Pink Floyd on War

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When I was in high school I never gave Pink Floyd a chance because I associated it with the druggie crowd and figured you would have to be tripping to enjoy it. Later I listened to one of their albums and realized what unusual rock musicians they were. One of the first things that struck me was that they tended to avoid the typical odes to Eros that make up 90% of pop music. This led them to interesting topics that were rarely touched by other groups, and certainly rarely as effectively: personal alienation, the difficulty of communicating with each other, insanity, grief.

And war. Roger Waters lost his father to World War II when he was five months old. So war is a topic that comes up frequently in Pink Floyd lyrics: Many songs on The Final Cut most movingly the rare track “When the Tigers Broke Free” (originally in The Wall movie), “Bring the Boys Back Home” from The Wall, “The Dogs of War” from the post-Waters album A Momentary Lapse of Reason. But my favorite Pink Floyd lyrics on war, perhaps simply my favorite anti-war lyrics from anyone, are several simple verses from a song co-written by Richard Wright:

Us and Them (Waters, Wright) from Dark Side of the Moon

Us, and them.
And after all we’re only ordinary men.
Me, and you.
God only knows it’s not what we would choose to do.
Forward he cried from the rear
and the front rank died.
And the general sat and the lines on the map
moved from side to side.

10:32 am on September 16, 2008