Pink Floyd: Goodbye Blue Sky
WATERS What happened is Dave gave me a chord sequence, so if you wanted to fight about it I could say that I wrote the melody and the lyrics, obviously. I think in the choruses he actually hummed a bit of the melody, but in the verses he certainly didn’t. That’s never been a problem for me; I think it’s a great chord sequence. Why are we talking about this? Arguing about who did what at this point is kind of futile.
GILMOUR Roger and I had a good working relationship. We argued a lot, sometimes heatedly—artistic disagreements, not an ego thing. But overall we were still achieving things that were valid. Things like “Comfortably Numb” are really the last embers of Roger and my ability to work collaboratively together—my music, his words. I gave Roger the bits of music, he wrote some words, he came in and said, “I want to sing this line here. Can we extend this by so many bars so I can do that?” So I said, “Okay, I’ll put something in there.”
We went to L.A. with two versions. We recorded one backing track, just the drums basically, which Roger and Bob liked a lot, but I felt was a bit loose in places, so we did another take which I liked better. And we had quite a large row about which of these two versions we should use. In the end we used bits of both, and I’m not at all sure if you played me one of those backing tracks and then the other one I’d know the difference now. But it seemed incredibly important at the time.
“Comfortably Numb” became a central song within The Wall and proved to be one of the band’s greatest hits. “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)” was yet another masterpiece, and remains to this day, like “Comfortably Numb,” a staple of rock radio. At the time of its creation, however, the band members weren’t enamored of Ezrin’s request to give the song a “disco” dance vibe.
WATERS On the demo I made [of “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)”] it was just me singing to an acoustic guitar.
GILMOUR It wasn’t my idea to do disco music, it was Bob’s. He said to me, “Go to a couple of clubs and listen to what’s happening with disco music,” so I forced myself out and listened to loud, four-to-the-bar bass drums and stuff and thought, Gawd, awful! Then we went back and tried to turn one of the “Another Brick in the Wall” parts into one of those so it would be catchy. We did the same exercise on “Run Like Hell.”
EZRIN The most important thing I did for the song was to insist that it be more than just one verse and one chorus long, which it was when Roger wrote it. When we played it with the disco drumbeat I said, “Man, this is a hit! But it’s one minute 20. We need two verses and two choruses.” And they said, “Well, you’re not bloody getting them. We don’t do singles, so fuck you.” So I said, “Okay fine,” and they left. And because of our two-[tape recorder] setup, while they weren’t around we were able to copy the first verse and chorus, take one of the drum fills, put them in between and extend the chorus.
Then the question is what do you do with the second verse, which is the same? And having been the guy who made [Alice Cooper’s] “School’s Out,” I’ve got this thing about kids on record, and it is about kids after all. [“School’s Out” also features a children’s chorus.] So while we were in America, we sent [engineer] Nick Griffi ths to a school near the Floyd studios [in Islington, North London]. I said, “Give me 24 tracks of kids singing this thing. I want Cockney, I want posh, fill ’em up,” and I put them on the song. I called Roger into the room, and when the kids came in on the second verse there was a total softening of his face, and you just knew that he knew it was going to be an important record.
WATERS It was great—exactly the thing I expected from a collaborator.
GILMOUR And it doesn’t, in the end, not sound like Pink Floyd.
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