Sunday, November 30, 2014

the wall

Pink Floyd built a nightmarish disguise to hide from the silent reproach of a million tear stained eyes with metaphorical bricks of alienation and isolation and gave us all an education.  The concept for 'The Wall' was born from experiences during the 'In The Flesh' tour that followed their previous album 'Animals'.  During the final show in Montreal, Waters became so frustrated with noisy fans near the stage that he spit on one of them.  The band took a break for a year, during which David Gilmour and Richard Wright recorded solo albums; Nick Mason produced Steve Hillage's 'Green'; and Waters worked on new material.  

Waters reveals:  "The starting point of this whole project was me feeling bad about being on a big stage and feeling that there was an enourmous wall between me and the audience. Albeit and invisible one, but one that I really felt was there. And looking at the faces of the people that I could see in the first fifteen of swaying heads, it looked as if they were experiencing it as well. It's like when you are singing a very quiet song with an acoustic guitar on stage and there's about ten thousand people are shouting, screaming, whistling...which happened a lot on the Animals tour. There was always at least twenty people that I could see whistling, and shouting, and screaming. They were trying, maybe, to kind of be with me, but it doesn't help...'Wooo, Hey, Yeah, Get down' know and you're trying to fucking sing these quiet little songs...Well, obviously they don't [understand what we're doing]. The ones who are making the noise. The problem is that you know that there are thousands of other people there who do and who want to listen to it. If they were all like that then you could just say, 'Ok, they're just a bunch of mindless pigs. Let's take their money and run.' But you know that there are people out there who do want to listen to it, and who are interested, and they do understand...The starting point of this project was me thinking, 'Wouldn't it be theatrical to do a show and to physically construct this wall that I feel between me and them during the show. And to just cut the songs off to really antagonize the audience and let them really find out for themselves how they feel about that. So in the show, we do do that, but we don't leave it at that. In terms of the structure of the piece, the wall gets finished at the end of side two -- or in terms of the show -- about halfway through the show...And then he keeps flipping into the other persona which is the raving, facist persona that he has adopted. I could explain one thing and that is that all that shouting, the bullhorn stuff is actually describing a march from a place in south London. It's a heavily black populated area of south London where the National Front is particularly active. And it describes a march from a place called Brixton Town Hall and it just describes the roads and things and which bridge they come over and where they're going. And they're going towards Hyde Park Corner to have a rally in Hyde Park. And at the end of it, I don't know if can hear, they're saying hammer. And that's another thing. On side four, the audience who start off in between 'The Show Must Go On' and 'In The Flesh' can hear them chanting Pink Floyd, but slowly that gets taken over by Hammer. The idea was for a rock show to turn into a rally...We did do Aneheim stadium last time where the first people in the audience are 120 yards away because they won't let you on the infield. A dreadful place to do a rock show. The only reason for doing it is money. The defense of doing huge gigs like that, where nobody can really hear anything or see anything, is 'well gosh, we're so popular...there are so many people who want to come see us that we have to do these very large venues in order to accomadate them.' Which is a very nice gently out, but the reason that we all do it is for the bucks. And don't let any rock and roller tell you different because it ain't true. So, he decides that he has, we have. All those big stadium gigs. As it's himself that's trying himself. The worst thing that he thinks can happen to him is that he should expose himself, and his fears, and his feelings, and anything to make himself vunerable...This is him hallucinating. This is him breaking down...The worst thing that he feels can happen to him is that he be exposed; when in fact, it's the best thing."

'The Wall' was produced by Bob Ezrin, David Gilmour, James Guthrie, and Roger Waters during a grueling process that drove the band apart as Waters pressured the rest of the group to end their vacations and finish the album sooner than planned.  Facing bankrupcy, the band became tax exiles during the recording as well.  The album was recorded over fifteen months at Britannia Row Studios in London, England;  Super Bear Studios and Studio Miraval in Correns, France;  CBS 30th Street Studio in New York, United States;  and at Cherokee Studios, Producers Workshop, and The Village in Los Angeles, United States.  The sessions featured Roger Waters on bass, vocals, and rhythm guitar;  David Gilmour on rhythm guitar, lead guitar, vocals, bass, fretless bass, and mandolin;   Nick Mason on drums and percussion;   and Richard Wright on keyboards;   with Bob Ezrin on organ, piano, synthesizer, and backing vocals;  James Guthrie on percussion, synthesizer, and sound effects;  Jeff Porcaro on drums;Lee Ritenour on guitars;  Joe (Ron) di Blasi on classical guitar;  Fred Mandel on Hammond organ;  Bobbye Hall on congas and bongos;  Frank Marrocco on concertina;  Larry Williams on clarinet;  Trevor Veitch on mandolin;  Phil Taylor on sound effects;  "Vicki & Clare" on backing vocals;  Harry Waters as child's voice on "Goodbye Blue Sky";  Chris Fitzmorris as the male telephone voice;  Trudy Young as the voice of the groupie;  and additional vocals by Bruce Johnston, Toni Tennille, Joe Chemay, Jon Joyce, Stan Farber, Jim Haas, and the Children of Islington Green School.   Michael Kamen did the arrangements with musicians from the New York Philharmonic and New York Symphony Orchestras and a choir from the New York City Opera.  

Gilmour remembers:  "The idea of The Wall was so big and there was such a lot of stuff that Roger wanted to get across lyrically that there was no other way to do it, really. As it was, we had to struggle to get it on a double album. And also, none of the stuff had ever been out on the road before. The Dark Side Of The Moon was toured before the album was made. That determined things - they worked onstage before they ever got to record. And I suppose that's the big difference on this thing. It was purely made in the studio...Roger had done a demo, at home, of the entire piece and then we got it into the studio with Bob Ezrin and the rest of us. We went through it and started with the tracks we liked best, discussed a lot of what was not so good, and kicked out a lot of stuff. Roger and Bob spent a lot of time trying to get the story line straighter, more linear conceptually. Ezrin is the sort of guy who's thinking about all the angles all the time, about how to make a shorter story line that's told properly, constantly worried about moving rhythms up and down, all that stuff which we've never really thought about...Some of the arrangements are very close to how Roger originally had them. Most of them are just changed, perhaps, a bit. That's just the normal process we use. Bash things on and try 'em...move things around if you don't like it...I don't think it was a matter of telescoping. It was a matter of being economical and making things say what they're trying to say, quite snappily and not waste the time. That was the mood we were in and certainly Bob Ezrin helped. Very snappy and to the point."

'The Wall'  became a massive success, going to number twenty-nine in Switzerland;  twenty-one in Finland;  nineteen in Denmark;  thirteen in Italy;  nine in Spain;  three in the UK;  and number one in Austria, France, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and the US.   'The Wall' has sold an estimated thirty million copies worldwide.  In 1982, a feature film version 'Pink Floyd - The Wall', directed by Alan Parker was released starring Bob Geldof.  

"Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2"  became a worldwide number one smash, going to number three in the Netherlands; two in Belgium, Italy, and Spain; and number one everywhere else:  Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the US.  

Waters:  "As far as England is concerned, no I don't think they would be better off without it. I mean you can't just take away what's there and leave a vacuum. Most kids haven't been provided with the necessary tools to educate themselves. You've got to help children to learn. I agree with you that most children will be willing to learn if you help them to. Follow interests that they have, but the machinery that you would need to give them that help can probably only be derived from changing the existing system rather than wiping it all away and saying that whole formal thing is of no use to anyone. Part of the reason that this is in this piece is because at the moment there is a great resurgance in England because educational standards are falling for all kinds of reasons. Standards and literacy are falling, or so they say -- so some people say. And there's a great resurgance 'let's make them sit still and keep quiet and learn to read and write' school of thinking which I think is a terrible shame. But it's happening because the inner cities in England are becoming more overcrowded."

Gilmore:   "It was originally a very short song. There was going to be a quick guitar solo and that was it. There was only one verse ever recorded and we put the solo stuff on the end. Roger and myself sang the verse and then we thought we'd try getting some kids to sing on it. I made up a backing track with a sync pulse up on it so we could later sneak it back in with the original track. We were in L.A. at the time, so I sent the tape to England and got an engineer to summon some kids. I gave him a whole set of instructions - ten-to-fifteen-year-olds from North London, mostly boys - and I said get them to sing this song in as many ways as you like. And he filled up all the tracks on a 24-track machine with stereo pairs of all the different combinations and ways of singing with all these kids. We got the tape back to L.A., played it, and it was terrific.   Originally, we were going to put them in the background, behind Roger and me singing on the same verse. But it was so good we decided to do them on their own. But we didn't want to lose our vocal. So we wound up copying the tape and mixing it twice, one with me and Roger singing and one with the kids. The backing is the same. And we edited them together."

Ezrin:   "The most important thing I did for the song was to insist that it be more than just one verse and one chorus long, which it was when Roger wrote it. When we played it with the disco drumbeat I said: 'Man, this is a hit! But it's one minute 20. We need two verses and two choruses.' And they said, 'Well you're not bloody getting them. We don't do singles, so fuck you.' So I said, 'Okay, fine', and they left. And because of our two [tape recorder] set up, while they weren't around we were able to copy the first verse and chorus, take one of the drum fills, put them in between and extend the chorus.   Then the question is what do you do with the second verse, which is the same? And having been the guy who made Alice Cooper's School's Out, I've got this thing about kids on record, and it is about kids after all. So while we were in America, we sent [recording engineer] Nick Griffiths to a school near the Floyd studios [in Islington, North London]. I said, 'Give me 24 tracks of kids singing this thing. I want Cockney, I want posh, fill 'em up', and I put them on the song. I called Roger into the room, and when the kids came in on the second verse there was a total softening of his face, and you just knew that he knew it was going to be an important record."

Waters:  "Overprotection. If mothers area is often -- well I suppose some mothers neglect their children, but I think an awful lot more of them overprotect them. And go on trying to mother you for far too long. Don't get me wrong -- that's not how I feel about my mother. I don't feel that that's exactly what she did. In fact, I think that she gave me, in lots of ways, a reasonable view of the world and what it was like -- or as reasonable as she could. Nevertheless, I think that parents tend to indocrinate their children with their own beliefs far too strongly. My mother was extremely left wing and I grew up really believing that left wing politics was where it was at. But of course, all the children of right wing parents all held opposite view. And it's very difficult for parents to say to their children, 'well now, this is what I believe, but I might well wrong.' Because they don't feel their wrong. They've sorted it out and they feel they're right, but I think you can waste an aweful lot of your life if you just adopt your parent's view of the world -- or if you reject it completely as well. If you use their view either positively or negatively to the exclusion of thinking it out for yourself, you can waste ten / fifteen years [snaps fingers] like that."

"Hey You"

"Comfortably Numb"

"Young Lust"

"Run Like Hell"

'The Wall'  
full album:

All songs written and composed by Roger Waters, except where noted.

Side one
00:00:00 - In The Flesh?
00:03:20 - The Thin Ice
00:05:47 - Another Brick In The Wall, Part 1
00:09:00 - The Happiest Days Of Our Lives
00:10:49 - Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2
00:14:47 - Mother
Side two
00:20:22 - Goodbye Blue Sky
00:23:09 - Empty Spaces
00:25:17 - Young Lust (Gilmour, Waters)
00:28:47 - One Of My Turns
00:32:24 - Don't Leave Me Now
00:36:40 - Another Brick In The Wall, Part 3
00:37:54 - Goodbye Cruel World
Side three
00:39:11 - Hey You
00:43:53 - Is There Anybody Out There?
00:46:33 - Nobody Home
00:49:57 - Vera
00:51:30 - Bring The Boys Back Home
00:52:56 - Comfortably Numb  (Waters, Gilmour)
Side four
00:59:18 - The Show Must Go On
01:00:56 - In The Flesh
01:05:11 - Run Like Hell  (Waters, Gilmour)
01:09:34 - Waiting For The Worms
01:13:31 - Stop
01:14:02 - The Trial  (Waters, Ezrin)
01:19:20 - Outside The Wall

'The Wall'  
full concert 1980 

'Pink Floyd - The Wall'
full film:

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