Sunday, 7 June 2009

Pink Floyd: The Wall

Pink Floyd: The Wall. Undoubtedly THE greatest album of all time.
I came to the wall late having only discovered it as soon as five or so years ago. Why oh why did I wait so long. Its an absolute musical masterpiece, never lagging and spectacularly telling a story that is so painfully observed that it rings true. The concept is isolation and whether through drug usage in Roger Waters case or depression in mine The Wall brilliant portrays the feeling of self imposed isolation and protection from the cruelties of reality. I wont pretend to say that I have interpreted The Wall correctly as there are myriads of layers that can be found in this work. Its also not that I am a Floyd fan. The Wall is the only Floyd i actually like. I think for me its because The Wall is true. Simply true, as somebody that has spent years building their own small wall that they need to climb over regularly to interact with the not-we’s it means the world to me because when I do hit the depths and wish to withdraw from it all it could BE me. Lets take a look at it.
In The Flesh? starts oh so quietly seemingly in the middle of a sentence then your ears are assaulted with thunder and fire of the drums and keyboards, something momentous is happening. The show, the WHOLE show Pinks life is starting… and we end with what sounds like the impending death of his father and his newborn cries which feed seamlessly into…
The Thin Ice is a floaty elegant song who's underlying concept seems to pass me by. I guess its addressing the idea that even when things seen so smooth and nice it can all go wrong in an instant and with this in mind would seem to indicate the sudden death of his Father in war. We then hit a very familiar refrain…
Another brick in the wall Part 1. Covers Pinks life as a fatherless toddler and child, his confusion at his loss and his anger at the world that has led to this. Leading him to start building his refuge from this evil world. It’s mellow and twangy and the background of children playing really evokes a childhood feeling but the repeating rhythmic beat makes you feel along in all this. The kid in the corner while the others play. Fading into the sound again of aircraft and the brilliant…

Happiest days of our life which is essentially an introduction. It tells the story of Pinks sadistic teachers with some background exposition showing that they were simply weak men taking it out on weaker children. We SCREAM into..
Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 which HAS to be Floyds most recognisable track. In the context of the album it really addresses the moulding of schools, the homogenisation of the massed youth and Pinks growing rebellion against ridiculous and pointless authority. Instead of rebelling however he, like so many people, takes the safer “cowards” route further bricking himself into his own mental asylum. Here his teachers scornful cries of “WRONG DO IT AGAIN” cant reach him, let along hurt him. We jump into a ringing telephone and

Mother, another truly brilliant track this covers Pinks growing dependence on an overbearing and controlling mother. A woman that wouldn’t see her child hurt by anyone, that would hate to lose him as she did her Husband… so she helps and condones his withdrawal and lets him protect himself in such a harmful way. Although this is a fantastic song I think for me it pulls different strings then those intended. I’d have loved to have had even this overbearing protection in my own youth and the song simply evokes great loss…
Goodbye Blue Sky is another one that is a little hard to place. It seems to cover the loss of innocence and protection. Possibly the subtext of this is the fledging from the nest and the loss of the protection  that his mother had previously given. Certainly the bird song at the start would indicate this.
Empty Spaces is largely and ambient track really serving as a build up for the next track, don’t discount it for this though as it does a fantastic job of this putting Pink in a position to feel..
Young Lust covers Pinks drop into self loathing, a general self destructive behaviour with the repeated lyrics of dirty woman. This is another great track that doesn’t gel with my own life. Listen to it and make your own conclusions is my advice! It ends with what seems to be a cuckolding of Pink as he tries to reach who I assume is his wife.
One of my Turns is a logical step from this, largely spoken vocal Pink has a visitor to his fantastic home. His internal monologue is sung and doesn't mesh with the spoken track at all giving a total sense of dislocation. Then Pink explodes with rage. Perhaps this is the only way to breach the ever growing Wall. A way to feel at least SOMETHING. We end the track with the sounds of destructions. Of course his guest runs… please…
Don’t Leave me Now
Of course Pinks own mad behaviour has now driven away his only remaining companion. He really is isolated now in reality and behind his Wall. What to do. We could loll in self pity and listlessness letting drink, drugs and inactivity wash over us like the waves this well crafted experience implies. Of course we could also be talking about Pinks destroyed marriage. It’s all done, what to do…
Another Brick in The Wall Part 3, Pinks Wall is complete. He has a perfect sanctuary from which he never needs to emerge again. The song is joyful, ecstatic. It’s done he has his refuge. What does he need anyone else for? Triumphantly we see Pink celebrating his success in total separation from harsh reality.
Hey You is another great song that I cant quite catch. I think it shows Pinks dawning realisation that being inside the Wall is not the best place to be. He starts to feel the isolation and loneliness that his foolish solution has caused, how to escape it, how to breach his wall? All the while “he Worms” of madness start their insidious burrowing…
Is There Anybody Out There?
The separation is almost absolute, with the sound of the TV in the background we see Pinks only companion within his Wall. He doesn’t even see that. He has no sense of others and his life is all there is…and it doesn’t matter.
Nobody’s Home seems to be a study of Pinks quest to find himself again. To feel his worth and value. There is nobody there to appreciate this because he has already driven away those that he cared about. He is alone.
Vera and Bring the Boys Back Home I think this indicates an intervention in Pinks life, an attempt to bring him back and free him from his constraints.

Comfortably Numb apparently this is about drug use, particularly overdosing. It rings bells with me because this is exactly how depression can feel. You have nothing, no pain, no loss just a sense of weight on the chest and the impetus to do absolutely nothing. This is truly an amazing track.
The Show Must Go On, after Pinks brush with death the implication is passed that reality must be seen to be normal. We must continue as if nothing is wrong. But it is because
In the Flesh Pink has totally retreated to a fantasy world. He is the man and everyone else unimportant, the wall is his fortress and from it HE will decide. The wall is his own metaphor for his inflexibility to anyone else.  We have a reprise of the beginning theme and some truly outstanding lyrics that would be extremely controversial if released now.
Run Like Hell I think by this point Pinks problem has reached such great levels that he will be helped whether he likes it or not, and he does not.
Waiting for the Worms Pink has virtually gone. He is inside his wall, and he will let the worms destroy what sanity he has left. If he isn't helped soon there will be nothing left to help. The worms will take what they need and Pink will be gone. At the last minute Pink gets the help he needs.
Stop shows Pinks acceptance of his fate…he will submit to trail to see if he can be judged insane…
The Trial is the last major track on the album and it really is epic. It sums up Pinks life showing the aspects that built the flawed man that Pink is today. The verdict, he is Guilty. His sentence TEAR DOWN THE WALL gleefully shouted. The very sentence is the cure and we triumphantly see a return to normality for the seemingly cured Pink. However…
Outside the Wall end the album on a sublimely with a subtle nod at the cyclical nature of the problems at we end album with the start of the line that we started with.
If you have never heard this album sequentially and in its entirety i suggest that you do so now. It truly is a masterpiece. Set aside 80 minutes to just listen, you will not regret it. Before I get any flack for these interpretations that just what the are. The Wall is what you make it.
Paul Out…and uncomfortably un-numb.
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