Living with…Pink Floyd’s The Wall…for a week

Mine’s an Americano

By the standards of bands that need help with reconciliation I felt a few weeks back that the Fugees and Lauryn Hill  took some beating. ”Before I work with Lauryn Hill again, you will have a better chance of seeing Osama Bin Laden and George W Bush in Starbucks having a latte, discussing foreign policies.”

But then I’d forgotten Pink Floyd – increase the odds by expecting Bin Laden to walk in to Starbucks and say “Mine’s an Americano” and you’d still have got better odds than on a Pink Floyd reunion.  After all this is the band that parked their Winnebagos facing away from each other on tour and parted with the maximum of acrimony.

But I’m a strong believer in miracles, and sure enough last Thursday night the world for rock fans of a certain age took quite a shaking.  A 65 year old man called David appeared at the top of a rather large wall in the O2 Arena and delivered the two immortal guitar solos that comprise his contribution to the Pink Floyd classic, Comfortably Numb.

The miracle was that Roger Waters was at the bottom of the wall, singing and David Gilmour was at the top on the same stage.  They were still quite a long way apart, but on the same stage…so it was a start.

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When Grown Men Cry

Apparently last Thursday night, grown men cried “acting like teen aged girls at a Twilight premiere”.  Shirts were ripped off.  Men stood dewy eyed staring in to a distance that only they could see.  It was clearly a religious experience.  I’m not a massive Floyd fan but I understand.  These are the moments when grown men cry.

A few weeks back I caught up with a friend who has just retired.  For his retirement ‘treat’ he’d booked himself on a two week jaunt to Australia with the barmy army for the last two test matches of the last Ashes series – just himself.  An excuse to be an unchecked out and out cricket geek.  I was jealous before he went but then with events as they unfolded I just wanted to know how it felt.  “At the moment when we knew we’d won at Melbourne, grown men just cried.”  Not the Australians, but the English barmy army.  I’m not a massive cricket fan but I understand.

Then there are the imaginery moments, many verging on the miraculous, when we know that we would cry.  England winning the World Cup for a second time (verging on the miraculous); bringing home an Olympic Gold against all odds.  And for me a particularly niche moment would be beating Crystal Palace 3-1 on 26th December 2011 at the Amex Stadium, the last goal scored in the very satisfying 92nd minute.  Catching them on the break while they’re pressing for an equaliser.  I’d fully understand that.

And then there’s that scene from Up.  If you’ve seen the film you know the moment – when the evil Pixar emotionally mug the adults ten minutes in with no warning.  You’ve innocently taken a group of children to watch a film supposedly about a grumpy old man with a lot of brightly coloured balloons and then they mug you.  Coffee in one hand, munching away through a packet of something that’s like Revells but isn’t and then WHAM.  Emotional male overload.  Pure evil.

Pink Floyd’s The Wall

It’ll be over 20 years since I last listened to The Wall from end to end, and with the hype of last week’s ‘reunion’ I decided to give it a spin again – except I didn’t have a turntable.  So I sort of bypassed CD technology altogether moving from vinyl to digital in one fell swoop.

It’s always been a work of genius, albeit one that’s self indulgent at times and not necessarily comfortable listening.  If like me, it’s been a while here’s a brief reminder of the plot:

Pink’s father dies.

Pink doesn’t get on with his mother or teachers.

He doesn’t get on with his wife.

He doesn’t get on with anyone.

He watches a lot of television and sings depressing songs.

He becomes a bit of a fascist.

In the end, he has to face up to it all.  Or does he?

Or in three words

Pink loses it.

The opening side to The Wall (you’ll excuse reference back to vinyl days) is sheer brilliance – brooding and then bursting in to exquisite guitar riffs and solos.  You’re gripped by this dark character Pink who rages against everyone, one by one.  It ends with Another Brick in the Wall which I once had exploded by brilliant Swiss Logic.  A relative said to me

“We don’t need no education.  That is a double negative, yes?”

“Yes”

“Therefore he means that we do need education, which is good.”

“Uhmmmm…yes , but no….”  I think I exploded in a puff of logic as I didn’t have no explanation.

I’m sure that Young Lust is the song that Dave Gilmour secretly wanted to play all along as it allowed him to be the out and out rock guitarist, and to chorus “Oooh, I want a dirty woman…” not somewhere that Pink Floyd’s material had gone before.

Hey You, Comfortably Numb the great tracks continue through side three.  But the highlight for me is definitely the unfolding drama at the end peaking with The Trial, the madness of Pink, “Crazy, toys in the attic, I am crazy”, the Yorkshire mum and then that horrendous judge.  Am I alone in thinking through my teen years that’s how all judges sounded?  Quite disappointing when you hear the reality…

The Wall is far from being my favourite Pink Floyd album, but it seemed appropriate this week and it is an incredibly powerful journey.  However, I reserve the right to one more week of Floyd another time, when I fully anticipate I’ll be going to the Dark Side…

Twotes of the Week

A Mexican called Pink waits on The Wall for a Pink Floyd reunion…you may be some time amigo #no81bobsworld

@MrsStephenFry: I can’t believe Karen’s still in the #apprentice after her performance in this week’s keeping a football club in the premier league task.

@godivafestival: Mark 1-3 July in your diaries for Godiva Festival 2011. UK’s biggest, free three day family event!http://ow.ly/4WyL7

@themiltonjones For my birthday my Mum got me one of those wind up radios – well she said she was going to get me one…

 @sixthformpoet: Today I’m godfather to my niece. To encourage her to choose the right path in life, my gifts include a West Wing DVD and a Twitter account.

Glee Watch: A whole programme dedicated to another great battlefield of an album, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.  Some songs nearly there’s and some misses.  Needless to say no one got anywhere near Stevie Nicks magic.

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