Roger Waters has become increasingly disenfranchised by the music industry in recent years. However, his discontent with the business is no new thing, and he wrote a track for Pink Floyd on this very subject.
“I feel enormously privileged to have been born in 1943 and not 1983,” he explained in 2015 to The Times. “To have been around when there was a music business and the takeover by Silicon Valley hadn’t happened, and in consequence, you could still make a living writing and recording songs and playing them to people.”
Waters added: “When this gallery of rogues and thieves had not yet injected themselves between the people who aspire to be creative and their potential audience and steal every fucking cent anybody ever made.”
Although Waters is thankful to have been born when he was, even back then, he was unhappy with the mechanisms of the music industry and lambasted it in the Pink Floyd song ‘Have A Cigar’.
The track was written from the perspective of a label executive powered solely by greed. It featured on Wish You Were Here, which was Floyd’s follow-up to The Dark Side Of The Moon, and following the latter’s success, Waters began to see record label bosses in a whole new light.
Lines in ‘Have A Cigar’ include, “you’re gonna go far”, “I’ll tell you the name of the game”, and “you’re going to make it”, which are just a selection of some of the predatory cliches executives tell young bands who they are trying to persuade to sign their life away.
Hilariously, the track also features the lyrics: “By the way, which one’s Pink?” Back then, it was a common misconception that Pink Floyd was a person rather than a band, and it was a telltale sign of a fairweather fan.
Furthermore, ‘Have A Cigar’ is an anomaly in Pink Floyd’s back catalogue because it doesn’t feature Waters or David Gilmour on vocals. Waters had strained his voice from recording ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, and they decided to approach their friend, Roy Harper, who was working in the same studios.
Both Pink Floyd vocalists had tried to record their take, but neither felt right. As soon as they brought Harper into the fold, ‘Have A Cigar’ clicked into place.
Unfortunately for Harper, many people didn’t know he sang it until years later because it was buried in the small print. “It was a slow burner. It only became obvious in the last decade that this is the case. Too late for my own good, but I’m not bothered by that at all,” he admitted to Consequence.
Listen to Waters’ scathing attack on the music industry below.