Pink Floyd: Goodbye Blue Sky
BOB EZRIN Roger invited me down [to England] for the weekend. He sat me in a room and proceeded to play a tape of music all strung together—almost like one song 90 minutes long—called The Wall, then some other bits and bobs of ideas that resurfaced later on some of his solo work. It wasn’t in anything like the final form, but that “We don’t need no education” verse [from “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II”] stayed with me for months after just hearing it once. And “Mother” just blew me away. I knew after listening to the music that this was going to be an important work and that it was going to take a lot to pull it into something cohesive.
ROGER WATERS I could see it was going to be a complex process, and I needed a collaborator who I could talk to. I needed someone like Ezrin who was musically and intellectually in a similar place to where I was.
DAVID GILMOUR We never made plans immediately after finishing a project to get together and start the next thing. We always took a little bit of time off. When we did meet up again in a studio in London [after the Animals tour], Roger had the idea that he wanted to make one of the two projects that he had been working on at his own studio. He came in with two fairly well formed ideas: one was The Wall and one was what eventually became his first solo album. Between us, we decided that The Wall would be the one that we would start working on when we reconvened.
NICK MASON Roger’s demo tapes were very poor quality, but it was immediately clear that it was an interesting idea that could be developed musically.
RICK WRIGHT There were always things about it where I thought, Oh no, here we go again: it’s all about the war, about his mother, about his father being lost. I’d hoped he could get through all this and eventually he could deal with other stuff. Every song was written in the same tempo, same key, same everything.
At that time we were, in theory, bankrupt. Our accountants had lost our money, we owed huge amounts of tax, and we were told we must go away for a year and make an album to try to repay the tax we owed. Possibly, if we were not in this financial situation we might have said, We don’t like these songs. But Roger had this material, Dave and I didn’t have any, so [we figured] we’ll do it.
GILMOUR I thought it was a very good concept at the time. I don’t like it quite as much now. With the benefit of hindsight I found it a bit [whiney]. But I was willing to let Roger have full reign of his vision.
In an all-night session, Ezrin plowed through Roger Waters’ tapes to get a rough idea of how the songs could be composed into a complete concept.
EZRIN What I did that night was write a script for an imaginary Wall movie. I organized all the pieces of music we had, and some we didn’t, plus sound effects and cross-fades [fading out one song while simultaneously fading another], into a cohesive tale. I felt who the central character was and I came to the conclusion that we needed to take it out of the literal first person and put it into the figurative [via the character Pink]. I came in the next day with a script, handed it out to everybody, and we did a table read. It was a whole other way of doing things when you’re making music, but it really helped to crystallize the work. From that point on we were no longer fishing but building to a plan.
WATERS The basic shape of it didn’t change. Some songs changed a lot, others—“Don’t Leave Me Now,” “Is There Anybody Out There?” “Mother”—are almost exactly as they were.
EZRIN Once we got out of Roger’s house and into the studio, it was very much a collaborative effort. Often we’d have these bash-’em-ups that would go on for weeks. As they’re English and I’m Canadian we were very gentlemanly about it, but no one would budge.
GILMOUR Someone would say, “I don’t like that one very much,” someone else might agree, and then Roger would look all sulky, and the next day he’d come back in with something brilliant. He was very good about that during The Wall. Some of the songs—I remember “Nobody Home”—came along when we were well into the thing and he’d gone off in a sulk the night before and came in the next day with something fantastic.
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