Another brick in the Wall
Waters wrote a letter to Sharon Halford, a member of the Falkland Islands’ legislative assembly and has been thus far rebuffed. “They are a bit wary of it. We will keep exploring all diplomatic avenues so the parents of these boys know the spot to put the flowers on.”
The Wall album is, from beginning to end, a Waters’ album. “We pretended it was a democracy for a long time, but this album was the big own up,” he told Newsweek magazine after it was released in 1979.
The most salient event in Waters’s life happened when he was just five months old. His father, Eric, a conscientious objector and communist until he realised the threat from the Nazis, was killed at Anzio, in February 1944.
Waters is one of millions of children left orphaned or fatherless by the second World War. For the most part they have remained nameless and voiceless, but Waters has taken the opposite tack. The man who once famously sang that “quiet desperation is the English way” has made understanding his father’s death an act of public remembrance.
There are echoes of the second World War in the album, most notably in Goodbye Blue Skies and the spooky refrain: “Did you, did you hear the falling bombs?” and in A Brick in the Wall Part 1: “Daddy’s flown across the ocean, leaving just a memory.”
The most intensely autobiographical of Waters’s song about his father, When The Tigers Broke Free, did not appear on The Wall album, but it is in the film of the same name directed by Alan Parker. In it Waters evokes the circumstances of his father’s death:
It was just before dawn one miserable,
morning in black forty-four,
when the forward commander was told
to sit tight, when he asked that his men
be withdrawn, and the generals gave
thanks as the other ranks,
held back the enemy tanks for a while,
and the Anzio bridgehead was held for
the price of a few hundred ordinary lives
Waters never remembered his father and was traumatised by his death, not helped by an overbearing mother, who is cruelly portrayed in The Wall.
“As far as my father is concerned is that one of the things that I discovered many years ago in therapy talking about it, is that I had a recurring dream that I had murdered somebody,” he says now. “I would wake up from this dream in terror thinking that I was going to be found out. Eventually, I came to believe and understand that it is something I have carried since I was a baby, that I felt responsible for my father’s death just because it happened when I was a few months old. That’s gone. However, the loss of my father remains a prime motivation for doing this show.”
This Wall tour will be bigger than the last one, which was a gargantuan spectacle. The wall will be nearly twice the size, with enhanced Imax visuals projecting images of the victims of war.
Nobody could ever accuse Waters of a lack of ambition.
The “wall” of the album and tour was intended to symbolise Waters’s alienation from his audience provoked by an incident in 1977, in Montreal, when he spat at a fan.
He now says the wall was a metaphor for the disconnection within the band and that his hatred of stadium concerts was provoked by the atmosphere within Pink Floyd. Musically and personally they were at each other’s throats, the other members chaffing at Waters’s dominance.