There are a few moments in rock history that you can pinpoint a significant change of culture. For example, the landmark moment nearly half a million people made their way to Woodstock, or when the Sex Pistols made their infamous appearance on Bill Grundy’s Today show. But one moment that is often forgotten is Pink Floyd’s impeccable rock opera The Wall.
The album and film would become not only become an anthem for those fans of the band and rock music in general, but an everlasting reminder of the power of the people. Left in the hands of South Africa’s youth, ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ became a rallying cry against apartheid. The only reason the album was able to galvanise such an outpouring of humanity was that it connected itself via the heart. One such song on the record that did a fantastic – if understated – job was ‘Mother’. Below, we’re listening to the isolated vocals of the song to get a real sense of the track.
The Wall tells the arduous story of Pink, an alienated rock star who shares a lot of parallels with its creator Roger Waters. In that regard, Waters uses the song ‘Mother’ to exorcise his own issues. Pink’s mother is incredibly overprotective in the opera, having lost her husband, Pink’s father, in World War II. As Pink begins to build his wall and shut himself off from the outside world, his mother begins to help, believing it to be the only way to truly protect him.
The song is one of the band’s more open and honest tracks, allowing Pink’s story to unfurl and provide a connective moment for the audience. An overbearing mother is a common theme that many can relate to and the beauty of the song comes from this fragility and vulnerability. We, as an audience, are well aware that the conversation between Pink (vocals from Roger Waters) and his mother (vocals from David Gilmour) will not end well for Pink.
“Of course, Momma’s gonna help build the wall,” sings Gilmour, one of the most ambiguous threats you’ll hear on the record. Pink’s mother goes a few steps further and not only tries to keep Pink by her side at all times but tries to tie him to her forever, getting annoyed when he eventually grows older and finds love. It mirrors Waters’ own upbringing; he, too, lost his father to World War II at the age of only five months. It allows the poignancy of this song to really shine through.
Songs about artist’s mothers are no new thing. John Lennon’s perhaps most famous for his own track titled ‘Mother’ but, somehow, the Pink Floyd song feels more significant. That’s because it not only works as an emotional moment of recognition of the humanity of our parents but as a vital plot point in The Wall, allowing the audience to connect with Pink’s story and make it their own. Without this connection, the aforementioned powerful [political points would never have landed as effectively.
When you strip away the impressive instrumentation, we can hear the very beating heart of Roger Waters. Even when Gilmour is singing, we can still reach out and touch the emotion behind Waters’ songwriting.
Below, check out the remarkable isolated vocals for Pink Floyd song ‘Mother’.