" is a song by the British progressive rock
band Pink Floyd
. It was released on The Wall
album in 1979
The song switches from a quiet dynamic to a louder one, expanding its instrumentation from acoustic guitar and solo voice to include (by the song's end) reed organ
, electric bass
, vocal harmony, and electric guitar
. At five minutes, 35 seconds in length, the song has a minimal introduction, consisting only of sharp inhalation
and rapid exhalation
before the first verses are sung by Roger Waters
. David Gilmour
sings a chorus in narrative response to the first set of lyrics and an instrumental interlude follows. Waters sings another verse, which is once more followed by Gilmour's chorus (with altered lyrics). Finally, the song concludes with a suddenly stripped-down arrangement and a ritardando
in which Waters sings, "Mother did it need to be so high?"
As with the other songs on The Wall
, "Mother" tells a portion of the story of Pink
, the album's protagonist. The song narrates a conversation by Pink (voiced by Waters) and his mother (voiced by Gilmour). The listener learns of the overprotectiveness of Pink's mother, who is helping Pink build his wall to try protect him from the outside world, evidenced by the line "of course mother's gonna help build the wall," spoken by Pink's mother. She insists that Pink stays by her side even after he grows up, and cannot stand it when Pink eventually grows older and falls in love.
The film version of the song replaces its acoustic guitar with a celesta
, resulting in a child's nursery rhyme
-type sound. A photo of Pink and his wife is shown sitting on the bedside table as Pink tries vainly to reach someone on the phone. As Pink places the phone receiver back in its cradle, a quick flashback of Pink and his wife kissing is shown, suggesting that Pink was trying to call his wife. As the song begins, Pink hugs his pillow to himself, followed by a quick shot of an adolescent Pink resting his head on his mother's chest. As Pink wonders, "Will they try to break my balls
?", young Pink is found sitting in his school's hallway, just outside an office. The following scene depicts young Pink, in the midst of studying, turning off his light, lighting a cigarette and watching a neighbour girl undress through a pair of binoculars
. Just as Pink is enjoying his free strip-show, his mother opens the door to his room, forcing Pink to put out his cigarette and continue his studies. This moment is intercut with a scene featuring an adult Pink watching a football
match on TV as his wife undresses, trying to entice him out of his trance. As she sits bare-chested in front of him, Pink manoeuvres himself so that he can watch some football in peace. The adult Pink's sterility in contrast to the younger Pink's normal sexuality is evidence of how the bricks supplied by his mother have affected him in his adult life.
The succeeding scene is accompanied by images of a sweaty Pink lying in bed with a doctor and his mother just outside his room discussing his illness, supposedly caused by his smoking, as this scene's original line "Is it just a waste of time" is replaced by the line "Mother,am I really dying". With the light off, phantasmagorial shadows appear on Pink's ceiling, resembling the masks worn by the students in Another Brick in the Wall, Part II. This sight scares Pink into sneaking into his mother's room and climbing into bed with her. This scene is followed by the adult Pink touching his sleeping wife's shoulder, only to have her roll over away from him, emphasising his abysmal sex life. Young Pink once again runs to his mother's room, only to see the decaying corpse of his dead father lying in bed next to his mother. When David Gilmour's guitar solo starts up, the scene flash-forwards to Pink's registry office wedding, followed by Pink's wife trying to get his attention at his piano. Hurt by his distant behavior, the neglected wife eventually leaves the room as Pink continues to play random notes on his piano. She eventually finds solace and love in a nuclear disarmament activist. After a scene featuring a reluctant Pink in a ballroom dancing class, where he eventually gets a much taller girl to dance with him, the present-day Pink, unable to get a hold of his wife, sulks and adopts a foetal position on his bed. As the song ends, Pink tries to contact his wife one last time, only to hear the male activist's voice on the other end. Pink, realising what just happened, lets go of the phone and slides against the wall.
- Fitch, Vernon. The Pink Floyd Encyclopedia (3rd edition), 2005. ISBN 1-894959-24-8