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Captain Ed's AOTM February 2022: Pink Floyd - The Wall

Ed Seith

Supreme Galactic Overlord
Staff member
  • Nov 11, 2019
    Marana, AZ USA
    By this point, you’ve all heard Comfortably Numb, the classic rock song with what is often regarded as the best blues-rock solo of all time, and the blistering coda, where a fiery David Gilmour peels paint from walls with his multi-million dollar black Stratocaster. Hell, even modern blues man Eric Gales, on his new album The Crown, takes his shot at Gilmour’s coda on “Too Close to the Fire” (WELL worth your time to listen to – Gales is pure fire!)

    Many of you have probably also heard the childrens’ choir demanding that “We don’t need no education” in Another Brick in the Wall, Pt 2.

    But “The Wall” is something else entirely. Released in late 1979 in the long shadow of sales behemoth Dark Side of the Moon (45 million sold, and counting, Dark Side remained on the Billboard charts for 741 weeks, from it’s release in 1973 all the way until 1988), The Wall is singer, bass player, and songwriter Roger Waters’ invitation into a severely fractured mind, his own (with a little of former Pink Floyd vocalist Syd Barrett added in). Broken at a young age by the loss of a father he barely knew in World War II, the album tells the internalized story of a man loosely based on Waters numbing himself and building a wall around his mind and soul to isolate from an increasingly painful and fearful existence.

    He becomes a famous musician, embraces fascism, drugs and excess in a continuing effort to suppress that which would break him, until it cannot be contained any longer.

    It is a theatrical album, one of the early blueprints for a concept album, with many repeating musical and lyrical themes, short vignettes, and performances that are more acting than singing. You can hear where this album was a huge influence on later bands like Queensryche and Dream Theater.

    And it is absolute fucking brilliance.

    I knew Another Brick in the Wall, Pt 2 from being played on the radio near-constantly in 1980, when I was a child, and I picked up Floyd’s live album Delicate Sound of Thunder as one of my very first CDs, spurred on by a transcription of Comfortably Numb in a guitar magazine, with the accompanying story waxing for days about its brilliance, but I didn’t consider The Wall in it’s entirety until the early 90s.

    I was working construction for my father’s company at the time, and there was always a boom box or car stereo in the truck, or something on which I could pop a home-made cassette (recorded from the double CD I had at home), and I listened to it on repeat endlessly for like a year and a half.

    There’s a track or two I don’t really care for here (“Bring the Boys Back Home” comes to mind), but they’re all an important part of the whole. Every minute of this album is an important part of the story – another brick in the wall that must eventually fall.

    The Wall is less accessible than a lot of the Floyd’s other work, but it is worth every minute of the time you put into it, listening to and dissecting the music as well as the lyrics, the framework, the story. It is as close to an autobiography in concept album form as we’re ever likely to see, and it’s bold, raw, and brave, and a drawn out, drug-induced therapy session for a staggeringly broken man who finally finds the path to his own recovery.

    And with all that, it STILL managed to sell over 30 million copies.

    It’s over 80 minutes long, so I’m sorry about doing that again, but it is well worth your time, for the story, the brilliant writing of Roger Waters, the fiery playing of David Gilmour, and just… Everything. What an album!

    Zach Schreiber

    Campfire Attention Holder
    My favorite album ever. Learned so much musically and conceptually from it. A true masterpiece of a record. Gilmour does so many simple but effective lines that I always try to remind myself of when I over complicate a piece I’m writing. “Don’t Leave Me Now” and “Waiting For the Worms” are two that come to mind. Great pick!


    Local Dive Bar Favorite
  • Nov 15, 2019
    Ed Seith understands the finer things in the universe.

    For me, “The Wall” speaks on evolutionary brilliance, where there isn’t just meaning lyrical wise, but also from a composer POV. And you can’t talk about The Wall without talking about possibly the most influential song on the album. When I first heard comfortably numb, it was only the beginning and I initially skipped it, not understanding the abstract and highly expressive meaning encompassed throughout the whole song (a mistake that is because of my younger years and ignorance of musical significance so please be gentle :). I believe it is based on the idea of a character Pink, who is given drugs in order to help his performances, an idea based on several performers who would take drugs for stomach cramps before a show. The spacey feeling of the reverb personifies the drugs, as major influences push farther and farther away. All that put aside, what truly captivated me was the solos. I noticed that the solos were derived from the D/Bm blues scale, which is one scale I use a LOT literally just because of how much I love these solos.
    I love talking about super influential guitarists, David Gilmore is the ENTIRE reason that I began to have interest in crafting expressive solos and the crazy thing is just today I watched the live version played by Mr. Gilmore himself on YouTube. I got most of my understanding of the song from 12tone’s detailed look into Comfortably Numb, which I really suggest you guys watch, it’s great to truly see the musical genius behind the song’s creators.
    I can’t fathom how much this song means to me now, and it is important for all aspiring musicians to truly take a look at the greats rather than attaching themselves to just new artists, a mistake that set me back for a long time in truly understanding guitar. What a great thread!

    William B.

    Hot Topic Tourer
  • Nov 11, 2019
    I've only heard a few songs before and this morning about the first 30 minutes of the album.
    The back story is nice, knowing that it's a concept album helps me understand it more than I would have on my own.
    Right away for some reason I was thinking about My Chemical Romance, also I think I heard some skit type tracks between songs, maybe that's what helps connect the stories.
    Gonna try to listen to it tomorrow again, having a hard time listening last couple weeks, even people, stuff on my mind.
    Also am happy with how my last attempts at tracks are going, a bit stuck on that as well.
    I'll try to read up on some of the lyrics too.
    When I think of the phrase Blues Rock, I imagine something like holding onto sadness or rocking sadness back n forth, holding onto it.
    I like Vans and met my friends at The Wall, it's what we called it XD

    Thanks Ed!

    Alicia Willis

  • Nov 11, 2019
    Lexington, South Carolina
    Oh man what a treat ! This is honestly an album I’ve not listened to in YEARS !
    I heard it ALL the time growing up. My father was a simple man in which he only had a handful of bands he listened to and he rarely got excited about music but Pink Floyd was/is one of his bands ! He always hated another brick in the wall though which I always found funny as it was the biggest hit from the album.
    I remember “mother” and “is there anybody out there” being his most played songs.
    I asked him once though, why do you love “is there anybody out there so much because there’s hardly any vocals and it’s so short ” and his response was, “that’s exactly why I like it”. He never elaborated much on it. He’s a man who loves his silence and peace but does like to get lost in certain music and sounds and for him a lack of vocals did that. My dad is also a big 🍃 head sooooo take from that what you will lol.
    As I’ve gotten older though I get it and that song helped build my love of instrumental pieces. When the music speaks to your soul you needn’t much lyrical context to feel something, even if it’s a short piece and that acoustic melody speaks to me even after all of these years. I only wish it was longer.
    That melody was ingrained in my head, dad would listen to it over and over again just for that part.

    Christian Schulze

    Hot Topic Tourer
    Rockstar Student
    Nov 11, 2019
    Pink floyd is on my list to listen to the entire discography. Of course I heard the classic pink floyds songs and several of the Wall as well. I am enamored with the concept of the wall. The idea of wanting to physically build a wall between Waters and the audience during live shows always intrigued me. I mean who comes up with stuff like that anymore?!!!

    Like Alicia, i also have a lot of memories of my dad citing Pink floyd as one of his favourites and listening to a song or two during Car rides with him. I used to be very very very immature with my music taste (like only liking top 40 stuff until the age of 10....were I fell in love....Metal), which is why I never understood my dads love for the band. But boy do I do now!

    Thank you Ed for the recommendation!!!!
    Synner Endless Summer Collection

    Andrew Milner

    Campfire Attention Holder
  • Nov 11, 2019
    Had a good friend in high-school who is a major Pink Floyd fan and then another beer, I mean, college mate who is also a fan. My parents and sister also listened to Pink Floyd a lot. Safe to say all of this got me hooked to the band. Not as a regular playlist one, but anytime I want to unwind or just listen to something awesome, they're an easy pick. Never could get my writing at their levels but maybe one day...

    Jamie London

    Staff member
  • Nov 11, 2019
    Killer choice captain! Personally my favorite era of Floyd was with Syd (“Piper at the Gates of Dawn” is pure psych goodness) but “The Wall” is such a seminal work. It’s one of those albums that, while a bit on the longer side, really needs to be listened to from front to back to truly appreciated imo. But of course it has its stand out and more well known tracks. My mom is the biggest Floyd fan I know, so they’re been around me literally since the beginning of my life 😂 Funny enough, I’ve been jamming “Comfortably Numb”’for the last two weeks pretty much on repeat. Unreal stuff!