Al Filreis, Another Brick In The Wall, Anzio, Axis, Battle of Britain, criticism, Eric Fletcher Waters, Kelly Writers House, Luftwaffe, music, Nazi Germany, Pink Floyd, RAF, Roger Waters, Royal Fusiliers, The Wall, World War II
Daddy’s flown across the ocean
Leaving just a memory
A snapshot in the family album
What else did you leave for me?
Daddy, what’d you leave behind for me?
All in all, it was just a brick in the wall
All in all, it was all just bricks in the wall
This song is in a moderate 4/4, about 80 beats/minute- a shift from the previous two songs. A strong D tonal center (probably D Dorian) is established by a simple pedal D guitar ostinato (eighth-sixthteenth-sixteenth-eigth-sixteenth-sixteenth), up a fourth from the tonality of the previous songs, contributing to tension buildup. The guitar has heavy delay effects applied to it, creating a sense of three-dimensional space. The melody is a clear statement of the “Wall” motif, first introduced subtly in “In The Flesh?”, transposed down a whole step to D Dorian. The rhyme scheme is XAXAA, with a repetition of the final line.
World War II began in Europe on September 1, 1939 when the Wehrmacht invaded Poland. In short order most of continental Europe came under control of the Nazis and their allies. France was the last to fall in 1940.
Following the capitulation of France, in the summer of 1940, Hitler set his sights on Britain. The Luftwaffe began air attacks over England in an attempt to gain air superiority in preparation for invasion. German bombs rained down over England with terribly destructive and traumatic fury. (John Lennon was said to have been born under a German air raid). Americans were shocked listening to the rooftop radio reporting of Edward R. Murrow, but America would not enter the war until the following year, after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Roger Waters’s father, Eric Fletcher Waters, was in the British Army as a member of the Royal Fusiliers and was sent to Italy, where he was killed in action at Anzio in 1943. His body was never found.
Here we don’t directly learn how Pink’s father died- just that he “flew across the ocean, leaving just a memory.” Later (“Bring The Boys Back Home”) we get a clearer implication that Pink’s father was killed in action.
We see perhaps Pink as a boy with his mother and a photo album, her showing him a picture of his father and explaining in a child-sensitive way why he’s not there. We feel the pain of his longing for a father- “what’d you leave for me?”, then commenting in hindsight that he started to close himself off from others and perhaps from his own feelings (using the metaphor of bricks and walls) because of the loss of his father (and-now we know- the guilt Waters felt believing he was responsible for his father’s death).
The piece ends with a long coda of Dorian blues-infused guitar solo over a bass ostinato (eighth-sixthteenth-sixteenth-eigth-sixteenth-sixteenth) (D-C-D, D-D-G-C-D), when we begin to hear children’s voices and a helicopter, transitioning into the next piece.