Death puts one in a reflective mood. For the past week, I've put Pink Floyd's The Wall on repeat around the house and at work and in my Volvo, which has some rust coloration in spots.
Heavily emotive guitar work all over the album. Lyrics full of double entendre, fear, loathing and shimmers of hope. And the last chords of Richard Wright on keyboard before he left the band.
Don't think that this is some kind of love note to Pink Floyd, because there's a lot about the album that I want to laugh at - like the over-the-top-ness of songs like Mother - but I just prefer to enjoy the pensive nature instead. The light picking on Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 1 really just sets up for the listener a tension that delivers some time later with the chords that finally drop into a song about heavy-handed schoolteachers. And Mommy issues and Daddy issues and all that other crap that a generation of kids growing up through the late 70s had a hard time verbalizing. The whole album has a way of distilling the various fears running through the time, made tangible primarily through Communism's various walls with the Western world like the Berlin Wall (Ich bin ein Berliner) or the DMZ in Korea. But also don't forget the Green Line separating Israel from the West Bank, or divisions from the Vietnam War that linger into today.
This wall-ness culminates in the first line of Mother, with "Mother, do you think they'll drop the bomb?" A polemic against the fear and paranoid thinking that leads people to put up a wall in the first place. Once the wall is up, there's no true communication, no reaching across. No understanding. The wall incubates thoughts and creates insular worlds to the point where people behind that will think, whatever comes across that wall can't be good.
Good fences make good neighbors, Frost wrote. And I agree. But a wall creates a barrier that says, "No, screw you. Go away." And in that same poem, Mending Wall, Frost agrees.
... Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence. ...
And this, too, which got me on this kick with The Wall to start: