). As an answer, he remembers both the fear and the fascination with sex, a result of his mother’s


overprotectiveness, that he experienced after leaving home. The chorus of “Ooo, I need a dirty woman. / Ooo, I need a dirty


girl” (Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html) in “Young Lust” is a shining example of his early fascination with it. As the album


progresses, the audience gets a glimpse of Pink’s fear of commitment in both “One Of My Turns” and “Don’t Leave Me


Now”


In “One Of My Turns,” Pink has an neurotic episode, or “one of his turns”. After taking home another groupie, he realizes


that “Day after day, / Our love turns gray, / Like the skin of a dying man” (Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html). After destroying the


room he was in, the girl he was with runs away, and he comes to a realization that he can’t love, or be loved in the state he is


in. “I need you, Babe, / To put through the shredder in front of my friends. / Oh Babe, / Don’t leave me now. / How could


you go?” (Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html), from “Don’t Leave Me Now,” is his realization of how completely destroyed his life


has become.


Ending the first disc are “Another Brick In The Wall, Part III” and “Goodbye Cruel World”.


“I don’t need no walls around me. / And I don’t need no drugs to calm me. / Don’t think I need anything at all. / All in all it was


all just the bricks in the wall” (Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html). Pink now realizes that he has let everything in his life get to him,


and he seems quite content in just slipping into his funk. With the final song, “Goodbye Cruel World,” Pink accepts the


inevitable - the wall was built, and there was no apparent way out.


Not content with being trapped behind his wall, Pink makes his first plea for help to open the second disc with “Hey You”.


Hey you, would you help me to carry the stone?


Open your heart, I’m coming home.


But it was only fantasy,


The wall was too high, as you can see.


No matter how he tried he could not break free.


And the worms ate into his brain.


(Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html)





Not only does the world hear Pink’s cry for help, but the listener is also introduced to the “worms,” which are Water’s physical


manifestation of insanity.


The middle passage of the second disc, “Nobody Home” and “Comfortably Numb” serve as a reminder to Pink’s


predicament; he is very isolated, both from society and life.


I got the obligatory Hendrix perm,


And the inevitable pinhole burns,


All down the front of my favorite satin shirt.


...I’ve got wild, staring eyes.


And I got a strong urge to fly,


But I got nowhere to fly to ...fly to ...fly to ...fly to.


(Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html)





Once again, the listener is exposed to Pink’s desire to escape, but indeed, be has nowhere to “fly to” as he sits, unaware, in his


hotel room. He has no real friends, just the mindless fans, the groupies, and the money grubbing managers.


Roger uses Syd as a model for Pink in “Comfortably Numb,” perhaps here more than any other song. There were often


times where they would have to prop Syd up on stage because he was so “wasted”, much like the doctors have to give Pink a


shot of drugs just so he can perform the next show. “Comfortably Numb” serves as the d�nouement in “The Wall,” as this is


where Pink makes some life decisions. As the record company doctors are drugging him up so that he is able to perform, he


realizes what his life has become.


When I was a child, I caught a fleeting glimpse,


Out of the corner of my eye.


I turned to look but it was gone.


I cannot put my finger on it now.


The child is grown, the dream is gone.


I have become comfortably numb.


(Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html)





With this closing of the song, Pink begins his trial and prosecution of himself.


The latter quarter of the album consists of Pink’s mental evolution, his trial, and the crumbling of his wall. After


receiving the doctor’s injection in “Comfortably Numb,” his on-stage persona is transformed from a docile rock star to a


“race-baiting fascist” (Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html) who will no longer be anyone’s paean, Pink Floyd would now be his own


man. The first step was to confront the pathetic fans. “In The Flesh,” this time without the question mark was Pink’s vicious


confrontation of the crowd, condemning their lack of individual thought.


So ya thought ya might like to go to the show.


To feel the warm thrill of confusion, that space cadet glow.


I got some bad news for you sunshine,


Pink isn’t well, he stayed back at the hotel,


And he sent us along as a surrogate band.


We’re gonna find out where you fans really stand.


(Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html)





The song, named after the Floyd’s 177 “In The Flesh” tour, ostracizes all of the mindless fans that Roger observed basking in


the “space cadet glow” (Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html), not really caring about or understanding anything they were doing.


Much like Roger’s reasoning for writing the album, Pink decides that he doesn’t need that sort of person’s support.


Also maligning that sort of mindless conformity was the popular “Run Like Hell”. With lyrics like “You better make your


face up, / In your favorite disguise, / With your button down lips, / And your roller blind eyes” (Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html),


Roger blasts the way everyone seemed to think, act, and dress alike. Effectively proving the point, he ended the song with


“You better run!” (Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html).


Closing the album was the sequence of his trial, featuring “Waiting For The Worms,” “The Trial,” and “Outside The Wall.”


As Pink was waiting for the worms, he could have still gone


either way. He could have easily remained behind the wall with the aid of the worms by taking the path of least resistance, or


he could go through his trial and overcome the wall.


In “The Trial,” Pink is presented with everything that contributed to his wall; his strict childhood, his mother, and his bad


experiences with love. After hearing all of these things, the “Worm Judge,” proposes a sentence.


In all my years of judging, I have never heard before,


Of someone more deserving of the full penalty of law.


The way you made them suffer,


Your exquisite wife and mother,


Fills me with the urge to defecate!


No, Judge, the jury!


Since, my friend, you have revealed your deepest fear,


I sentence you to be exposed before your peers.


Tear down the wall!


(Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html)





In actuality, of course, there is no judge, no is there a jury. It is merely Pink making an evaluation of his life and coming to a


realization that he has been both a coward and a fool. He tears down his own wall, leaving himself helpless and vulnerable for


the world to see him as a human; not some superhuman person that is incapable of showing human emotions.


The album ends very appropriately, with a song entitled “Outside The Wall.”


The ones who really know you,


Walk up and down outside the wall.


...And when they’ve given you their all,


Some stagger and fall.


After all it’s not easy,


Banging your head against some mad buggers wall.


(Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html)





With this passage, Roger presents the listener with a valuable message. You can’t expect to be happy without ever letting


anyone near you. Pink had to learn through a very traumatic experience that it is completely natural to show human emotions;


to love, to be loved, to care about things. The more a humans make themselves unattainable by means of a defense mechanism


such as a “wall”, the more people will “give you their all, ... [and] stagger and fall” (Pink Floyd, 000, wall.html); that is, give up


on trying.


Through a decade of music, Roger Waters has presented a multitude of life lessons to the music world. Whether it is


contemplating the meaning of life, or helping to look at the world around oneself, his lyrics prove effective time after time.


From the biting sarcasm on “The Dark Side of The Moon” and “Wish You Were Here” to the satirical allegory on “Animals”,


Waters’ lyrics are always presented in a clear, thoughtful fashion. When people brush Pink Floyd off as “trendy pop music”,


they are truly depriving themselves of both musical and lyrical genius.





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