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"Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2" isn't your typical Pink Floyd song. This is a band who believed their music should be listened to, not danced to, and yet we get a catchy disco beat. The members prided themselves on the cerebral nature of their art, but the kids' choir in the second half of the song is a bit gimmicky. How'd that happen?
It turns out that the band's producer, who was scheming for a marketable single, played a large role in the making of "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2." The band ended up approving the song, but it took 'em a while to come around.
Lo and behold, "Another Brick in the Wall" became the band's only #1 hit, and it remains one of their most recognizable songs. On top of that, it may be their most important. Most Pink Floyd fans would disagree with you there, citing one of a dozen other more complex and esoteric pieces as better art. But while it may not be on top of the "true fan's" playlist, "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2" did play its way into history. Specifically, into the resistance to education as "thought control" in apartheid-era South Africa.
How did a song that started out as a mere 1-minute transition between two other ones end up doing that? You're about to find out, Floydians.
|Label||Harvest (UK), Columbia (U.S.)|
|Producer(s)||Bob Ezrin, David Gilmour, James Guthrie, and Roger Waters|
|Musician(s)||Roger Waters (bass guitar, back-up vocals), David Gilmour (lead vocals, guitar), Nick Mason (drums), Richard Wright (Hammond organ), Islington Green School student choir (vocals)|
|Learn to play||Tablature|
Mark Blake, Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd (2008)
This is probably the best book on Pink Floyd. Blake takes a fairly typical approach in this band history/biography, but it's well researched, well written, and comprehensive in following the band from its beginnings through 2007.
Gerald Scarfe, The Making of Pink Floyd: The Wall (2010)
This book's focus is as narrow as the title suggests. And Scarfe is a cartoonist, not a writer. But if you are interested in the album and the film that followed, you'll enjoy this book produced by one of the film's directors.
The Wall (1979)
This is another dark concept album, this time exploring the forces that drive people into isolation. Rooted in Roger Waters' own life and disgust with many of his own fans, the album includes the three-part "Another Brick in the Wall."
Wish You Were Here (1975)
Dedicated to Syd Barrett, the creative force behind the band until mental illness forced him to leave, the album contains the unusually accessible title song and a moving tribute to Barrett, "Shine on You Crazy Diamond."
Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
Musically and technically complex, the album is not for the light listener. Thematically pretty dark in its exploration of some of the themes, such as alienation, which will be pushed further in The Wall, the album is not party music. But it hung around the Billboard 200 for fifteen years—longer than any other album in history—and is #43 on Rolling Stone's list of greatest albums.
From left to right: Nick Mason, David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Rick Wright.
South African Martyr
Thirteen year old Soweto student Hector Pieterson after being shot by the police.
The Wall (1982)
Roger Waters wrote the screenplay for this 1982 film adaptation of the album/rock opera. Mixing live action and animation, the film tells the story of Pink and the metaphorical wall behind which he progressively isolates himself. The reviews were generally not great; most found it visually overwhelming. But the film had a few fans, even one old guy: Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert.
Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii (1974)
There are plenty of Pink Floyd concert films but this may be the best. The ruins provide a powerful setting for the band just before it hits it mega-stride with Dark Side of the Moon. But stick to the original—avoid the Director's cut.
The offish website has lots of merchandise, but also good biographies and a news archive.
Pink Floyd Online
A comprehensive fansite with everything from guitar chords to an interview archive to a band history timeline.
The Studio Version
Here's the studio version's music video.