Pink Floyd's 'The Wall:' Stories You Didn't Know About The Iconic Album

By | February 5, 2020

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Pink Floyd perform on stage at Earls Court Arena on 'The Wall' tour, on August 7th, 1980 in London, England. (Photo by Pete Still/Redferns)

Pink Floyd's The Wall is a concept album that sprawls across the four sides of two LPs, telling a story of sadness and alienation. The fact is, it's bleak, it is a total downer -- yet it is a masterpiece and endlessly re-listenable because it taps into those very bleak feelings we all have. Pink Floyd’s seminal concept album is one of the first, if not the first, record where an artist openly discusses their distaste for their fans, for their band, and for themselves. Every song on the album was meticulously crafted by the group under strenuous circumstances. There was in-fighting, tax evasion, and a lack of desire to continue being Pink Floyd. But if Roger Waters and David Gilmour stopped working together under the name they would have to deal with their massive debt.

It’s an understatement to say that the record is amazing. It floats through different genres, plays with the band’s past and shows where the band would venture in the ensuing decades. The 1980 tour that followed the release of the album is just as stunning as the record. The band took a physical wall with them and built it between themselves in the audience, but the real wall was between the band members. The Wall cemented Pink Floyd as a force in rock music, but it’s also one of the major sticking points in the breakup of Roger Waters and David Gilmour.

The main character is based on Roger Waters and Syd Barrett

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source: Morrison Hotel

The Wall follows a depressed and disaffected rock star named Pink as he looks back at his life and everything that lead to the construction of the metaphorical wall between himself and the world around him. The idea came to Roger Waters while Pink Floyd toured in support of their 1977 album Animals. He later explained that the shows had become less about music and more of an event:

I disliked it intensely because it became a social event rather than a more controlled and ordinary relationship between musicians and an audience... The front sixty rows seemed to be screaming and shouting and rocking and swaying and not really listening to anything. And those further back could see bugger-all anyway.

After the final show of the tour Waters discussed his alienation from the audience and his band members by saying that he wished he could build a wall between the audience and the performers. In that way Waters based Pink on himself, but he drew from his experiences with former member Syd Barrett who left the group after a severe mental breakdown. Many of the songs that Waters wrote in the pre-production stage reference Barrett, especially “Nobody Home,” a song that details the band’s tour of the US in 1967 where Barrett’s depression worsened and he distanced himself from the band.