Exploring Roger Waters' Lyrics Through Pink Floyd's Back Catalogue

Free Four (Obscured By Clouds)

Although Corporal Clegg from 1968 was the first time Waters’ father’s World War II career and passing was referred to obliquely, this seemingly cheery, on-the-road number was the first to deal with it seriously.

Money (The Dark Side Of The Moon)

One of the factors that fed into his mood recording Wish You Were Here was Waters’ disillusionment at his burgeoning wealth clashing with his staunch socialist principles. This rail against the trappings of high finance was misunderstood by swathes of the group’s newly found audience, who clearly thought riches were a good thing. Their reaction formed the basis of virtually everything Waters was to subsequently record.

Pigs (Animals)

On an album that railed against everything, Pigs (Three Different Ones) looked at figures representing all the worst elements of the establishment; the ‘dragged down by the stone’ businessman from Dogs reappears; a ‘ratbag’ that Waters had spotted at a bus stop near the band’s Britannia Row Studios, who may or may not be Margaret Thatcher, the then-leader of the opposition Conservative Party; and finally, the unloved moral watchdog Mary Whitehouse, the head of the National Viewers and Listeners’ Association.

The Happiest Days Of Our Lives (The Wall)

Although almost any track could be selected from Waters’ two final Pink Floyd albums, the first anti-school song on The Wall is one of Waters’ most manic, heartfelt performances. Inspired by his time at Cambridge High School For Boys, Waters spat bile at the teachers, who had treated him shabbily at a period in his life when he desperately needed a father figure. Waters’ schoolmaster impression was heavily copied in playgrounds around the country in the early 80s.

The Hero’s Return (The Final Cut)

The burning anger and sadness of The Final Cut makes it one of the most fascinating Pink Floyd albums, and one that when properly rediscovered, gives untold pleasure. Nonetheless, it is a certainly difficult listen: The Hero’s Return, written first as Teacher, Teacher for The Wall goes some way to explain the reasons for the bitterness behind the schoolmaster from The Happiest Days Of Our Lives.

Daryl Easlea

Daryl Easlea has contributed to Prog since its first edition, and has written cover features on Pink Floyd, Genesis, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel and Gentle Giant. After 20 years in music retail, when Daryl worked full-time at Record Collector, his broad tastes and knowledge led to him being deemed a ‘generalist.’ DJ, compere, and consultant to record companies, his books explore prog, populist African-American music and pop eccentrics. Currently writing Whatever Happened To Slade?, Daryl broadcasts Easlea Like A Sunday Morning on Ship Full Of Bombs, can be seen on Channel 5 talking about pop and hosts the M Means Music podcast.