Personal

Let’s all go an a Pink Floyd odyssey

Waters still runs deep as I go on a voyage of rediscovery

I’ve been on a Pink Floyd buzz recently.

YouTube is like that … you play one song and the predictive playlist does the rest. Pretty soon you are on an odyssey, as my friend Tom and I would call it.

When Tom and I would go on one of our magical musical benders, there would be some wine involved. A heavy old clink in the refuse sack the next morning amount of wine.

Before we had kids, of course.

The first time it just happened.

We were neighbours and friends.

The Rioja was being guzzled almost by the neck as we swayed into the wee small hours, the music on my stereo that started the evening in background mode, now front, left and centre in the living room, loud and loose like the pair of us dancing fools.

Tom and I were all waving arms and flailing elbows as we hastened to the machine to play another of those songs to each other that meant so much.

It was an intense yet life-affirming musical journey … the soundtrack to our lives and all that, but it was also maybe our blokey way of accessing and sharing in the beauty that was still in the world. Despite everything.

He’d say The Smiths’ How Soon Is Now, and I would respond with Grandaddy’s The Group Who Couldn’t Say.

Oh how we laughed as we lurched through those songs and the accompanying stories of triumphs and almost triumphs, and, more often, hilarious failures.

That first time was spontaneous, and by the time we staggered off to our cribs, we were emotionally spent, blissfully drunk on wine and life.

Well worth the hangover. Eventually.

We christened the experience The Odyssey.

So we’d do it again, every so often, and it would get better and better as the night wore on, inhibitions going down as the alcohol intake went up.

It was like our musical heroes were saying and playing the really important things we could not express to ourselves, or others. Or at least not as well as John Cale’s rising organ swirl that is the high point for me of Nick Drake’s already ecstatic Northern Sky.

The Floyd would be prime odyssey material for me.

Like those remembered prayers from childhood that lapsed Catholic me can still cite at the occasional funeral or wedding mass, I bet I would still mouth nearly every syllable of Welcome To The Machine from Wish You Were Here, or The Thin Ice, from The Wall:

“Momma loves her baby
And daddy loves you too.
And the sea may look warm to you babe
And the sky may look blue
But ooooh Baby
Ooooh baby blue
Oooooh babe .…”

Like in the best groups, there is a tension between the bigger personalities in The Floyd, and a subtle play of contrasts that shapes their finest work.

Like when Roger Waters’ nasal verse ruminations in Comfortably Numb, from The Wall, give way to the silken sonic soar of Dave Gilmour’s chorus.

“There is no pain you are receding ….”

Such bliss is mine!

Maybe Waters’ grim lyrical take on things resonated with me more as a young man, always questioning things, but I also loved the fact that, rich and successful as he was, he was not afraid to express in that crafted naive way the despair at the heart of “modern life”.

On went my YouTube odyssey, and before I knew it I was listening to Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety.

Oh how up it was to be down, as the strange beauty of this aural journey unfolded.

I sat transfixed as Waters’  words of alienation, conflict, greed, time and the melodramatic madness of sad Syd Barrett were transfigured by Rick Wright’s synthesised loops and swoops, and those disembodied voices talking as Gilmour’s spectacular guitar wailings strained at the mooring certainty of Waters’ bass and Nick Mason’s drums.

I can still remember my slightly older cousin singing all of Brain Damage, from Dark Side, in the back seat of our car. I was maybe 12 and hooked.

Magnifique, as we say in Tipperary.

But the high point of my Floyd wig out was a clip from the otherwise best forgotten Pink Floyd: The Wall movie, featuring a young Bob Geldof.

It’s an early scene in the movie, drawn from Roger Waters’ life.

The song accompanying it, When The Tigers Broke Free, did not appear on the original album. Too personal, I read later.

Waters was just five months old when his father, Lt Eric Fletcher Waters, died aged 31 during fighting between Allied and German forces at Anzio in early 1944. 

waters baby
Eric Fletcher Waters and family. That’s Roger on his Mom’s knee. Check out older Pink Floyd photos and note how much Roger Waters resembles his Mom!

In the movie scene we see dapper Lt Waters lighting his oil lamp in his billet, then igniting  and smoking a ruminative cigarette as the bombs of war rumble overhead.

He loads his revolver and fastidiously prepares for what we learn would be his last day on earth.

We see his cigarette pack, cache of bullets, open razor and other familiar objects spread out on his table as he stands before a mirror and adjusts his pristine officer’s hat.

We cut to a young Waters running home across a rugby field from school and eventually discovering these same objects and his Dad’s hat in a bottom drawer in his Mom’s bedroom, “hidden way”, as he sings it.

His young head is lost in his father’s hat as he too looks into the mirror and adjusts it.

The song itself is spine-shivering, my defences in shreds as I succumbed to the wail of the still anguished Roger Waters as he berated the powers that sent out his Daddy to his death.

“There was frost in the ground

When the tigers broke free

And no one survived

From the Royal Fusiliers Company Z

They were all left behind

Most of them dead

The rest of them dying

And that’s how the High Command

Took my Daddy from me”

His father’s death, and the fact they never located his body, marked Roger Waters forever.

He was only finally brought to the place where his father was killed in 2013, and he spoke then of the impact it all had on him.

“I was very angry. It took me years to come to terms with it. Because he was missing in action, presumed killed, until quite recently I expected him to come home. The sacrifice of his life has been a great gift and a great burden to me.”

And so my latest odyssey comes to an end.

How about your’s?

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51 comments on “Let’s all go an a Pink Floyd odyssey

  1. I’ve never known that much about Pink Floyd. Interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Isn’t it wonderful when you can get lost in the music, using it as a conversation and a chance to reminisce. It’s also interesting to learn how those songs came about, the meaning behind them, and the emotions put into them by their writers. We have about 20 music documentaries recorded on our TV box, which are great, but I do miss the musical nights with friends. I think the last one was about 10 years ago and featured a lot of MeatLoaf.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really is Anne … and I have my own associations around Meat Loaf also… but that’s a bat out of hell of an odyssey for another day!!

      Like

  3. Tracey Abrahams

    I’ve never really been into Pink Floyd, but I do love to do a musical mystery trip on You Tube every now and again. Mr A and I take turns to chose a song, each one inspired by the previous one. We recall songs that we possibly havnt listened to in decades 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Only recently got to know them, this helps. Good stuff as usual!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I didn’t know anything about Pink Floyd other than the record cover my mum had! Every day is a school day! #triumphanttales

    Like

  6. You’ve educated me on things Floyd! #globalblogging xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Check out the music, Lisa … there’s lots to choose from!

    Like

  8. Very interesting. Thanks for all the knowledge. #TriumphantTales

    Liked by 1 person

  9. thank you for your well written of Pink Floyd.
    have a great day

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I may need to ask spotify to Pink Floyd me up tonight, so I can better imagine you in this post! #dreamteam

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Back with a Floydian slip, from #triumphanttales xo

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I knew nothing about Pink Floyd until reading this – thanks for broadening my horizons! Lots of music and wine sounds like an impeccable way to spend an evening. #itsOK

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Karen Dennis

    I don’t spend much time on you tube, maybe I should #blogginggoodtime@_karendennis

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ah now that was quite an odyessy Enda. I’m not immune to listening to Pink Ffloyd and love Comfortably Numb. What a tune. As I write this, however, I am listening to the Prodigy. the music I listened to in my youth and tunes I hadn’t listened to for some time until the news of Keith Flint’s death was announced the other day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi John, Very sad to hear about Keith Flint’s death. Beware, these odysseys are addictive! Don’t know if you read any of the comments accompanying my piece but a great line there from a woman who went to school with Dave Gilmour’s daughter, and how he would have his shades on throughout his daughter’s school shows. At least he showed up. Can’t imagine Keith Richard sitting through an out of tune Frozen for the umpteenth time!

      Like

  15. Tracey Carr

    Oh I often go away on a musical odyssey myself. I have a pair of noise-cancelling headphones (best present my husband ever gave me) and I will head off for a long walk in the evening, just me, the music and my headphones. I was never a huge Pink Floyd fan, though I do appreciate them (it’s more my hubby’s territory). I am more inclined to go off listening to the likes of Joni Mitchell or John Lennon but it depends on the mood really doesn’t it? There’s nothing like a bit of musical escapism though! #triumphanttales

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I didn’t know any of that! Sad about the dad. #ABloggingGoodTime

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m going to be honest, although I’ve heard of Pink Floyd, I know nothing about them! Thanks for joining in with #ThatFridayLinky

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Oooh I love a bit of Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb being one of my absolute faves! Great to hear about another person’s Odyssey – I love these sorts of nights – they played a big part of my formative years. It’s funny how someone else’s lyrics can have such intense meaning to us and convey what we can’t find the words for ourselves. Thanks for linking up with #ItsOK

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kate … thy are brilliant nights, no doubt: just a pity about the next morning!!! Still worth it though …

      Like

  19. I’ve never really been big on Floyd, but I love the sound of that song – it sounds like a very emotional song
    Debbie
    #thatfridaylinky

    Liked by 1 person

  20. What an education! Thanks Enda #ItsOK

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Off to listen to Brain Damage now, very much the soundtrack of my youth!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wonder we’re not all brain damaged listening (half-listening) to all the Brexit stuff recently!!!😵😠😀

      Like

  22. Love the idea of a musical odyssey. This sounds like a great way to spend an evening! #DreamTeam

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I am ashamed to admit I know nothing about Pink Floyd or their music but these lyrics about Roger’s dad are haunting and devastating. Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Music is so powerful and has had a massive impact on my life, it’s there at every part of your life both happy and sad and can be so expressive. The dark side of the moon is a classic so no wonder why you’ve had many nights listening to it!
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Here’s a fact for you: Dave Gilmour from Pink Floyd is building a house just up the road from us – it’s on the site of an old Victorian bath house & is going to be HUGE when it’s finished – I walk past it every day & I’ve been watching construction with interest! #DreamTeam

    Liked by 1 person

  26. mackenzieglanville

    Of course I have heard Pink Floyd, you’d have to have lived under a rock to have not, or at least have heard some of the songs, but I didn’t really know much and this was truly interesting, what a sad way to loose your father and be left wondering would he come back. I love music, I could not live life and never hear it or sing. Great post! #AbloggingGoodTime

    Liked by 1 person

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