Pink Floyd: The Original Punks


I know.  Who would’ve thunk it?  Me, of course!

We had the pleasure of going to see Roger Waters on his Wall tour this past weekend in Chicago.  Awesome does not even begin to describe the entire thing.

For a generation of us X’ers, this album helped to define us.  For those of you not familiar with the Wall, let me introduce you to the messed up mind of Roger Waters.  This is an album of lost hope, coping with excess, and trying to find your place in a world that seems to be completely careening out of control. 

The undertones are endless.  It asks all of the important questions that we should all be asking of ourselves and our world.  Should we blindly follow a government or leader? Should the powers that be dictate to us what we wear, what we eat, what we do, what we think?  Why is excess so excessive?  How do you move on?  What is the best way to protect yourself and still stay sane?

These are all important questions that we should examine.  Roger is and always will be a wonderful commentator on social well-being.  The messages embedded in the Wall are timeless and it seems as if they have never been more relevant than they are today.

People of my generation have seen the world change in a much more massive amount in a much shorter period of time than other generations.  If you had told me when I was in high school that I would be carrying a phone around with me in my pocket all the time, using a bank card to pay for everything in my life, or using a computer every single day to accomplish everything in my life, I would have laughed at you and called you crazy.  It’s absolutely surreal that we live in this futuristic, practically Star Trek universe. 

We could only walk away from this world with the  moniker “I survived”.  The changes that I have seen are absolutely unbelievable.  When interacting with the Wall, the first question that we really ask ourselves is: How do you protect yourself and still let people in?  this is the never ending question of people on the spectrum sometimes.  It’s very difficult for us to let people in to begin with and even more difficult for us to guess who can be trusted and who cannot.

I know, you want to know why Pink Floyd were the original punks.  Let’s think about the message that is obvious.  The Wall.  The big picture idea is that the Wall is similar in message to the Berlin Wall.  The Berlin Wall only stood for a little under 30 years, and yet the things it represented were so much more.  The things it repressed were even more astounding.  Think of the idea of the government dictating every little thing that you do and even telling you how you can think.  Think of being barricaded in to supposedly keep the evil out, but suspecting that the evil you are keeping out is actually on your side of the wall.  Think of the alienation that this mentality causes. 

Is the Wall a protest.  I think so, most definitely.  It protests every form of government that we encounter in our lives.  It begins with our parents and the doctrines we were raised by.  Then we are moved into schools where teachers and administrators tell us how to dress, how to eat, how to learn, and how to think.  They dictate what we write and how we do it.  Then we move in with a spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend, etc. and start having to live by someone else’s rules and learning to behave in ways that are socially appropriate for them. Then you have a job inwhich everything is again dictated to you while sitting in a little cube plugged into a little machine.

Wow, that is some pretty big picture stuff that is very scary!  All of these issues are tackled in the Wall.  Along with coping with those issues.  You can’t help but wonder, does Pink feel as if everything in his life is a prison?  By the time he breaks out from under the Wall, you are villified and excited.  You feel as free as he does.  Pink addresses all of our feelings.  In the worst possible way, we realise that we are all “prisoners of our device”.  We are empathetic with Pink, though.  He is not solely responsible for life turning out the way it does.  Other people are just as much to blame for his wall building as he is.  However, Pink is “hanging on in quiet desperation” because that “is the English way”.  He shoulders the entire blame and almost kills himself in excess trying to make it all disappear.

Pink builds the wall because it is what he is taught to do and told to do.  He believes that this is how one protects himself from being hurt.  He is taught this by his mother, who obviously was not the spokeswoman for happily ever after.  He becomes a rockstar to get away.  Although, in the movie there are only allusions to Pink’s rockstar status.  Such as the girl he takes back to his hotel room and she asks “are all of these your guitars?”  To Pink, though, being a rockstar is equivalent to some fascist dictatorial leader.  He feels that he has the ability to tell his fans what to do.  And seemingly, he does.  Pink goes to his own show not as himself, but as a “surrogate band”.  He proceeds to point out the faults of his audience and starts to pit them against each other based on arbitrary traits.

Still, we find that Pink is the same scared little boy trying to wrestle with big picture issues that he is in no way equipped to handle.  When he is put on trial for “the way you made them suffer, your exquisite wife and mother”, we realise that Pink is not now and probably never has been in control of his own destiny.  He makes experimental forays into the world without a wall, but becomes frightened and retreats.  Better the devil you know, so to speak.  His entire life is just a reaction to everything around him without the attempts at interaction that we need as human beings in general.

This is the part where I rant and rave about the stupendousnous of the show and how wonderful it was.  We could never see another concert and feel as if we had gotten our money’s worth from it!  It was a show and a spectacle.  Roger himself tooled around the arena dressed like a bum complete with shopping cart and fairly inflammotory sign.  There were giant puppets. There was, of course, a giant pig with every icon of opulence and excess that you can think of.  Yes, I think that if I never saw another concert, I am grateful that this was the last one I saw!

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