Roger Waters’ Ego Doesn’t Age: Rebuilding the Wall

The WallThe news came out today that Roger Waters will be taking Pink Floyd‘s “The Wall” on the road this fall. I distinctly remember kids in school saying you had to be stoned to “get it.” Maybe you do, if you’re the type of braindead dipshit who thinks Jim Morrison is a major American poet. I mean, I was a half-bright fifteen-year-old virgin when I first saw it, and even I caught the obvious central metaphor. It’s the shallowest, least subtle concept album of the original rock opera era. It’s frankly just kinda dumb.

But don’t tell that to Roger Waters. Dude has milked his dead dad and overprotective mom for the last 30 years. Boo hoo, your teachers were mean! Fucking crybaby.

So now he apparently feels he needs to justify hauling out his guaranteed cash cow: “This new production of The Wall is an attempt to draw some comparisons, to illuminate our current predicament, and is dedicated to all the innocent lost in the intervening years.” Dude, it’s okay to do it for the money.

Read Waters’ entire pathetic justification below…

Why am I doing the Wall again now?

I recently came across this quote of mine from 22 years ago:

“What it comes down to for me is this: Will the technologies of communication in our culture, serve to enlighten us and help us to understand one another better, or will they deceive us and keep us apart?”

I believe this is still a supremely relevant question and the jury is out. There is a lot of commercial clutter on the net, and a lot of propaganda, but I have a sense that just beneath the surface understanding is gaining ground. We just have to keep blogging, keep twittering, keep communicating, keep sharing ideas.

30 Years ago when I wrote The Wall I was a frightened young man. Well not that young, I was 36 years old.

It took me a long time to get over my fears. Anyway, in the intervening years it has occurred to me that maybe the story of my fear and loss with it’s concomitant inevitable residue of ridicule, shame and punishment, provides an allegory for broader concerns.: Nationalism, racism, sexism, religion, Whatever! All these issues and ‘isms are driven by the same fears that drove my young life.

This new production of The Wall is an attempt to draw some comparisons, to illuminate our current predicament, and is dedicated to all the innocent lost in the intervening years.

In some quarters, among the chattering classes, there exists a cynical view that human beings as a collective are incapable of developing more ‘humane’ ie, kinder, more generous, more cooperative, more empathetic relationships with one another.

I disagree.

In my view it is too early in our story to leap to such a conclusion, we are after all a very young species.

I believe we have at least a chance to aspire to something better than the dog eat dog ritual slaughter that is our current response to our institutionalized fear of each other.

I feel it is my responsibility as an artist to express my, albeit guarded, optimism, and encourage others to do the same. To quote the great man, ” You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

– Roger Waters, 2010

21 thoughts on “Roger Waters’ Ego Doesn’t Age: Rebuilding the Wall”

  1. I recall John Lydon being asked why, after so many years, he felt it was appropriate for the Sex Pistols to do a tour. He looked right into the camera and said, “Well, it’s very simple, you see. I want your money. That’s it. There is no other reason.”

  2. I don’t really care for The Wall either, I think Pink Floyd suffered greatly as Waters became mostly the sole songwriter in later years. But I find it supremely arrogant of Jake Brown to assume he knows another person’s intentions without sufficient evidence. Who is Jake Brown to say that Waters is not sincere in his vision for a more peaceful humane world through the healing of fears that drive most of the destruction we see in our world? Its a small-minded person who needs to attack someone else who is trying to do something positive with his art. Is this the same Jake Brown who “wrote” that awful book about Rick Rubin? If so, that puts a serious dent in his credibility.

  3. Also, I don’t really care what his intentions are. That was the point. Oh, and to point out that his professed intentions are silly. Whatever though. The show must go on.

  4. Jake Brown is giving his opinion as you just did, Matthew. Roger Waters was a creative force to be sure. But he does continue to recycle the same songs to the point where many fans have long since tuned out, including me. He(Waters) is a pie-in-the-sky liberal who wishes that the world was different than it really is on many levels. I personally think Waters is really stretching the “themes” that are presented in “The Wall” when he’s rambling on about whatever he’s rambling on about. I don’t doubt Waters’ sincerity – just his view of reality. Keep it up, Jake.

  5. To Jonathan:

    Giving your opinion of art is fine, which is what you did, Jonathan, and articulately so in my opinion. What this Jake Brown is doing is simply calling people names like “fucking crybaby” and “braindead dipshit” and making unsubstantiated accusations about an artists intentions. In my opinion, that is just poor journalism. A critic cannot ever really know what an artist thinks or feels unless the artist says what they think or feel. If you are going to imply that the artist is being disgenuine, you’d better be able to support your claim with evidence.

    To Jake: It seems you do care about Waters’ intentions because you imply that his reasons for doing this Wall tour are to make money, in spite of the fact that Waters has stated clearly what his intentions are. You also present no evidence to back up your claim. Again, poor journalism on your part.

  6. A closer reading would reveal that I never actually claim he is doing it for the money. Just that if he is, that’s perfectly acceptable. No need to go on and on in order to make yourself out to be more pretentious and self-important than you already are!

    A critic cannot ever really know what an artist thinks or feels unless the artist says what they think or feel.

    What an artist says is probably the least reliable indicator of what they actually think or feel!

  7. I respectfully disagree that a critic “cannot ever really know what an artist thinks or feels unless the artist says what they think or feel.” What else does a critic or a fan do except react to the art that is being presented in whatever form – be it music or film or whatever? And that reaction, Matthew, is an interpretation of the artist’s feelings just by the very nature of the fact that a reaction has occured. That’s a bit philosophical I guess. But all of us, whether fans or “journalists” are constantly reacting to an artist’s body of work every time we are exposed to it. Some reactions are positive and thus we return again and again. Others are quite negative and we quickly tune out. Jake, like me, seems to have put Roger Waters up on a shelf where he will remain. I don’t think Waters is a braindead dipshit, but if Jake does, so be it. It’s an opinion – it doesn’t need to be supported – in my opinion.

  8. To get even more philosophical, I think the very act of creating music/art is an attempt to convey what the musician/artist feels in a way that resonates on an emotional level with the listener/viewer. It is part of our role as “critics” (or fans, or consumers, or whatever) to interpet the message in a way that is meaningful.

  9. Maybe I’m “just kinda dumb” too, but for my money, The Wall was a masterpiece; a stunning artistic achievement for many reasons beyond its central metaphor. It’s head and shoulders above The Dark Side of the Moon; which is saying something.

    Jake, I generally enjoy your writing and analysis quite a bit, so am willing to forgive this blasphemy. That said, Roger’s always been a bit of a d-bag…but then, so has Ryan Adams; and he’s singularly responsible for more moments of truly great music in the past 15 years than anyone else that springs to mind. Fortunately I can separate the artist from the art. How else could I enjoy Oasis?

  10. Ok now I’m really thinking about my intitial exposure to ‘The Wall’ and I must say that as I was learning to play guitar at the age of 15, this album did provide many songs from which I could play along and learn some real simple chord changes. I did spend hours playing ‘Mother’ on my acoustic because it’s an easy song and I do still like it. Gilmore’s electric solo is gently melodic over some pretty heartfelt lyrics concerning self doubt and isolation. That being said, I also spent many hours tripping balls with my friends watching the movie because…well because we thought that’s what we were supoosed to watch when we were tripping balls. I couldn’t even sit through it today without some sort of mood enhancer I don’t think, but not anything like the old days. It’s way over the top and silly to me now.

  11. Oh, the movie’s garbage…I can’t imagine anybody’d give you a serious arguement on that. Like Jonathan, it’s something we all watched because we thought we were supposed to.

  12. so freedom of speech/journalism/opinions is one thing. bashing 2 great artists of our time in such a rude, inappropriate, hateful manner as u did is this one paragraph is to say the least bullshit. i grew up on this, passed on from my father, i’m 30 & feel that this(the album&movie) was much more than anyone realizes. and the fact he wants to make this tour about more than him & honor fallen ones lost to war & such is very meaningful. u speak of his intentions, whether u believe him or not its flat out disrepctful of u to say it doesnt have that meaning. so its jus a big front huh? i’d research more b4 u speculate…r.waters “rambling” in recent interviews makes a lot of sense. he speaks of our generation being the 1st to make a difference compared to 100yrs ago when u didnt anything we can today in many dif forms. he speaks of intelligent forfathers that left great quotes & views that we should feed off of positively, not in this disgusting critical bullshit way. its music, listen to it luv it or hate it! ever thought artists dont always want u to read so much into lyrics&jus sit back&enjoy the art they had the balls&talent to make unlike many others. sorry but art is art, who cares why hes doin it, i feel lucky to experience it considering i never had that chance b/c of my age! sorry if i offend u but im sur u understand considering u do the same ~peace luv music~

  13. Ericka – who is the 2nd artist being bashed here besides Roger Waters? Jim Morrison? Artist? Paleese.

  14. Having first heard The Wall as an impressionable teenager I found it to be a masterpiece; more so than Dark Side of the Moon. And the film version was an eye-opener, mostly because it was an album come to life as opposed to The Wall being mere soundtrack music. I was floored by it and–in a total state of sobriety, mind you–saw it repeatedly on the big screen.

    Many years later, I enjoy the album somewhat but feel my initial assertion vis-a-vis Dark Side of the Moon was spectacularly wrong, to say the least: the dour heavy handedness of The Wall–which was even more prevalent on Waters’ subsequent albums–has not aged very well; Dark Side of the Moon remains timeless. (As for the movie, I still feel it is The Wall come to life on the screen but am much less forgiving in my appraisal of it as I was then.)

    I dunno…Waters’ motives for hauling out the big, white styrofoam bricks one last time may be quite pretentious but I don’t think he needs the money. And in his recent statements regarding this new go-round, he does make some interesting points, albeit non-original ones, about humans interacting and communicating and technology’s role in that deal. Maybe the idea is to look at the concept behind The Wall with a fresh perspective. Unfortunately, the blunt and sometimes clumsy manner–specifically towards the end–in which Waters chose to make his points doesn’t help matters.

  15. I think the Wall is brilliant because it’s raw emotion.
    The Wall helped me get trough depression. Yes Roger did have an ego taller than he was, but at least he had feelings. If you want to oversimplify The Wall, it’s message is basically IT’S OK TO FEEL. Maybe you’re better at hiding your feelings or suppressing them, but there are thousands of people that don’t. That’s why The Wall means so much to so many.
    Roger was an unhappy child, always thinking about politics and violence; and always creating fights involving his own ego and the ones of his teachers.
    Roger grew up afraid, there’s a line in the album that says “Momma’s gonna put all of her fears into you” and that’s exactly what she did. He desperately wanted a fatherly figure and he never found it. So yes he did make the album out of fearful thoughts. Also he had many problems during that period of his life which made it even worse. His wife, his coworkers, the meda etc.
    You cannot judge him if you don’t know what he’s been trough. The Wall also involves a bit of Syd’s life, which gravely affected Roger.
    The wall represents isolation, he was fed up with it and decided to tear down the wall.
    Obviously like any other human being, he has to make money, he found this a good way gain money AND send a message to the people. Remember guys, it’s ok to feel.

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