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brick in wall

Another Brick in the Wall

"Another Brick in the Wall" is the title of three songs set to variations of the same basic theme, on Pink Floyd's 1979 concept album, The Wall, subtitled Part I, Part II, and Part III, respectively, all of which were written by Pink Floyd's bassist and then lead songwriter, Roger Waters.

Part II is a protest song against rigid schooling in general and boarding schools in particular, which has led to the song being banned in several countries. . It is best known for the line "We don't need no education", which is one of the band's most well-known songs and also their biggest hit. It was released as a single and provided the band's only number-one hit in the UK, the US, West Germany and many other countries. In the UK, it was their first single since 1968's "Point Me at the Sky". For Part II, Pink Floyd received a Grammy nomination for Best Performance by a Rock Duo or Group and lost to Bob Seger's "Against the Wind". In addition, Part II was #375 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.

In 1980, the song was adopted as a protest anthem by black students during the "Elsie's River" uprising in South Africa, protesting against the racial propaganda and bias in the official curriculum. On May 2, it was banned by the government.

Concept

Each of the three parts have a similar, if not the same, tune and lyrical structure (not lyrics, apart from the "all in all" part), and each one is louder and more enraged than the one before, rising from the sadness of Part I to the protesting Part II to the angry, selfish, pessimistic and cynical Part III.

Part I

Composition

Part I of the song is very quiet in dynamics and features a long, subdued guitar solo. The vocals are softer and more gentle in tone than in Parts II and III, although there is a short, sharp rise in dynamics and tone for a brief period towards the end of the lyrical portion.

Plot

The Thin Ice discussed during the previous song breaks when Pink becomes older and learns of the death of his father. Pink is devastated by this reality and begins to build The Wall.

Film version

Pink's mother is seen praying in a church after the death of her husband overseas. Pink, however, is at this point oblivious of his death, playing with a toy airplane. The song continues with Pink playing in a public park after his mother leaves him to go shopping. He sees a man who he takes a liking to in the absence of his own father. The man gives Pink a lift onto a ride, and it's clear Pink feels as if this man is his real father. Pink follows the man's son around, copying him, but doesn't understand why the other boy's father isn't paying attention to him. He grabs the man's hand but is shooed away, only to grab the man's hand again. The man pushes Pink away again, and dejectedly he sits on a swing.

Part II

Composition

In the album version of The Wall, "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II" transitions in from "The Happiest Days of Our Lives", with a trademark scream from Roger Waters (Waters screams like this most notably on the track "Careful with That Axe, Eugene"). The two songs are sometimes played one after the other on the radio, particularly on rock stations, because of how the songs merge together and because the single version has a guitar intro not used on the album. The song has strong drums, a well-known bass line and distinctive guitar parts in the background with a smooth yet edgy guitar solo. After the line, 'Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone!' there is a short melody which is quite easy to remember. The song also features a group of school children for lead vocals in the second verse: as the song ends, the sounds of a school yard are heard, along with the teacher who continues to lord it over the children's lives by shouting such things as "Wrong! Do it again!" which somehow sounds mocking, and "If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?!", all of it dissolving into the dull drone of a phone ringing and ending with a deep sigh.

School choir

For "Part II", Pink Floyd needed a school choir, and producer Bob Ezrin asked sound engineer Nick Griffiths to find one. Griffiths approached music teacher Alun Renshaw of Islington Green School, around the corner from their Britannia Row Studios. Though the school received a lump sum payment of £1000, there was no contractual arrangement for royalties from record sales. Under 1996 UK copyright law, they became eligible for royalties from broadcasts, and after royalties agent Peter Rowan traced choir members through the website Friends Reunited and other means, they claimed their payments. Contrary to press reports, this did not involve suing Pink Floyd. Music industry professionals estimated that each student would be owed around £500.

Plot

After being insulted by the teacher, Pink dreams that the kids in Pink's school begin to protest against their abusive teachers.

Film version

Following "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" Pink starts to daydream during his class. He imagines several students marching in unison to the beat of the song, following a path until they fall blindly into an oversized meat-grinder to re-emerge as putty-faced clones void of individual distinction. Starting with Gilmour's guitar solo, the children destroy the school building using hammers (foreshadowing the subsequent Nazi sequence with its marching hammers) and create a bonfire, dragging their teacher out of the burning school kicking and screaming. The song ends with Pink rubbing his hand, which the teacher slapped with a ruler in the previous song.

Music video

Prior to the film, the first video for the track, directed by Gerald Scarfe, depicted students running in a playground and the teacher puppet from The Wall concerts was used. The video also mixed in some animated scenes later used in "The Trial" and "Waiting for the Worms". The children who sang on "Another Brick in the Wall (Pt. II)" could not appear in the video because they didn't hold Equity Cards .

Alternate versions

Part III

Composition

The song is loud in dynamics and features the once subtle bass line now unleashed at a loud volume to express Pink's rage. It is also the shortest "part" of Another Brick In The Wall.

Plot

Pink decides to finish this wall as a result of his rage after his wife's betrayal. He concludes he no longer needs anything at all, dismissing the people in his life as just "bricks in the wall".

Film version

In the film, the song is accompanied by a montage of events that contributed to the construction of the wall.

Cover versions

Personnel

  • Roger Waters: bass guitar, lead and harmony vocals, guitar on "Part III"
  • David Gilmour: guitars, lead vocals on "Part II" (in unison with Waters), harmony vocals on "Part I"
  • Nick Mason: drums on "Part II" and "Part III"
  • Richard Wright: Hammond organ "Part II, Prophet-5 synthesizer
  • Islington Green School students (organised by Alun Renshaw ): vocals on "Part II

Selected single sales

Country Certification Sales Last certification date Comment
France Gold 500,000 1980
United Kingdom Platinum 995,000 January 1980
USA Platinum 1,000,000 09/25/2001
USA Gold 500,000 05/08/2008 Digital Download
Germany Gold 150,000 1993

References

  • Fitch, Vernon. The Pink Floyd Encyclopedia (3rd edition), 2005. ISBN 1-894959-24-8
  • Fitch, Vernon and Mahon, Richard, Comfortably Numb - A History of The Wall 1978-1981, 2006

See also

External links

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