What I said back then:
You know, all in all, Hazlehead Academy wasn’t such a bad place. We all have to go to school somewhere, after all. We didn’t have common rooms, we had Year Areas, but they are much the same the world over – a place to hang out at break times and form cliques and gangs; a place to swap music. Swapping music was big then – battered old cassette tapes doing the rounds, with all sorts of things on them. The ‘Dark Side of the Moon‘ tape was mine; the ‘Wish you were Here‘ may have been Scott Murray’s (although he might deny it now). It’s hard to explain just what it was that spoke to us so strongly – what did we know about ‘hanging on in quiet desperation’? I remember spending an entire Sunday afternoon trying to transcribe the lyrics to ‘Wish…’ by ear – going over and over the same snippets trying to work out just what was being said, driving the household up the wall. There were endless debates about the sound effects; what did they mean, what were they made of; what were the spoken extracts? It was claimed that some fathers swiped their sons’ copies to show off their new stereo systems to the neighbours (‘you should hear the stereo separation on this…’); and there were the endless rumours.
Animals had been something of a disappointment (although I retain a sneaking regard for it as a much more concise picture of the times than so much ‘political’ stuff of the time), and the next one had taken – believe it or not – two whole years to make. The excitement was staggeringly disproportionate to the actual event. For weeks, there had been talk of triple albums, of orchestral works, of the band having split and only Roger Waters being left (closer to the truth than we realised), and everyone agog at there actually being a single, and the British public actually buying it in vast numbers. And when it was finally delivered, via a trip into town after school, so I could buy it on the release date, it actually did live up to the hype. Well, it did if you were the right age. I have listened to ‘The Wall’ recently, and parts of it stand up pretty well, while some of it is overblown hysteria; but it was exactly what I wanted at the time. It also contained several parts which I managed to learn to play on my guitar; anybody want to hear the arpeggio from ‘Is there anybody out there?‘?
What I think now:
Wow. Either I did this one in a hurry, or I hadn’t yet solidified my ‘4 Pink Floyds’ theory, because I’m sure I would have mentioned it. (Oh, you know; there have been four entirely separate bands called ‘Pink Floyd’ – Syd Barrett’s band; Pink Floyd; Roger Waters’ band and Dave Gilmour’s band) I actually think more of ‘Animals’ now than I did then, and I’ve waxed and waned with regard to ‘The Wall’, although I underplayed exactly how much it meant to me at the time – adolescence is a tricky time, and I know I was supposed to like noisy stuff played by people with spiky hair and safety pins in their faces (and I did like that, too) but ‘The Wall’ just connected with the 17-year-old me in a truly profound way. Or so I thought at the time. It didn’t change my life, but I sure thought it had.
Odd one, this. I’ve probably listened to more Pink Floyd in the last ten years than I did in the whole of the previous 20. I gravitate towards all eras of Floyd (although I like the Gilmour stuff less and less the more I hear it – it’s strangely insubstantial, even if the chorus of ‘High Hopes’ is a great tune). I read Nick Mason’s book on a much delayed and extended overnight flight from Vancouver to Glasgow. I was hugely tired, and taking extra strength Tylenol for (I think) toothache – probably just about the perfect state of mind to read about all that stuff going on (not as visceral as the time I read ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ in one sitting whilst hungover; but that’s not a musical memory). I also re-evaluated ‘The Final Cut’, which isn’t really a Pink Floyd album, but might just be the best of that Roger Waters-period stuff.
Oh, and Live 8 happened, and whatever the motivations of those involved, it truly did feel like something special, and I’m glad I saw it.
Yes, it may be overblown and terribly noodly in places, but after all this time, I like Pink Floyd.