Lyrical Themes

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Posted on Mon, 02/16/2015 - 8:18pm
by Angie Spray

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Marked by Waters' philosophical lyrics, Rolling Stone described Pink Floyd as "purveyors of a distinctively dark vision". Author Jere O'Neill Surber wrote: "their interests are truth and illusion, life and death, time and space, causality and chance, compassion and indifference." Waters identified empathy as a central theme in the lyrics of Pink Floyd. Author George Reisch described Meddle '​s psychedelic opus, "Echoes", as "built around the core idea of genuine communication, sympathy, and collaboration with others." Despite having been labeled "the gloomiest man in rock", author Deena Weinstein described Waters as an existentialist, dismissing the unfavourable moniker as the result of misinterpretation by music critics.

Disillusionment, Absence, and Non-Being

Waters' lyrics to Wish You Were Here '​s "Have a Cigar" deal with a perceived lack of sincerity on the part of music industry representatives. The song illustrates a dysfunctional dynamic between the band and a record label executive who congratulates the group on their current sales success, implying that they are on the same team while revealing that he erroneously believes "Pink" is the name of one of the band members. According to author David Detmer, the album's lyrics deal with the "dehumanizing aspects of the world of commerce", a situation the artist must endure in order to reach their audience.

Absence as a lyrical theme is common in the music of Pink Floyd. Examples include the absence of Barrett after 1968, and that of Waters' father, who died during the Second World War. Waters' lyrics also explored unrealized political goals and unsuccessful endeavors. Their film score, Obscured by Clouds, dealt with the loss of youthful exuberance that sometimes comes with aging. Longtime Pink Floyd album cover designer, Storm Thorgerson, described the lyrics of Wish You Were Here: "The idea of presence withheld, of the ways that people pretend to be present while their minds are really elsewhere, and the devices and motivations employed psychologically by people to suppress the full force of their presence, eventually boiled down to a single theme, absence: The absence of a person, the absence of a feeling." Waters commented: "it's about none of us really being there ... [it] should have been called Wish We Were Here".

O'Neill Surber explored the lyrics of Pink Floyd and declared the issue of non-being a common theme in their music. Waters invoked non-being or non-existence in The Wall, with the lyrics to "Comfortably Numb": "I caught a fleeting glimpse, out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look, but it was gone, I cannot put my finger on it now, the child is grown, the dream is gone." Barrett referred to non-being in his final contribution to the band's catalogue, "Jugband Blues": "I'm most obliged to you for making it clear that I'm not here."

Exploitation and Oppression

Author Patrick Croskery described Animals as a unique blend of the "powerful sounds and suggestive themes" of Dark Side with The Wall '​s portrayal of artistic alienation. He drew a parallel between the album's political themes and that of Orwell's Animal FarmAnimals begins with a thought experiment, which asks: "If you didn't care what happened to me. And I didn't care for you", then develops a beast fable based on anthropomorphized characters using music to reflect the individual states of mind of each. The lyrics ultimately paint a picture of dystopia, the inevitable result of a world devoid of empathy and compassion, answering the question posed in the opening lines.

The album's characters include the "Dogs", representing fervent capitalists, the "Pigs", symbolizing political corruption, and the "Sheep", who represent the exploited. Croskery described the "Sheep" as being in a "state of delusion created by a misleading cultural identity", a false consciousness. The "Dog", in his tireless pursuit of self-interest and success, ends up depressed and alone with no one to trust, utterly lacking emotional satisfaction after a life of exploitation. Waters used Mary Whitehouse as an example of a "Pig"; being someone who in his estimation, used the power of the government to impose her values on society. At the album's conclusion, Waters returns to empathy with the lyrical statement: "You know that I care what happens to you. And I know that you care for me too." However, he also acknowledges that the "Pigs" are a continuing threat and reveals that he is a "Dog" who requires shelter, suggesting the need for a balance between state, commerce and community, versus an ongoing battle between them.

Alienation, War, and Insanity

O'Neill Surber compared the lyrics of Dark Side '​s "Brain Damage" with Karl Marx '​s theory of self-alienation; "there's someone in my head, but it's not me." The lyrics to Wish You Were Here '​s "Welcome to the Machine" suggest what Marx called the alienation of the thing; the song's protagonist preoccupied with material possessions to the point that he becomes estranged from himself and others. Allusions to the alienation of man's species being can be found in Animals; the "Dog" reduced to living instinctively as a non-human. The "Dogs" become alienated from themselves to the extent that they justify their lack of integrity as a "necessary and defensible" position in "a cutthroat world with no room for empathy or moral principle" wrote Detmer. Alienation from others is a consistent theme in the lyrics of Pink Floyd, and it is a core element of The Wall.

War, viewed as the most severe consequence of the manifestation of alienation from others, is also a core element of The Wall, and a recurring theme in the band's music. Waters' father died in combat during the Second World War, and his lyrics often alluded to the cost of war, including those from "Corporal Clegg" (1968), "Free Four" (1972), "Us and Them" (1973), "When the Tigers Broke Free" and "The Fletcher Memorial Home" from The Final Cut (1983), an album dedicated to his late father and subtitled A Requiem for the Postwar Dream. The themes and composition of The Wall express Waters' upbringing in an English society depleted of men after the Second World War, a condition that negatively affected his personal relationships with women.

Waters' lyrics to The Dark Side of the Moon dealt with the pressures of modern life and how those pressures can sometimes cause insanity. He viewed the album's explication of mental illness as illuminating a universal condition. However, Waters also wanted the album to communicate positivity, calling it "an exhortation ... to embrace the positive and reject the negative." Reisch described The Wall as "less about the experience of madness than the habits, institutions, and social structures that create or cause madness." The Wall '​s protagonist, Pink, is unable to deal with the circumstances of his life, and overcome by feelings of guilt, slowly closes himself off from the outside world inside a barrier of his own making. After he completes his estrangement from the world, Pink realises that he is "crazy, over the rainbow". He then considers the possibility that his condition may be his own fault: "have I been guilty all this time?" Realizing his greatest fear, Pink believes that he has let everyone down, his overbearing mother wisely choosing to smother him, the teachers rightly criticising his poetic aspirations, and his wife justified in leaving him. He then stands trial for "showing feelings of an almost human nature", further exacerbating his alienation of species being. As with the writings of philosopher Michel Foucault, Waters' lyrics suggest Pink's insanity is a product of modern life, the elements of which, "custom, codependancies, and psychopathologies", contribute to his angst, according to Reisch.

 

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Pink Floyd - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia : taken from - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_Floyd
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