Welcome to Musical Appreciation. I hope you all had a good New Year and IT’S MY 300TH POST!!
300 posts and still going. I originally planned to do a Target Practice for the occasion, but because of how my schedule is set up, I’m left doing a Musical Appreciation, which is fine by me. The 70s were a really good time for many different types of rock. It was especially a good time for progressive rock. We saw bands that were using more complex instrumentation and compositions, experimenting with new sounds and technology, and writing that utilized vivid imagery (or complete nonsense in certain case). This was the peak of bands like Yes, Rush, King Crimson, and Pink Floyd, who also happen to be one of my favorite bands. Through their peak in the 70s, Pink Floyd have endured put out some fantastic albums from Wish You Were Here to Animals to Dark Side Of The Moon to today’s Musical Appreciation, which, in my opinion, is the best album of all time. This is The Wall.
- In The Flesh?: We start the album with In The Flesh?, which introduces the character of Pink, a character inspired by former Pink Floyd frontman Syd Barrett who left the group due to his mental health. It lets the listener know that things aren’t always surface-level and we’re going to learn more about Pink in this album. This character also has chunks of Roger Waters’ own life thrown in. The outro of the track features the sound of a bomber and a baby crying, which transitions into the next track…
- The Thin Ice: … which is The Thin Ice. This song is a flashback to Pink when he was younger. It uses ice as a metaphor for the support you get from other people. The better your support, the thicker the ice. But in Pink’s case, he didn’t have that support, thus, he’s metaphorically skating on thin ice.
- Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. 1: Next is the first of a trilogy of tracks called Another Brick In The Wall. Pink is older and his father died in World War II. This leaves him to build a metaphorical wall to isolate himself from the world. Compared to Pt. 2 and Pt. 3, Pt. 1 is much more subdued and softer in tone.
- The Happiest Days Of Our Lives: This track is focused on Pink in his youth. He attended a school that was very strict and would have teachers who were verbally abusive to the students and didn’t think highly of them. This song segues into the next track, which became Pink Floyd’s biggest hit.
- Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. 2: This topped by Best of 1980 list and was number 4 on my Best Songs of the 80s list, let’s talk about it again. It’s strange that not only would this song hit number one, but it would be the second biggest hit of 1980. In the context with the rest of the album, we have Pink dreaming of students rebelling against the asshole teachers. For Pink, these teachers are just another brick in the wall that he built to keep the world out.
- Mother: Next is the acoustic guitar-rooted Mother, where we learn that Pink was raised by an overprotective mother. She’s responsible for the wall Pink has built because she wants to protect him from the cruel world after losing her husband in war.
- Goodbye Blue Sky: Goodbye Blue Sky is an apocalyptic acoustic guitar track shows a memory of Pink’s childhood when Britain was being bombed by Germany during World War II. It captures what it feels like to be a child living in a war-torn country and not knowing how to move on.
- Empty Spaces: And now for Empty Spaces. Pink has now become a famous rock star touring across the world. This is affecting his relationship with his wife since he’s away all the time. The song also has a hidden message within it that you can hear when it played backwards. I won’t tell you what it is, just go listen to the song.
- Young Lust: Young Lust is a blues-influenced track that continues the story of the last song. In his time as a famous rock star, Pink indulges in all the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll that you can think of. This is the reason why his relationship with his wife is on the rocks. In the outro, Pink calls his wife, but then a man answers the phone and this is when Pink realizes that she’s been getting her turkey stuffed with another man. This fucks him up beyond belief.
- One Of My Turns: The story continues in One Of My Turns, where Pink invites a groupie to his hotel for a night of Pin The Tail On The Donkey (if you know what I mean ;)). But finding out that your significant other was unfaithful can get away, so he muses about his wife instead. Then, he loses his shit and wrecks everything in the hotel room, scaring the groupie away. Damn.
- Don’t Leave Me Now: In Don’t Leave Me Now, after falling into depression, Pink confronts his wife about her infidelity, alternating between threatening her and pleading with her to not go. It’s kinda funny that this is coming from a dude who was sticking his hot dog in the buns of other women that aren’t his wife. But hey. This shit happens.
- Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. 3: And we wrap up Another Brick In The Wall with Pt. 3. After finding out his wife is cheating on him, Pink’s resolution to isolate himself become more clear and he continues building the wall. This song is shorter and much more aggressive than Pts 1 and 2, showing a man who’s had enough.
- Goodbye Cruel World: In Goodbye Cruel World, Pink lays down the final brick in his wall and begins his isolation from humanity. Outside of the album’s context, this could also be interpreted as someone who’s about to commit suicide. At least that’s what I interpreted. Did I ever mentioned that this album is ten levels of fucked up?
- Hey You: Next is Hey You. After finishing the wall, Pink realizes, “OH, SHIT. THIS WAS A MISTAKE.” and he wants to reconnect with the outside world. But the wall he’s built has him trapped with no way to escape. Hey, world. Sounds familiar?
- Is There Anybody Out There: Is There Anybody Out There continues from Hey You and at this point, Pink is shouting out to the outside world to help him get out, but no one responds. The instrumentation for the first half of the song is mostly a cold synth line while the second half consists of a classical guitar solo.
- Nobody Home: Next is the piano ballad Nobody’s Home. Realizing that he’s trapped himself, Pink looks at all the items around him and knows that those items are the only physical interactions he’ll ever have and he’ll never achieve personal freedom.
- Vera: Next is Vera, named after British singer Vera Lynn, who’s known for the song We’ll Meet Again. While in isolation, Pink starts losing his mind while thinking about home and wanting to reconnect to his roots. Clearly, the wall he built was a bad idea.
- Bring The Boys Back Home: Set to military-sounding instrumentation, Bring The Boys Back Home might seem like a song protesting sending droves of soldiers out to fight pointless wars (sounds familiar, modern world?). But Roger Waters stated, and I’m paraphrasing here that while that’s partly what the song is about, it’s also about not letting anything get in the way of the people you know and love.
- Comfortably Numb: Now here’s a song that most people know of from Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb. The longest song on the album, this song is an interaction between Pink and a doctor who’s treating him. Even though he’s drugged out of his mind, Pink feels no pain and as he said, is comfortably numb. This song has two guitar solos, both from David Gilmour and they’re some of the best solos I’ve heard in a rock song. Definitely one of my favorite songs from the album.
- The Show Must Go On: The Show Must Go On continues the story from Comfortably Numb where Pink ponders if he can still perform at his concert since memories of his childhood are running through him. His anxiety has taken over, preventing him from functioning in society.
- In The Flesh: Yes, there’s two tracks named In The Flesh. I’m fully aware of that. With the second In The Flesh (without the question mark), Pink is doing a concert performance and one of his drug-induced hallucinations kick in and he believes that he’s a fascist dictator doing a speech in front of a loving audience. Well, wouldn’t you know? Pink Floyd predicted Donald Trump. I know. Low hanging fruit. But I had to get that one in before someone else.
- Run Like Hell: Run Like Hell is another one of my favorite songs on the album. Maybe it’s the 80s rock instrumentation with some synth, even though the whole album was released in 1979. Anywho, Pink’s dictator hallucination continues from In The Flesh to this song and he turns the audience into an angry mob.
- Waiting For The Worms: Waiting For The Worms is where Pink’s breakdown reaches its peak and he is just lost. It would take a miracle to snap him out of it and make him realize he’s not a Nazi. Maybe a right hook from Captain America will set him straight.
- Stop: This is the shortest track on the album and over a piano melody, Pink is so overwhelmed by his delusions and hallucinations that he wants it all to end. So he puts a mirror to himself and puts himself on trial. Speaking of trial, …
- The Trial: We have The Trial, where Pink looks at himself and judges his own character. This trial involves his teacher, his mother, and his wife. The verdict of the trial is made at the end of the song and it demands Pink to, as Reagan put it, tear the wall down.
- Outside The Wall: And now, we’re at the final track of the album, Outside The Wall. In this track, the wall has been torn down and for Pink, this means a new beginning and another chance at life. What happens afterwards is up for debate.
And that was The Wall, a rock opera centered on a person who has cut themselves away from the world because they experienced trauma and abuse throughout their entire life, which shaped who they’ve become. It’s a look into a dark psychosis that’s been molded by negative life experiences that destroys someone physically, mentally, and emotionally and the instrumentation and compositions matches that schizophrenic chaos. This makes The Wall such a fascinating listen and why I consider it to be one of the best albums of all time regardless of any genre. Oh, and check out the film adaptation as well.
And that was Musical Appreciation. Next time, we’ll talk about Power. The Kanye West song. And next week, it’s back to business with the Worst Songs of 1970.
SONGS OF THE WEEK
Another Brick In The Wall Pt. 2-Pink Floyd
Near To The Wild Heart Of Life-Japandroids