The Wall

For the movie based on the album, see Pink Floyd The Wall (film).
For other uses, see The Wall (disambiguation).Template:Album infobox

The Wall is a rock opera and concept album by Pink Floyd. Hailed by critics and fans as one of Pink Floyd's best albums (along with Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here), the album is known as a rock and roll classic, and its morbid, depressing anthems have inspired many contemporary rock musicians.

Roger Waters was inspired to create the album during a 1977 concert tour for Animals, dubbed Pink Floyd - In The Flesh. In Montreal, a fan's disruptive behaviour resulted in Waters spitting in the fan's face. Immediately disgusted with himself, Waters came up with the idea of building a wall between him and the audience, an idea which would later develop into the album.

The album has been certified 23 times platinum and sits in third place on the list of best-selling albums ever in the US and hit #1 on the Billboard Album Charts in 1980. Originally released on Columbia Records in the US and Harvest Records in the UK, The Wall was then re-released as a digitally remastered CD in 1994 in the UK on EMI. Columbia issued the remastered CD in 1997 in the US and rest of the world. For The Wall's 20th Anniversary in early 2000, Capitol Records in the US and EMI for the rest of the world outside the US re-released the 1997 remastered CD.

In 1998 Q magazine readers voted The Wall the 65th greatest album of all time.

In 2001, the Canadian alternative country band Luther Wright and the Wrongs released Rebuild the Wall, a track-for-track reimagining of The Wall as a country album.



The album's concept and most of the songs are by Waters. The album's storyline portrays the fictional life of an anti-hero ("Pink") who is hammered and beaten down by society from the earliest days of his life: smothered by his mother and oppressed at school, he withdraws into a fantasy world of his own. During a drug-induced hallucination, Pink becomes a fascist dictator only to have his conscience rebel at this and put himself on trial, his inner judge ordering him to tear down his wall and open himself to the outside world.

Demo version

In 2003, the entire band demo tape for the album leaked onto the Internet, featuring remarkably different versions of many songs, and a three-part version of "Is There Anybody Out There?". The differences include:

  • "In The Flesh (1)" has lyrics that are in the finished version of "In The Flesh (2)".
  • "The Happiest Days Of Our Lives" is slower, and focuses on one teacher, rather than all of them.
  • "Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)" is more like "Another Brick In The Wall (Part I)".
  • "Mother" is faster-paced.
  • "Young Lust" is entirely instrumental.
  • "One Of My Turns" features entirely different dialogue from the groupie, and is slower paced.
  • "What Shall We Do Now" is much slower paced than the version featured in the film.
  • "Is There Anybody Out There (Part I)" consists of the instrumental interlude featured in the finished version.
  • "Is There Anybody Out There (Part II)" features a previously unheard verse.
  • "Is There Anybody Out There (Part III)" is much more like the finished version, although mainly instrumental.
  • "Comfortably Numb" has almost entirely different lyrics which are much darker in tone.
  • "The Show Must Go On" features a previously unheard verse.
  • "In The Flesh (2)" features Roger Waters singing in a German accent.
  • "Run Like Hell" is entirely instrumental.

The rest of the tracks are basically the same as their finished counterparts, with perhaps a different lyric or riff here and there.

Recorded version

During recording, Richard Wright was fired from the band.

Around the world, the album produced a number of hit singles for Pink Floyd, including "The Happiest Days of Our Lives," "Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)," "Mother," "Empty Spaces," "Young Lust" and "Comfortably Numb."

Concert version

Pink Floyd performed the concert version of The Wall only a handful of times, in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Dortmund. This was due to the grandiosity of the performance, which involved constructing a giant wall across the stage between band and audience, not to mention staple Pink Floyd props such as giant screens, flying pigs and pyrotechnics.

The performances began with the band in full view, with the giant wall being constructed by roadies out of 420 cardboard bricks throughout the first half of the performance. In the second half, the band would be completely obscured from view behind the wall, but still playing, while extra parts were played in front of the wall by a "surrogate band" composed of Andy Brown on bass, Snowy White on guitar, Willie Wilson on drums and Peter Wood on keyboards. The surrogate band wore masks of the faces of their counterparts in the real band. While playing lead guitar on "Comfortably Numb", guitarist David Gilmour was hoisted hydraulically on to the top of the wall, where he played his famous guitar solo in full view of the crowd. The wall was eventually torn down during "The Trial", and Pink Floyd themselves joined the surrogate band in front of the wreckage of the wall to perform the finale, "Outside The Wall".

During the performance, giant puppets of the characters Teacher, Wife and Mother, designed by Gerald Scarfe, were used, and animations by Scarfe were projected onto a circular area and onto the wall itself. Added to this, a hotel room (where much of the story is set) emerges from the wall midway through the second half.

Missing image
A famous image from The Wall, the Marching Hammers.

The large stage shows required huge equipment (including full sized cranes), and cost an extraordinary amount of money to realize. As such, the band lost money from them, with the exception of Wright, who was retained on a fixed salary for the concerts.

The intent of the band for these concerts was to give the audience a truly theatrical experience instead of just a show where the band played the songs. As such, during many songs, Waters assumed the role of the anti-hero , "Pink", singing despondently from a hotel room (a set on the stage). To this day, these performances are considered some of the greatest rock concerts ever.

In 2000, the best performances from these concerts were compiled into a live version of the album called Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980-81. The release includes two tracks ("What Shall We Do Now," "The Last Few Bricks") left off the original release due to space constraints.

Film version

Main article: Pink Floyd The Wall (film)

A film version of The Wall was released in 1982 entitled Pink Floyd The Wall, directed by Alan Parker and starring Bob Geldof. The screenplay was written by Roger Waters. The film features music from the original album, much of which was re-recorded by the band with additional orchestration, some with minor lyrical and musical changes. It also includes a new song written especially for the film, "When The Tigers Broke Free".

Stage version

In 2004, it was announced that contracts had been signed for a Broadway musical version, with extra music to be written by Waters. The Broadway version will feature all of the music written by Waters. It is, however, unknown what will be done with the songs co-written by Gilmour (Young Lust, Comfortably Numb, and Run Like Hell). The show is estimated to be complete by mid 2005. Additionally, there are rumours that other Pink Floyd songs, possibly "Money" from the 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon, among others, will be included in the stage show.


After Waters left the band, a legal battle ensued over the rights to the name "Pink Floyd" and its material. Waters retained the right to use The Wall and its material, and his name has been most closely associated with the album. Waters staged a gigantic concert performance of The Wall in Berlin on 21 July 1990, with guest artists including The Band, Van Morrison, Sinéad O'Connor, Cyndi Lauper, The Scorpions, Jerry Hall, and Bryan Adams, to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall and as a fundraising effort for World War Memorial Fund for Disaster Relief.


For "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)", Pink Floyd needed a school choir, and approached music teacher Alun Renshaw of Islington Green, around the corner from their recording studio Britannia Row. Renshaw practiced the song with students and then clandestinely brought them. Though the school received a lump sum payment of 1000 GBP, there was no contractual arrangement for royalties. Under 1996 UK copyright law, they became eligible, and after choir members found each other through the website Friends Reunited, they sued. Music industry professionals estimated that each student would be owed around 500 GBP.

Track Listing (album version)

Disc one

  1. "In The Flesh? (3:16)"
  2. "The Thin Ice (2.27)"
  3. "Another Brick in the Wall (Part I) (3:21)"
  4. "The Happiest Days Of Our Lives (1:46)"
  5. "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II) (3:59)"
  6. "Mother (5:32)"
  7. "Goodbye Blue Sky (2:45)"
  8. "Empty Spaces (2:10)"
  9. "Young Lust (3:25)"
  10. "One Of My Turns (3:41)"
  11. "Don't Leave Me Now (4:08)"
  12. "Another Brick in the Wall (Part III) (1:48)"
  13. "Goodbye Cruel World (0:48)"

Disc two

  1. "Hey You (4:40)"
  2. "Is There Anybody Out There? (2:44)"
  3. "Nobody Home (3:26)"
  4. "Vera (1:35)"
  5. "Bring the Boys Back Home (1:21)"
  6. "Comfortably Numb (6:23)"
  7. "The Show Must Go On (1:36)"
  8. "In The Flesh (4:13)"
  9. "Run Like Hell (4:20)"
  10. "Waiting For The Worms (4:04)"
  11. "Stop (0:39)"
  12. "The Trial (5:13)"
  13. "Outside The Wall (1:41)"

Total length of album: 1 hour 29 minutes 29 seconds

Additional tracks from the film

  • "When the Tigers Broke Free" (Composed specifically for the movie--released on a vinyl single, Echoes Disc 2, Track 05 and on the 2004 re-release of The Final Cut)
  • "What Shall We Do Now?" (Extended version of "Empty Spaces" which was left off the original album due to lack of space, used in the wall-building sequence during the live show)

Tracks from the live concert

The live version of The Wall, Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980-81, included the following tracks not on the original album:

  • "What Shall We Do Now?" after "Empty Spaces"
  • "The Last Few Bricks" after "Another Brick In The Wall (Part III)"; usually a medley performed while the construction crew was finishing off the massive wall on stage

Tracks intended for use on the album, but not used

  • "Is There Anybody Out There (Part II)" features a previously unheard lyric, part of which was later worked into "Hey You"
  • "Your Possible Pasts" later re-written for use on The Final Cut
  • "One Of The Few" - working title, "Teach" - was later re-written for use on The Final Cut
  • "The Final Cut" also re-written for use on The Final Cut. A line from this song goes: Dial the combination / Open the priest-hole / And if I'm in, I'll tell you what's behind the wall. Sound effects were dubbed over "behind the wall" in the final version of the song, to sever its connection to the The Wall album. The complete lyrics are still written in the inside sleeve of the album.


"In 1980 when we finished in New York, Larry Maggid, a Philadelphia promoter [...] offered us a guaranteed million dollars a show plus expenses to go and do two dates at JFK Stadium with The Wall [...] and I wouldn't do it. I had to go through the whole story with the other members. I said, 'You've all read my explanations of what The Wall is about. It's three years since we did that last stadium and I swore then that I would never do one again. And The Wall is entirely sparked off by how awful that was and how I didn't feel that the public or the band or anyone got anything out of it that was worthwhile. And that's why we've produced this show strictly for arenas where everyone does get something out of it that is worthwhile. Blah-blah-blah. And, I ain't fuckin' going!'"
– Roger Waters, June 1987, to Chris Salewicz
"Maybe the architectural training to look at things helped me to visualise my feelings of alienation from rock 'n' roll audiences. Which was the starting point for The Wall. The fact that it then embodied an autobiographical narrative was kind of secondary to the main thing which was a theatrical statement in which I was saying, 'Isn't this fucking awful? Here I am up onstage and there you all are down there and isn't it horrible! What the fuck are we all doing here?'"
– Roger Waters, June 1987, to Chris Salewicz


  • "Another Brick in the Wall(pt.2)"/"One Of My Turns" - Columbia 1-11187; released January 8, 1980
  • "Run Like Hell"/"Don't Leave Me Now" - Columbia 1-11265; released April, 1980
  • "Comfortably Numb"/"Hey You" - Columbia 1-11311; released June, 1980


Album - Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1980 Pop Albums 1

Singles - Billboard (North America)

Year Single Chart Position
1980 "Another Brick in the Wall(Part Two)" Pop Singles 1


Grammy Awards

Year Winner Category
1980 The Wall Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical

External links

Template:Pink Floydde:The Wall es:The Wall fr:The Wall it:The Wall he:The Wall nl:The Wall pt:The wall fi:The Wall sv:The Wall tr:The Wall


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