I had such a good roll going on these album posts each week and then I got in a funk as I do, and fell off a cliff. Conveniently enough, Pink Floyd’s The Wall is an album I used to listen to frequently when I was “in a funk”, though not quite as much anymore these days. I mentioned last post that these are less reviews and more just writing about music I enjoy or have enjoyed, and The Wall is definitely one of my “top albums” for time listened to and how much I like it.
It’s also kind of up there for “number of times I have bought it”, but that’s not hard, as I don’t own too many albums more than once. I have the CD version, I have a live CD version, I have a copy on Vinyl, an old one not a reissue, possible even one of the original versions as it doesn’t have any text on it, just the Wall itself.
When I originally bought this CD is kind of a funny story. I was quite young at the time, and had gone to Best Buy I think with my dad and uncle maybe. I forget why they went, but I went browsing through the CDs, which at the time was a giant multi aisle set up, right up front. Like 1/4th the floor space of the store or something, which is funny because now you’re lucky to find am 8 foot section of CDs at a Best Buy. Anyway, I bought a copy of The Beavis and Butthead Experience (and I think maybe also Nirvana’s Nevermind). When I got home, my mom disapproved of Beavis and Butthead, so I was forced to return the CD, and instead, I bought The Wall. I would have been like 13 or 14 at the time. Funny enough, The Wall was originally released the same year I was born.
It’s probably better in the long run. Also, I eventually bought that Beavis and Butthead CD again, later. I’m also not real sure thematically that The Wall is much better than Beavis and Butthead for a young fresh teenager.
One thing I feel like this album really influenced in my music tastes is the idea of an album that “tells a story”. It’s certainly not the first rock opera ever, but it’s the first one I was really exposed to. To this day, albums with connected underlying themes, even if it’s a super loose connection, really strike my fancy. The Wall tells a story of a man (named Pink) who grew up with a shitty abusive childhood, who became famous, goes a bit crazy, and isolates himself behind a mental wall. At the climax his inner self passes judgement and he is able to break free. The album is also circular in that the end of the album runs seamlessly into the start of the album, allowing it to be run on an endless, connected loop, though that would have been tricky to do before digital media.
Albums with literally connected tracks, are also something I really like, and The Wall may be to blame for that as well.
The album is effectively split into two parts. On the CD version, this is split into the first and second CDs. The first half is the building of the wall, and an exploration of the character’s history and life up until that point. There are quite a few returning themes that run this thread, the most blatant of which is in the three versions of Another Brick in the Wall, which serve as brief interlude moments where previous trauma is compartmentalized off as “another brick in the wall.”
The second half follows Pink’s isolation and decent into a drug induced madness. The airy calmer tracks are intermixed with several sorrowful regretful tracks before Pink hallucinates he is a fascist dictator chasing down minorities at the peak of his delusions. World War II themes are one of the underlying themes of this story as well, the character’s father having died during the way, and several tracks referencing the destruction from the war. Eventually it climaxes off with the previously mentioned The Trial, where Pink is laid bare and judged for his crimes.
The circular nature of the album also is a nod towards how cyclic depression can get, where yes, our hero has broken free and come to his senses, but all of this previous trauma still exists and will come back to close the world off once more.
It’s not worth it’s own separate post, but it’s worth mentioning that the Live Album, Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980-81, is excellent as well.
There is also a music movie version out there, though it’s been a while since I watched it. I have also heard the live shows at the time of it’s release were incredible to watch, with huge puppets and anamatronics and such, but I would have been way to young to ever see it performed live.
Dark Side of the Moon seems to be the most popular album Pink Floyd has put out, but my favorite has always been The Wall by a long way.