Recorded March-December 1976
at Britannia Row Studios in Islington, Longdon, England
1977 marked a time for change
in the music industry--disco and punk were becoming popular, and
established rock bands like Pink Floyd were on the decline. The
newer "musicians" like Johnny Rotten targeted progressive
rock as being "lame" and "uncool", and Mr. Rotten
made this point known by taking Pink Floyd T-Shirts and writing
"I hate" over the logo. Even though Pink Floyd's followers
didn't stray from the band, the music media had a very negative
view of the Floyd. The band, unfortunately, had no strength to do
anything about their image because of the massive touring over the
past few years, and took most of 1976 in the studios again to record
a new album. The band spent 500,000 pounds on the latest in studio
equpiment and were eager to put it to use. This was the last recording
session in which Waters, Gilmour, Mason, and Wright were all on
good terms with each other. Waters was very much in control, but
a weary Gilmour was passive about things and let Waters have his
1. Pigs on the Wing (Part I) [Waters]
Recorded : November 1976 at Britannia
The opening and closing tracks are almost identical, and are actually love songs, which is very uncharacteristic of Waters. He wrote the songs for his new wife, Carolyne Christie, who is the niece of the Marquis of Zetland and a one time secretary to Pink Floyd producer Bob Ezrin. At first listen, it is an obtrusive, meaningless piece in the way of the meat of the album. Upon closer inspection, it is the only thing that keeps the album from being a 45 minute, as Waters puts it, "scream of rage". Apparantly, Carolyne was exactly what Waters needed, someone to match wits with his argumentative and pessemistic mind. "Roger was very good with words, and you had to be good at semantics to beat him in an argument." says Peter Jenner. "Poor Syd didn't have that skill, and neither did any of the others for that matter. I think he was looking for someone to stand up to him all along." The song was one of the last to be recorded, and was written by Waters in a demo session a few months earlier. The song's meaning is that Waters had finally found someone who can help him escape the madness of life. This especially rang true for Waters following the huge success of "Wish You Were Here" and "Dark Side Of The Moon", and his new wife made him much happier and stopped him from transforming into a "pig". Even the band said he was much easier to work with.The third line comes from the original version of "Sheep", called "Raving and Drooling", and stems from the phrase "and pigs might fly", meaning achieving the impossible. The Floyd certainly did just that with this incredible album.
If you didn't care what happened to me,
2. Dogs [Waters, Gilmour]
Recorded : March-December 1976
at Britannia Row Studios
Interview with David Gilmour
This is the song. It began years before, when the band would play it during the summer of 1974, when it was known as "You Gotta Be Crazy". The fact that they "road tested" a lot of their material on audiences to find out what worked and what didn't is one of the things that made the Floyd so great in the 70's. The song was so good that little changed over the 3 years, making it the strongest track on the album. "Dogs" are overachieving back-stabbers who climb the success ladder any way they can, only to die at an old age of cancer, or to be dragged down by the very weight they used to need to throw around. This track features some of Waters' most brilliant lyrics, such as "you just keep on pretending that everyone's expendable and no one has a real friend"--showing that the dogs think everyone is as shifty and cutthroat as they are, but no one admits it. This is also prominent in the line "you believe at heart everyone's a killer"--the dogs are paranoid and always looking over their shoulders for another dog to attack them. The best line, however, is "just another sad old man, all alone and dying of cancer". This is sung to the dog, in an almost frustrating last resort to try and tell the dog off. He's saying that no matter how successful and powerful the dog may become, he will end up like all the rest. "Another" in the line says that there are many others like him, and "dying of cancer" is one of those lines that makes you think, whether you're a dog or not, about your own mortality. The most striking part is that he wishes the dog would die. "The stone" is the symbol for negativity and pessemism, and probably Waters used this as a way of dealing with his own personality traits, realizing how negative and pessemistic he had become. The stone prevents you from enjoying life and leaves you stuck to wallow in your own bitterness, which Waters seemed to thrive on in other works such as "The Wall" and "The Final Cut". The song itself began with Gilmour's opening guitar chords, and it was given to Waters during the "Wish You Were Here" sessions for approval, but tossed aside because it didn't fit in with the album. Ultimately it became some of Gilmour's best guitar solo work, and Gilmour himself finds it one of his best pieces. Unfortunately, the best version never reached the public's ears because of an inadvertant error by Waters. Not accustomed to the new studio equipment, he accidentally erased Gilmour's best take of the solo, and the second version, although incredible, was not as good as the original. Gilmour attempted to mimic the growling and barking of a dog, and it is evident in the song. The actual dog noises were created by a tape of dog barks put through a Vocoder, which creates the sound into synthesizer chords, and then ran through a Leslie (rotating) speaker.
You gotta be crazy, you gotta have a real need.
And after a while, you can work on points for
You gotta keep one eye looking over your shoulder.
And when you loose control, you'll reap the harvest
you have sown.
I gotta admit that I'm a little bit confused.
Deaf, dumb and blind, you just keep on pretending
Who was born in a house full of pain.
3. Pigs (Three Different Ones) [Waters]
Recorded : April-May 1976 at
Britannia Row Studios
"Pigs" are those who think they know what is right for everyone, regardless of what they think. These people are simply charades, and their overbearing nature and tendancy to act like they are better than everyone else is really a product of their own fears in life. The song has three verses and one pig in each verse. The first pig is a corporate pig, who does everything he can to get success, almost like a dog. The second pig is a bitter woman Waters says represents Margaret Thatcher, whose conservative political views clash harshly with Waters' strong socialist politics. The third pig is Mary Whitehouse, leader of the National Viewers and Listeners Association at the time, and strong campaigner for censorship in Britain, which Waters was very much opposed to. Waters tinkered with the lyrics for six months, and feared using her name because of retaliation, but after seeing her in the papers week after week decided to put it in. She made nasty comments about Pink Floyd in the 60's, claiming they glorified drugs, sex and hedonism. "Why does she make such a fuss about everything if she isn't motivated by fear?" asked Waters. "She's frightened that we're all being perverted." The middle part of the song is Gilmour's talk box imitating a squealing pig, which uses voice to shape the notes, which makes the guitar talk. This song contains some of Waters' most bitter and ingenius lyrics, most notably "you radiate cold shafts of broken glass", which is a gem in the Floyd lyric archives. There is a rich imagery of words here, "pig stain on your fat chin", "tight lips and cold feet", all evoke images of greedy, power-hungry...well, pigs.
Big man, pig man, ha ha charade you are.
Bus stop rat bag, ha ha charade you are.
Hey you, Whitehouse,
4. Sheep [Waters]
Recorded: April, May and July
Waters wrote "Sheep" specifically for the road, and it was played under its original title of "Raving and Drooling" at the same time that "Dogs" appeared in the Floyd's set list. Written about a man who was clearly insane, Waters thought the band should include some new material in the set list, and even changed the title (temporarily) to "I Fell On His Neck With A Scream", a very old Floydian style of song title. Waters re-wrote the lyrics for the album, creating a vision of ignorant, peaceful beings being led to the slaughterhouse, suddenly realizing what is wrong, then rebelling against their oppressors. Disturbingly, there is a parody of the 23rd psalm, performed by Nick Mason live, but on the album it is an unknown Floyd roadie blaspheming through a vocoder. The verse does contain a very intersting use of words "with bright knives"--very discriptive indeed. The song's literal meaning is that of what could happen if the conditions in England did not get better, that the people might revolt against the "too conservative" government. Waters' own socialist beliefs are very prominent here, and was seen as a prophetic view of Britain in the 80's. Roger puts it this way: "Sheep was my sense of what was to come down in England, and it did last summer with the riots in England, in Brixton and Toxeth, and it will happen again. It will always happen. There are too many of us in the world and we treat each other badly. We get obsessed with things, and there aren't enough of things, products, to go round. If we're persuaded it's important to have them, that we're nothing without them, and there aren't enough of them to go round, the people without them are going to get angry. Content and discontent follow very closely the rise and fall on the graph of world recession and expansion." Although Gilmour was very pleased with his solo at the end (it is one of the finest Floyd riffs ever), he didn't include it on the '87 or '94 tours. He claimed he couldn't achieve the bitter vocals well enough, though he has hinted at it popping up on the next tour.
Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland
What do you get for pretending the danger's not
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Bleating and babbling I fell on his neck with
Have you heard the news?
5. Pigs on the Wing (Part Two) [Waters]
Recorded : December 1976 at Britania
This coda, to what may be the most downbeat album Pink Floyd ever recorded, is an upbeat way to bring the album down gently and not end on a sour note. It also functions to preserve the continuity of the album, which in many ways is a negative way of saying the cycle is never-ending. The positive overtone, however, is that if you find someone you can share your life with, you can avoid the harmful effects of the Dogs, Pigs and Sheep. Waters says the first verse means "where would I be without you?" and the second verse says "in the face of all this other shit--you care, and that makes it possible to survive."
You know that I care what happens to you,