The Wall holds humorous message from Pink Floyd
One of the typical English rock bands that formed in the 1960’s was Pink Floyd. Their sound was defined as psychedelic. This style hooked a generation turning to drugs for an “experience.” Although most of the band members did not use and abuse substances, their music influenced an entire drug culture. Despite this fact, they left a message in their music.
The original members of Pink Floyd were:
- Syd Barrett – guitar and vocals
- Bob Klose – Guitar and vocals
- Richard Wright – Keyboard and vocals
- Roger Waters – Bass and vocals
- Nick Mason – Drums and percussion
Three years after the band had formed David Gilmore joined as a guitarist and also to sing. The band’s original leader, Barrett was an artist at heart. His earliest and dearest intentions were for the band to become an expression of his art. Pink Floyd incorporated into their performances lights, lasers, and more visual effects to enhance the concerts. Stage shows depicting crashing airplanes, flaming gongs from circular projection screens complimented their music.
There seemed to be a great deal of competition and strife among the members of the group
Roger Waters asserted his demeanor with intent to be the leader. However, he wasn’t alone in his talent within the band. David Gilmour belted out deep ethereal vocals and jammed unique guitar riffs.
In the 70’s as Pink Floyd gained more popularity and slowly made their way to America, rumors began circulating. Accusations of secret messages hidden within music and on album covers. There was great concern over playing records backward to hear hidden messages. Christians and conservatives had a field day trying to shut down the monster that was rock and roll music. Their excuse was to blame it all on Satan.
In response, Nick Mason decided to put a message in their album, The Wall intentionally. It was so expected at the time. Bands such as Judas Priest had been accused of subliminally suggesting suicide.
When one did occur, the media all pointed fingers at the music monster
Mason mocks the trend saying the accusations were complete nonsense. However, when playing The Wall in reverse, you might hear “Congratulations. You have just discovered the secret message.”
Pink Floyd didn’t take the hype and public hysteria seriously. Besides The Wall was on the top of music charts for more than eighteen weeks even with the subliminal message.
The band continued to produce albums until friction leading to a legal battle split the group. They had never been completely cohesive. Roger Waters continually attempted to lead control, steal credit and reap monetary gain. He is the only member of the band to this day who is not in communication with the originals.
Barrett died from Pancreatic Cancer in 2006 and Wright died in 2008. Pink Floyd is officially old news. Mason and Gilmore both acknowledge the work and production of the band. They appreciate it for what it was and is. A time of their lives they do not wish to repeat.
A time of their lives they do not wish to repeat
The concept of backmasking was a technique with which the Beatles experimented. John Lennon listened to a track from the Revolver album, then played it back in reverse. He liked the sound, so the playback was decidedly included in the album. Later a DJ entertained a rumor that Beatle Paul McCartney had died. The caller identified the source of the lie came from playing Revolution backward.
The same DJ went on to show many other songs that contained hidden messages. Soon Christian groups pounced on the bandwagon arguing against rock stars claiming they all worked for Satan. Record burnings were then encouraged by the church. A music ban was preached, and the watchful eye of big brother tried to maintain the hysteria for as long as possible.
With the invention of computers, compact discs, and music editing technology, the controversy died
Other artists who have been accused of backmasking are:
- Led Zeppelin
- Electric Light Orchestra
- The Eagles
- The Rolling Stones
- Jefferson Starship
- Def Leppard
- Ozzy Osborne
Nevertheless, Pink Floyd was the first band to poke fun of the backward message scandal. They had a way of doing that. Their beginnings were psychedelic and caught up with a revolution. Certainly, their style was different. Barrett had a way with words. Lyrics flowed out of him like waves of water. An almost cathartic expulsion of the idea, words, and poetry. He had a creative and spiritual yearning to express himself.
Music was his venue, and all the other members of Pink Floyd helped Barrett access this flow. With complex guitar collectives from David Gilmore and Roger Waters, the band knew their music wasn’t the best sound. Waters at one point expressed how sad it was that the music was so loud and awful that it drowned out the sound of Barrett’s incredible lyrics. Pink Floyd was influenced and contemporaries to other great bands at the time, like the Rolling Stones.
What was different about Pink Floyd was Barrett’s creative lyrics
Also the visual show he set up would put them in place all their own. Visual light shows by Pink Floyd became their signature.
With the release of The Wall, new grounds were broken in the United States as the album climbed the charts. However, in Britain, there was a ban of the album. Not only had the backmasking created a bad name, but also making fun of the educational system from England was taboo and the BBC choose to punish the group by ostracizing them. Meanwhile, the American market blew their popularity sky high. Pink Floyd grossed over $200 million in sales, and everyone wanted to trip to the music from The Wall.
It became a culture all its own
Most of the lyrics on the album were written by Waters. His recollection of a depressing childhood and all the suffering he exploited. He considered this his baby, his debut. Barrett by this time was not active enough with Pink Floyd to take much credit.
David Gilmour contributed beautiful guitar jams and melodies that caught the songs and kept listeners attentive. Most of the music by Pink Floyd especially from their earlier days drowned out the lyrics. Specifically, with the Wall, they spoke to audiences together.
Collaboration among the band members was not smooth and working together was a strain. Roger Waters wanted and sued for most of the credit regarding the blockbuster album the Wall. But he lost his legal battle, and the group dissolved a few years later.
Most of the members have gone on to work solo with some level of success
Nick Mason recalls his time as the drummer. It wasn’t easy to watch the battles go on from the sidelines. Nor was it a walk in the park to perform with people you didn’t agree. Mostly the band just wanted to have a good time, collect chicks and create a show no one would forget. Mason is happily retired from Pink Floyd.
David Gilmour continues a solo career as a well-known guitarist even though his vocals are unique. He continues to perform as Pink Floyd did from “Live at Pompeii.” His audio-visual light show is spectacular and reflects the style he has contributed to for many decades. Gilmore’s dedication to music seems unending.
Even though the band is a memory, their music continues to touch audiences around the world. Their distinct sound will always affect the generation that grew up with them as well as the millennials of today.
Classic rock will forever stay in style
Although Pink Floyd is in a category all their own, they join the biggest and brightest bands from the same era. Each is having their own style. Each is making their distinct mark on the hearts and minds of generations.
One of my absolute favorite songs by Pink Floyd is “learning to fly.” It is one of the few songs by them that needs no visual aid. It is a work of art and stands alone without any other artistic medium to make its point.
Although the band is finished, their songs will rank forever in the house of rock. Classic rock lists will always include their greatest hits. Indeed, no one will forget Floyd laser and light shows which accompanied their songs hand in hand.