The influence of the album "The Wall" on globalisation

by M. Gauss, 2017
Introduction

Pink Floyd is a British progressive and psychedelic rock band formed in 1965 in London. Another Brick in the Wall is composed of three songs of the band, they are composed by Roger Waters who is bassist, auto-composer and one of the founding members. All three are in the album The Wall and are subtitled respectively part 1, part 2 and part3.  The second part was released in 1979 as the other two, but the video only became the official clip of part 2 after the film The Wall was released by director Parker in 1982. 

Story of the album

The album evokes the destiny of an anti-hero, Pink, whose life is almost similar to that of Roger Waters: like him, the Pink young person loses his father with the war, he feels tyrannized by his professors eager to insert it in a “mould” (from where the recurring image of the meat-mincer of Another Brick in the Wall), her mother is super-protective ("Mother") and finally, like Toilets, Pink becomes member of a rock group. But very quickly, the illusions of the star system reject it. He gets married, but moves away more and more from his wife, who ends up misleading it ("Don't Leave Me Now"). Pink is withdrawn then in his universe by building an imaginary wall, representing his emotional distance, in order to protect himself from the outside  world: each trauma which he undergoes is a brick moreover in his  wall. The idea of this album came to Roger Waters following an incident at the time of a concert in  Montreal: the “leader” spits on a doped fan who howled and pushed the spectators. Upon his return to the studio, Toilets has the idea to literally build a wall between the group and the public, which would protect it from a new similar incident. The Wall becomes a concept in three times: an album, a series of theatrical concerts, and a feature film. Like the three previous albums of the group (The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and Animals), The Wall is an album-concept, but also a rock opera: it treats topic of insulation and its mental consequences.

Cultural demands placed on musicians

Roger Waters has been particularly expressive in composing a song for Pink Floyd in which he expressed clearly his political beliefs which are definitely
explosive. This comes from the fact that he had been educated in boarding schools in England where he felt constantly persecuted that’s what inspired him to write part 2 of The Wall’s three-part suite “Another Brick in the Wall”. 

“Another Brick in the Wall Part 2” was the most successful song of Pink Floyd because it sold at more than 4 million copies and was the only top single of the band history. Their song became so popular all over the world as a protest song in countries where there were people fighting against an oppressive government and also an authoritarian educational system. That’s what justifies their refrain : “We don’t need no education! We don’t need no thought control!” which was repeated particularly by protesters who lived under the regime of apartheid in South Africa because Water, the composer of the song, was familiar with this type of situation particularly during his school days experience with certain teachers that were not so pleasant.  The idea of “No thought control” became the leitmotif of student groups in South Africa who made that song popular and number 1 on the 100 hit parade chart all over the country for several weeks. “Another brick in the Wall 2” was used by students all over South Africa as their protest song against the discriminatory school system in their country and for their struggle towards a democratic regime. The government tried to control the various student revolutionary movements by forbidding some material they considered harmful to their ideas and Pink Floyd’s song “Another brick in the Wall 2” was banned on May 6th, 1980 because it was said to be politically and morally undesirable to the values of the country.  “Another brick in the Wall 2” at first was intended to send a message to certain teachers who did not treat their students correctly. They were too oppressive and unfair towards certain students and Waters was one of those students who had suffered from this unfair behavior. However, his song became so successful amongst the students of South Africa who were suffering from an oppressive regime of apartheid that Water’s song became meaningful to them and they used it as their protest symbol against the oppressive educational system and the unjust political system of apartheid as well. When Waters says : “We don’t need no education” , he did not mean to band education but rather that the students didn’t want the kind of oppressive education they were given. The lyrics combined with the music of the song were so appropriate for the circumstances that it had a nationwide impact and became the most popular protest song throughout South Africa. Despite the fact that Water’s song had been banned by the government authorities in 1980, the influence and the spirit of the song had already conquered the minds of all the student population and of the whole country who wanted to be left alone as much as the students. 

Influence of the social environment and political legislation on music production

Pink Floyd is the biggest band of all times and their album « The Wall » deserves to be rated as the most creative and amazing musical piece of work ever composed in the history of rock music. It has been a real success since its release and has been as much successful as the film. This phenomena is such that it has been called a “concept album”. 

This creation is the story of the life of his creator as a lad during the Second World War. The protagonist lived a difficult childhood as he lost his father during the Second World War and was raised by a mother who was over protective because she cared a lot for him and at the same time she transferred her emotional instability unto him. Pink Floyd wanted to avoid this unstable emotional situation therefore he tried to build a psychological wall between himself and his environment so he could stay away from all kinds of emotional problems. He wanted to live in an emotion free world away from his mother’s phobias , his school’s oppressive system and the complications of a star life. He purposely isolated himself every time using another brick for each problem he confronted and finally build a psychological wall around himself. “The Wall” is a brilliant piece of art for it expresses all the state of mind of his author who lived in a tormented world which he portrayed in his work. His struggle with freedom and personal responsibility made his life so complex that he became somehow cynical and viewed life as superficial . 

The complexity of Floyd’s life made “The Wall” an extraordinary piece of musical creation because of his heroic author’s attitude towards life and death and his experience confronting the reality of war within this painful period in Europe . It is the sum of reality and imagination combined to reveal the story of the author’s life.  The song was released in 1979, that is to say, before the fall of the Berlin Wall, as it denounces all the systems enclosing individuals. This song was caught up by the news and associated with the fall of the wall in 1989. At the base, the song discusses the rigidity of the rules in English schools in the 1950s. 

This song is part of the megalomaniac and tormented concept double album, The Wall. The Wall is the story of a rock star, Pink, in the midst of depression, having no more feelings and having built a real psychological wall that isolates him from his family and the rest of the world. He then metamorphoses himself into a fascist leader, as it is true that being a rock star is part of the manipulation of the crowds ... This album will be adapted in a film. The three songs another brick in the wall shows the psychological "construction of this wall ». This song , in this album which came out after the war, denounces all the totalitarian regimes, all the walls, all which prevents freedom. 

This song was adapted to the cinema by Parker in 1982 , and at the fall of the wall of Berlin in 1989 it was associated with this event. It can also be associated with other songs from other bands celebrating the fall of the Wall as Scorpions with Wind of Change. Or later also Pink Floyd releases A great day for freedom in 2002 which is in the same genre. 

One can also associate it with a painting that is on the remains of the Berlin Wall. There are still many walls to destroy from Raik Honermman and Ines Bayer because it refers to all walls depriving of freedom. 

Structure and development of technology

This song is of a progressive rock style, that is to say a kind of rock that appeared in the late 1960s in Great Britain. Drawing on a multiplicity of genres including jazz, blues and classical music, it is particularly elaborate at the level of instrumental technique, composition, texts. It is also distinguished by the length of its tracks, the promotion of the concept album and the more or less important desire to move away from the commercial circuit and its formatting. 

The speakers are, children who form the choir, an older man who shouts at times and a rock band with drums, bass, guitar and so on, and a singer. The tempo of this song is moderato allegro. The musical accompaniment is during the whole song even during the choir of child. 

At first you hear the sound of a train, it could show that at that time everyone had to follow the same voice. Then we hear a man shouting: you, yes you, it's a teacher who shouted at a student, I think it's from the movie. After the music starts, a class bell sounds and the first verse begins with a soloist. We see teachers as soon as the bell comes out all as if they were settled like machines. Then it stops. You hear the teacher ridiculing the class in front 

of neveryone, the students laugh, the teacher ridicules him because he writes poems and a poet is a person who escapes by his writings as politically engaged poets did during the second world War. Then the soloist who had stopped during the teacher's intervention about the student's poems picks up again , with a scene between the teacher and his wife, then we see him whipping a child probably a student who shows that if the students are not like the teachers wanted they were severely punished in the 60s in England. Then comes a kind of military march by the students, always with the soloist singing. We see students walking behind each other with a mask, they are condemned to follow a path drawn to the slaughterhouse (the chopper). The pupils have no individuality and all have the same physiognomy (masks). They seem to wander in industrial premises (clock, lighting) and be only raw materials. The discipline appears in the cadenced pace of the students. A military march follows a chorus with the same words and then sing what could be the chorus of the song. 

At the end of the choir, the students break the psychological wall, they revolt and remove their masks; in the clip we see them breaking the walls of the school and all broken, they revolt against the rigidity of the rules in the English school in 1950 especially the boarding schools. Then to understand by the pictures that it was Pink, the student having made himself ridiculed for his poems and being the subject of this album and the film that dreamed of a school where we were free to think what we wanted and choose our voice.  All the images in the clip are taken from the film, which is why it only became the official music video of the song in 1982 after the release of the film when the song was 1979. 

Through the lyrics of the title, Another Brick In the Wall Part 2, Rogers Waters criticizes the rules and disciplinary sanctions (corporal punishment and blame) applied by college professors in the 1950s, particularly in the United Kingdom. This dissatisfaction is manifested by negative sentences such as "We don’t need no education" or "No dark sarcasm in the classroom" to challenge this rigor. Then, the phrase "hey teacher ..." is a cry of revolt that aspires to a change in learning conditions at school.  

Current business directions

Throughout the Seventies, Pink Floyd was the preferred group of  math students,  big sisters baba cool and  salesmen of hi-fi systems. Since the beginning of the eighties, it resembles  a board of directors whose  members hate themselves  but made it works to  preserve the financial interest of the common shop. Since always, is Pink Floyd especially the friend of the accountants, which come very close to each time the orgasm by hearing the spectacular litany of the numbers of only The Dark Side of the Moon: 45 million albums sold on ground from its exit in 1973, fourteen years of nonstop presence in the US charts. In short, this group does not cause from the start a real desire and one understands those who detest it or scorn it without having  really attended it only by far and through the inevitably reducing sieve of the transistors. 

The band Pink Floyd has still an audience and a big fans community, mostly older people but also young people.  Here, to recall that Floyd is not by far the inventor of multidisciplinary shows where music, video, lights and theatrical scenography intertwine. The obvious proof which shows that Pink Floyd is always very present in the spirits of people and on the market, the worthy London institution, the Victoria and Albert Museum has just presented a retrospective exhibition devoted to the “Floyd's”. Roger Waters and his guys are observed today like pop legends. They sold 2,650,000 of their last album which shows also a world-wide sharp continuous success.  

Opportunities offered in a global market looking both advantages and disadvantages

They tried and invented in the past new sound textures and have tried new sounds out shows striking multimedia, they were technologically advanced. Nowadays, their music will be probably too specific and "old" for the music industry. Relating to the technology, today they would have brought nothing new. They used synthesizers and consoles of mixing, they constantly tried to work out the sound during their three decades of existence. They tried out techniques and musical forms at least as decisive as those explored by The Beatles period Revolver and Pepper Sergeant.
 
After having taken down the moon with The Dark Side of The Moon, in 1973, Roger Waters takes over command of the ship, but loses himself finally in megalomania and the paranoiac trend with The Wall -1979-. Left with crash, in 1985, Toilets leaves the bar of Floyd with David Gilmour. The two men will not speak to each other anymore during years. But the Pink Floyd brand resisted the fights of ego, time and even the punk detergent. In 1976, Johnny Rotten, the leader of Sex Pistols, carried in standard a t-shirt “I hate Pink Floyd”, hoping well to put “pretentious” the quartet at retirement. In vain.  Even if Pink Floyd did not publish an album studio since 1994, the fine word is still not written. The recent meeting again of the group on the scene of O2 Arena of London, on May 12th, 2011, feed even the rumours of reformation. Johnny Rotten,, since, revised his judgement. In 2010, he confesses: “You must be stupid to say that you do not like Pink Floyd.” The voice of wisdom. Because it always was avant-garde. The Piper At the spoil of dawn in 1965, the Soviets offer to Alexeï Leonov the first exit of a man in space. At the same moment, Syd Barrett founds Pink Floyd and sends a rock group in cosmos. As of its beginnings, Pink Floyd looks like a pionnier. In December 1966, it inaugurates the UFO Club, the psychedelic club of London. Whooping-cough of Swinging London, it tries out the sound in quadraphony, the long improvisations and the games of daring light. Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townshend of Who or Paul McCartney took  of them full the ear holes and the mince-pies. Use of synthetizers very last thing, album-concepts, pieces twenty-five minute old, the group is always to the forefront of technology. In the large company of the rock'n'roll, Pink Floyd occupies the branch research and development. A sometimes, ridiculous search.  “After The Dark Side of the Moon, we did not know any more where to go, entrusts the beater Nick Mason, met in London, in June 2011, in the studios of Abbey Road. We reactivated our project “Household Objects”, which consisted in manufacturing music with objects of the daily newspaper. In studio, we cut wood with an axe to create percussions. We spent an insane time granting wine glasses. We produced the low ones with adhesive tapes. What an incredible waste of time! We would have better done to set out again in round.” The more so as, on the road, Pink Floyd invents the big shows. Their scenography integrating images, music and texts will inspire as well Guy Laliberté, the founder of Cirque du Soleil, then the rock' roll circus of U2.  We can say that  Pink Floyd incredibly influenced and changed the world of  music.
   

The globalization of  music is rather paradoxical. It allows the multiplication of cultural exchanges, which means the possibility for the public of being able to listen to more different musics and for the musicians to have more people  listen to their music , which means  a larger audience. In the same way, on the level of live performances, globalization supports the circulation of  artists at a planetary level. But it does not have only advantages. The Western cultural model, and primarily Anglo-Saxon for the music, tends to exert a world domination. It there  a risk then  of standardization, especially as this model gives a priority to the economic aspect over the cultural one, which means that it searches profitability more than artistic quality. With this increasing uniformation, they are all the values associated with the diversity and the pluralism which are threatened of disappearance. One of the principal dangers of globalization is thus the standardization of the cultural products, which is likely to lead to a cultural levelling. 

Conclusion

As I progressed through my researches, I discovered and became deeply aware of the important impact that this album had at the particular period it was released because of the highly politically engaged songs it contained. Its author’s fight against all kind of extremism, like capitalism, communism, fascism, represented a clear wave of revolutionary reactions against such systems and a striking promotion of freedom. In my opinion, Pink Floyd stands for the most important universal revolutionary symbol and their music is an incredible and outstanding example of technological progress. Pink Floyd influenced the world of music and contributed to globalisation. 

References 

Mason, N. (2017). Inside out: A personal history of Pink Floyd. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.

Broackes, V. / Landreth Strong, A. (2017). Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains. London: V&A Publishing.

Fielder, H. (2013). Pink Floyd: Behind the Wall. New York: RacePoint Publishing.  

Dolloff, M. (2014). How Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall” became an international protest anthem. 
Available: http://wzlx.radio.com/2014/05/06/how-pink-floyds-another-brick-in-the-wall-became-an-international-protest-anthem/. 

Urick, B. (2016). Pink Floyd "The Wall": A complete analysis. 
Available: http://www.thewallanalysis.ch.

MJD. (2017). CSPC: Pink Floyd Popularity Analysis. 
Available: http://chartmasters.org/2017/06/cspc-pink-floyd-popularity-analysis/19/.

Brun-Lambert, D. (2017). Pink Floyd s’expose en démesure.  
Available: https://www.letemps.ch/culture/2017/07/24/pink-floyd-sexpose-demesure.  

Conte, C. (2011). Pink Floyd: 40 ans de bouleversements de l'histoire du rock. Available: http://www.lesinrocks.com/2011/10/24/musique/pink-floyd-40-ans-de-bouleversements-de-lhistoire-du-rock-117835/

Bordier, J..(2011). Pink Floyd, le trip continue. L'Express. Available: https://www.lexpress.fr/culture/musique/pink-floyd-le-trip-continue_1034049.html.

Thollot, E.. (2003). Les musiques du monde et la diversitl culturelle face à la mondialisation . Available: https://www.fedelima.org/IMG/pdf/memoire2003dess_elisabeth_thollot.pdf.

 

 

Back to blog