Data Management Blog: An overdue apology to Pink Floyd's Roger Waters


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An overdue apology to Pink Floyd's Roger Waters

When Roger Waters left Pink Floyd, sides were drawn.  I was a huge admirer of David Gilmour's playing.  He had the ability to transform, transport, and transcend via auditory travels.  His hypnotic playing had captured me for a long time.  And I'd moved with him and the band.
I'd also been admiring of the lyrical prowess of the band.  Interestingly most attributable to Roger Waters.  But as Waters and Gilmour split their working relationship, I chose my sides according to my musical muse.  Gilmour was the shaman and he was still in the band called Pink Floyd.  Anyone leaving the band must have been the problem.  Well, there was no need for the jury to retire.  Waters was guilty and hence the band was "saved" by his exit.  Judgment passed and all was again well in the land.
But a nagging disconnect existed.  My admiration of the written, lyrical word was always strong and only continued to grow over the years.  The lyrics that I most loved in Pink Floyd's music were mostly written by Waters.  How could I disavow the contribution of the lyrical poet?  Like a pebble in my shoe, I walked on in my life with uncomfortable steps not knowing how to accept this disconnection.  Each step accumulating its nagging bite.
Specifically, I can talk of the pinnacle of Pink's work, The Wall.  (While I worship at the altar of numerous works by the band, one has to admit that this is the seminal work they produced.)  An anthem for the young male psyche, its words and music match and meld.  And the movie added yet another infallibility to the work of art.  There is neither an imperfect sound nor word in the piece, I held.  I knew every eighth note and syllable.  And I knew each small difference between what was on the record (vinyl at first) and what was in the movie.
So given the esteem with which I had elevated this combination of word, note, and image, how could I disavow its most responsible architect?  The pebble grew into a thorn.
Fast forward to 1990.  The Berlin Wall had recently come down and Roger Waters was producing a concert in Berlin performing The Wall.  While admittedly historic, I had chosen my path long ago and I was not open to receive it.  It wasn't Pink Floyd, it was Roger Waters.  It wasn't David Gilmour, Richard Wright and Nick Mason.   So it must be imperfect.  I did not watch it nor get the CD or DVD of the performance.  Out of a sense of loyalty I believed.
But an impostor? ... the man most responsible for the work?  The thorn had been affecting my reasoning.
Forward again to 2011.  I was invited to a friend's house to partake in beer and The Wall movie.  I'd lost count as to how many times I'd seen it.  Dozens for sure.  But this time was different.  After the movie, my friend talked about the Berlin show and put the DVD into the player.  Skeptically, I placated him by sitting through a taste, believing it couldn't be the perfection I'd known for so long.  I only saw a portion, but took it home to view in full, which I did the next week.
The DVD shined the brightest light on my aching foot.  Each song.  The show.  The performance.  It was all amazing.  It repeatedly brought chills to my skin.  I am after all a history major, and the significance of this piece at the Berlin Wall in 1990 was another window into this work.  Inspired casting (i.e. Thomas Dolby as the Professor).  It was ... well ... outstanding.  How can this be?  Waters was supposed to be the problem.  And yet, this show was incredible.  Had "I" been guilty all this time?  This will not do.
I finally removed the obstruction and opened up to a new ending to the story.  Pink's story.  Waters really is an architect of The Wall's greatness.  He isn't an impostor or the problem.  He is as worthy as Gilmour to the immortal legacy of Pink Floyd's music.  (Not just The Wall, but all of it.)
And so I offer Roger Waters a heart felt and belated apology.  An apology for eschewing your work and contributions all these intervening years.  An apology for judging.  And for letting that judgment interfere with the appreciation of your wonderful art.  The art that has touched my life and made me feel like few other things.  I hereby apologize.
The bleeding hearts and artists make their stand.
© Copyright Paul Kiel.