Music Monday: Pink Floyd’s The Wall

I had never heard of Pink Floyd until I went to college. The radio stations I had frequented in high school tended toward soft rock and country crossovers, no hard rock and no “weird stuff.”

I can’t remember which one of my new friends introduced me to the well-known Pink Floyd album, Dark Side of the Moon. I do remember buying a cassette of it fairly soon after going to college, so it was probably one of the first people I met.

My friends had already seen The Wall, a movie derived from the extraordinary stage show of the same name that the group had produced in several large stadiums. But it was so expensive that they couldn’t take it on a long tour, so they made a movie instead. I went to see it by myself one day (I probably cut class to do so) and it made a tremendous impression on me. It tells the story of a young boy (Pink) whose trials as he grows up and becomes a rock star cause him to build a virtual wall between himself and the outside world, but of course, in the movie it is an actual wall. He is completely isolated and his mind turns to madness.

Some of the story is based on the real life of band member Roger Waters, whose father died in WWII just as Pink’s did, and other parts recall the descent into psychosis of early Pink Floyd member Syd Barrett. The movie combines live action with animated sequences and has a surreal, hallucinatory feel — some parts of it are actual hallucinations Pink has, triggered by some of his worst experiences. His pain and anger are so striking that the movie (for me at least) produces waves of intense emotion that seem to pass from the movie screen and over the audience, buffeting them with gale-force winds and irresistible storm surge.

I’m not sure how badly this movie shook me up emotionally, but I know it didn’t do me any good. I tried to talk about my feelings with my friends, but it didn’t affect them the way it did me, so they couldn’t understand what I was trying to say. Having a therapist would have been useful to me back then; I suspect that if I had been able to talk it over with a therapist, some aspects of my own life would have come to light.

Comfortably Numb is one of my favorite songs from the movie, but I rarely listen to it, considering the fact that it is so depressing. Mainly I use it as part of an entrainment playlist that helps me move from depression to a neutral or slightly light-hearted state, using music.This is a link to the song by itself on YouTube:
You can also find the video from the movie on YouTube, but I wouldn’t advise watching it. It’s pretty horrible.

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