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“Empty Spaces” (album version)

What shall we use
To fill the empty spaces
Where we used to talk?
How shall I fill the final places?
How shall I complete the Wall?

“What Shall We Do Now?”

What shall we use
To fill the empty spaces
Where waves of hunger gnaw
Shall we set out
Across this sea of faces
In search of more and more applause?

Shall we buy a new guitar?
Shall we drive a more powerful car?
Shall we work straight through the night?
Shall we get into fights?
Leave the lights on?
Drop bombs?
Do tours of the East?
Contract diseases?
Bury bones?
Break up homes?
Send flowers by phone?
Take to drink?
Go to shrinks?
Give up meat?
Rarely sleep?
Keep people as pets?
Train dogs?
Race rats?
Fill the attic with cash?
Bury treasure?
Store up leisure?
But never relax at all
With our backs to the wall

My personal feeling is that the latter version, which occurs in the film and live performances, was meant to be the definitive version as it more directly relates to Pink’s story (and to Roger Waters’s experience).  The song was cut down due to the time limitations imposed by the vinyl album format.

The song begins with a lead guitarriff playing another variation of the Wall motif (described in earlier posts) over a white noise ostinato Waters sings the “Empty Spaces” lines in each version with the Wall motif as a melody.  On the album the song ends abruptly, transitioning into the next track.  The film and live versions transition into “Where Shall We Go Now?” which begins with sets of three eight note power chords in the Wall motif (E-E-E- F#-F#-F#-G-G-G-F#-F#-F).  The rest of the song is played over alternating A and E power chords.

Both versions of the song use rhyme to impart structure.   The “Empty Spaces” rhyme alternating lines (spaces/places; talk/Wall; spaces/faces; gnaw/applause).
“What Shall We Do Now?” is a collapsing series of questions, rhyming generally in pairs (guitar/car; night/fight/lights; on/bombs; East/diseases; bones/homes/phone; drink/shrinks; meat/sleep; pets/rats/cash; treasure/leisure; all/Wall).  The structure of a series of questions has been compared to Allen Ginsburg’s diatribe on Moloch in “Howl.”  (Waters also used this technique to powerful effect at the end of “Dogs” from the Animals album.)

At this point, Pink has isolated himself but not completely.  He looks for whatever he can find to distract himself from his pain and loneliness- materialism, sex, workaholism, and so on.

I note that the plural “we” is used rather than the singular “I” here.  I don’t have a good explanation for this.  Who is “we” and why does Pink refer to himself in the plural?

I have to add that while Gerald Scarfe’s animation (seen in the video) is perhaps in keeping with Pink’s mental state, I find it distasteful and offensive due to its blatant misogyny.  I don’t feel this is an edorsement of or reflection of misogyny on the part of Roger Waters- any more than The Wall endorses Nazi ideology.

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