Tuesday, November 11, 2008

7. Pink Floyd - The Wall

I love Pink Floyd. We go back a long way. But even the closest of friends have differences.

When I was 17 and still finding genius in the lyrics of Genesis and the gaudy masterpieces of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, The Wall came off like a brilliant novel, a work of art, an anthem and a stoner's delight all in one. But years later, with the blinders of youth gone and the last joint stubbed out too many years ago and the knowledge that Roger Waters is a prick, The Wall just doesn't hold up like I thought it would.

Most of the album is Waters' acid-fueled ego trip. It personified angst before Cobain put on his first flannel jacket. It was emo before the guy from Dashboard Confessional ever shed his first heartbroken tear. It was the epitome of mother issues set to music before all those nu-metal bands made parental abandonment a niche market. It's a group therapy session at a drug detox center set to music. So why do I still listen to it? And it is the music that saves The Wall from being nothing more than a pretentious, self-absorbed LiveJournal entry. I love Gilmour's work on this album. Comfortably Numb contains one of the greatest guitar solos in the history of guitars - Gilmour is able to evoke more emotion with the movement of his fingers than Waters managed to eke out in all the words within the album. I listen to The Wall mainly because I still get a rush from the inherent violence and anger unleashed in the short, yet powerful, Happiest Days of our Lives; but that's from the way it's set up musically, and not from the lyrics.

I saw Pink Floyd on this tour three nights during their five night stand at Nassau Coliseum in 1980. One of the most amazing shows I've ever witnessed, which will always keep this album close to my heart.

Favorite song: The Trial (a sentimental pick)
The Wall at wiki


Cullen said...

The popularity of The Wall always seems to overshadow the better music on Dark Side of the Moon and Shine On You Crazy Diamond and the popularity of those two always seem to overshadow the masterful work on Animals.

Animals has to be the most overlooked Floyd album out there.

Rod Knowlton said...

I'll agree with cullen on the musical ranking, right down to the under-appreciated Animals, but The Wall is still my favorite Floyd album. I love the sheer scope of it, and the theme of alienation really resonated with me in a way that's never really gone away.

I still give it an end-to-end listen at least once a year. The Trial is also my (also sentimental) favorite track, both for the orchestration and for the cathartic "TEAR DOWN THE WALL!" ruling.

Solonor Rasreth said...

When I was young and foolish, I listened to this album (always with headphones) a thousand times. It was so awesome. And the movie was a masterpiece.

Fast forward to a couple of years ago when I tried to introduce my teenage son to the joys of The Wall movie. I'm amazed he listens to me about anything anymore. What a load of crap!

If you need evidence of how radically your tastes change, just try and eat the same cereal or watch the same cartoons, tv shows or movies you thought were so profound when you were a kid.

Still, I don't put the album in the same class as Cap'n Crunch. I like a lot of it still (especially "Comfortably Numb"), but it's not anywhere near the level of Dark Side or Animals. (I still have a soft spot for Ummagumma..."Careful With That Axe, Eugene"!)