Music History

Published on December 3rd, 2017 | by Brent Chittenden

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52 Albums That Changed My Life (and Other Exaggerations), Chapter 49: The Wall

Assuming you’ve read the chapters in order up until this point, the inclusion of Pink Floyd’s The Wall may seem sort of odd. I’ve already declared previously that my favorite Pink Floyd album is Wish You Were Here and it still is, not backtracking on that at all. So why is The Wall up here?

The Wall is on this list as it represents the opening up my mind to the idea of the concept of the concept album. Of how rock music can be theatrical but still kick a serious amount of ass. To me, The wall represents the full extent of what can be possible with an album. It can be an album. It can be a theatrical performance. It can be a movie. The material can mutate as the years goes by and become what it needs to be.

When I first heard The Wall, it was off a crappy cassette that was recorded from a well-worn vinyl copy from my Uncle Bill’s collection. I had already hopped on board the Floyd train so it was no big surprise that I liked it. What did surprise me is that the first thing I thought was, “Why isn’t this a stage play?” I had gone to see a Toronto theater production of The Who’s Tommy and been impressed despite never hearing the album (interestingly, even though my Dad had a fairly decent Who collection, it rarely got played in the house). When hearing The Wall, I was surprised that someone hadn’t done to it what had been done to Tommy. It was even broken up into acts perfect for Broadway. To be honest, to this day, I’m still slightly surprised it’s never happened.

I then saw Roger Water’s The Wall – Live in Berlin and got to see what The Wall could be musically. How performers of different voices like Bryan Adams and Cyndi Lauper could do with the material. The theatrical presentation increased my wonderment. All of this can be built a record that was essentially put together with one very demanding creative voice.

When I reached high school, one of my favorite people in the world that we’ll call AG and I began talking about Pink Floyd and eventually talk turned to The Wall. She asked if I had ever seen the movie. Shocked that I said no, at some point she put it on for me. Maybe it was at a party, maybe she gave the VHS to watch. Regardless, I ended up seeing it.

And I didn’t like it.

The movie… is not for me. But the grand ambition behind the movie was to be admired. Someone had heard this album and thought, “There’s a movie in that!” and tried their best to make one. I know with Floyd fans, there are some who like it, some who hate it but it’s really hard to dispute that those who were involved really gave it a go.

Finally, I got tickets to see Roger Waters tour The Wall in 2010 during its opening run. There was a sound issue or two but to say the show was anything less than incredible would be lying. It was everything you wanted The Wall to be but there was an added element. There was a bit of a political theme going on and even then, Waters was warning us about upcoming political changes that seemed to be mount in the US. They were a little subtle at the time but you really got the feeling the Water’s absolutely knew what was coming and if you’ve seen his latest tour, you know he is not afraid at speaking his mind about the guy currently running the United States. But again, within the context of The Wall, Waters could take this largely theatrical show and make it political.But he could also make it seem very personal. It’s the beauty of The Wall, there is a song and topic for everyone and if it isn’t at first, depending on how it is bent, it can be.

The Wall is not my favorite Pink Floyd album, not by a long shot, but it is an album that can always conjure up a bit of “How did Roger Waters and Pink Floyd ever manage to achieve this?”

Not to mention the fact that the guitar solo in “Comfortably Numb” is just the best solo ever.




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About the Author

Brent Chittenden is a freelance writer with a gift for the geek. Currently a writer with A Journal Of Musical Things and a podcaster with True North Nerds, he's also written for Comic Book Daily, Explore Music and a dozen other places. Currently, he is the co-host of the True North Nerds podcast. You can find out more at www.facebook.com/bcchittenden


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2 Responses to 52 Albums That Changed My Life (and Other Exaggerations), Chapter 49: The Wall

  1. Sometimes, it’s relatable too, for better or worse. … Probably worse. Cos I’m pretty sure no one wants to end up like Pink. o-o

  2. doug says:

    Not only is it my favourite Floyd record, it’s my favourite album of all time. I have to be in the right frame of mind to listen to it – it’s not a feel-good record – but when I’m in the mood, it’s without equal. And Comfortably Numb is the greatest rock song every recorded, IMO. I also saw The Wall tour in 2010 (Vancouver, took my son with VIP tickets, 8th row floor – spendy and worth every penny), and he’s as big a Floyd/The Wall fan as I am. I also like the movie. 🙂

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