Visitors to my web site often ask why I wrote my analysis, what turned me on to the Wall in the first place, and what makes me qualified to write a 100+ page explication of an album whose lyric sheet could easily be squeezed onto a single piece of standard 8.5 x 11 inch paper? (Runner-up personal questions: What other bands do I listen to? Do I think Pink Floyd is a great or the greatest band in the history of rock music? And who do I think would win in a fist fight, Roger Waters or David Gilmour? [Just kidding on that last one.]) So to those who care about such things, here ya go...my rather boring Wall story. To those who don't care...I don't blame you for clicking your way out of here!
As much as I wish I could claim to be a tried and true Floyd fan from the beginning with personal connections to the band that gave me a deep insight into the masterpiece that is the Wall...well, truth be told, I wasn't even born until 1979, the same year the album was released. Aside from the handful of tunes that played on classic rock radio, Pink Floyd didn't even enter my musical consciousness until 1996 or so. Knowing that I liked bands of the 60's and 70's - The Beatles, most especially - my guitar teacher recommended I check out an album called the Wall. He guaranteed that I'd love it, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Though I was a penniless high school student without a job, I managed to scrape together $30 for the double-CD, rushed home, popped it into my CD player and listened...
...and HATED it. I thought the album was a disjointed, incoherent mess with very, very few redeeming qualities - namely "Another Brick, Part 2," "Hey You" and "Comfortably Numb"...the songs classic rock radio DJs play ad nauseum. I didn't understand why anyone in their right mind would voluntarily listen to Roger Waters' discordant voice. And though I knew the album supposedly told a story, I hadn't the slightest idea who the main characters were or what the story was even about? War? Sex? Construction workers? Some guy who wants to shoot people with spots? If music stores took back opened CDs, I would have returned it immediately. But being that they don't, and reasoning that I might as well get my barely-had $30 worth out of it, I played it again. And again. And again.
By about the fourth or fifth listen over a few days, I was hooked. As a lifelong reader and someone who is naturally inclined to dissect the themes and symbols of a story, I began to tease out the connecting lyrical and musical threads of the songs and see how they fit within the overarching storyline. Soon after I rented a VHS of the 1982 movie and everything sort of fell into place.
In this pre-Wikipedia, pre-Google era of 28k modem connections, I was disappointed to find, or rather not find, a single web site offering even a brief narrative overview of this purportedly classic 70's rock masterpiece. There were lyric sheets a-plenty, but nothing that detailed what the songs meant and how they contributed to the overall story. I sought to change that in the final months of my senior year in high school. To my recollection, that first Wall analysis was put on the web in early 1997, was about 27 pages long, and mainly dealt with the basic plot of the album as visaulized by the movie. Many of the early interpretations were fairly spot on, especially considering my rather scant knowledge of Pink Floyd or World War II history. Some of the song analyses missed the mark by miles. (I originally assumed that "Vera Lynn" was the name of either Pink's wife or mother.) Despite its obvious flaws, the site was received well by the online Floyd community, remaining in that form for nearly four-and-a-half years.
It should come as no surprise to those who've read my site that I went on to major in English in college. After devoting four years of my collegiate life to explicating the works of everyone from John Keats to William Faulkner to James Joyce, I decided to revisit my original analysis and apply to the Wall some of the same literary criticism techniques I used for innumerable class papers and projects throughout college. What was supposed to be a general update turned into a complete rewrite delving into the album's major and minor themes, recurring symbols and various social and narrative implications and interpretations. That second Wall analysis of 2002 was received equally well and, from what I've been told, has been used as a guiding text by high school teachers and college professors teaching the Wall as modern poetry. (It was also illegally sold for a time on term paper web sites...which, I suppose, is a compliment to my analysis in its own way!)
In 2010, I decided to tweak the site's look just a little bit...and ended up re-writing / re-editing / re-configuring all of the song interpretations for a third and possibly final version of the analysis.
About those other questions mentioned above, Pink Floyd is (suprisingly) not my favorite band...that title unquestionably belongs to The Beatles. I am a huge fan of the Waters-era albums (Dark Side of the Moon through The Final Cut), but only own one of the albums post breakup. (I think David Gilmour is a brilliant guitarist and songwriter in his own right, but the latter "Floyd" albums really lack for the counterpoints that Waters brought to the mix. Kind of like how Paul McCartney's songs after the Beatles could have really used a good dose of John Lennon counterbalance.) As for other favorite bands, a by no-means complete list would include Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Iron & Wine, Wilco, Clem Snide, Sigur Ros...........