Gasp! Musician Challenges The Establishment. Essay

990 words - 4 pages

English Psychedelic rock outfit Pink Floyd --- already giants in the world of serious rock music --- lifted their fearsome reputation to a new level in 1979 with the release of their double album The Wall. The band, consisting of founding members Nick Mason, David Gilmour and Roger Waters, added to their amazing live act and vast library of superbly performed and well crafted songs focusing upon life, the use of experimental narcotic substances and the evils of excessive consumerism, with this concept album that rallied heatedly against the then bleak, heartless Thatcher government of the late 70s.Although it was hardly noticed by the teenagers of the era (this author included), The Wall was a themed concept that threaded a narrative throughout the tracks. (Consequently, it makes little sense to the i-Pod user unless the whole album is downloaded.) The central character of the story is a crazed, suicidal junkie. Given the name of Pink, this young man is betrayed by his parents as a child and brutalized by a strict and uncaring school system that valued conformity and discipline over love and compassion. Since “Waiting for the Worms” is one of the last tracks the story is coming to an end. Pink is beyond reach. He is contemplating his own end with the cruel and sarcastic cliché “Goodbye, cruel world, it’s over”. The black shirts, fascists and Nazis of conservatism have won and the revolution of hate has started.“Waiting for the Worms” is clearly the most vitriolic attack against the right-wing Margaret Thatcher and her conservative supporters. It combines black lyrics with a musical backtrack that betrays the listener. One moment, it parodies the naked hatred of a Nazi rally. There is marching, foul homophobic and racist language. The enemies are the “queens and the Africans and the reds and the Jews.” The listener is disturbed, but aware of where they stand. The next, however, the song becomes a sultry siren. It’s the voice of reason. A relationship of warmth and friendship is established. All one has to do, of course, is “follow the worms” to the safety of ignorance, hate and intolerance.To examine the song in detail is to understand how manipulative songwriter Roger Waters was prepared to be of the established popular music genre as it was then known in the late 1970s. The song begins in German. A voice, the voice perhaps of a concentration camp commandant counts to three to kick the action off. Next we hear the cry of Pink. His time on the planet he detests has come to an end. But the music contradicts this. The tone is soft. Pink’s departure is sung with beautiful harmony. The irony is not lost on the listener. His is not a noble end; his ending and the song’s mood are ugly. He is not the tragic hero of a Shakespearean play, just a heroin addict. Interestingly, the final line of the second verse is “walk on by”. The listener knows that he or she will walk...

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