Sung by Kansas. Words and music by Kerry Livgren and Steve Walsh.
Recorded on the Leftoverture album released in 1976.
Re-released in The Best of Kansas in 1984 and disk two of The Kansas Boxed Set in 1994.
Recoded live on Live At The Whiskey in 1993.


I'm woven in a fantasy, I can't believe the things I see
The path that I have chosen now has led me to a wall
And with each passing day I feel a little more like something dear was lost
It rises now before me, a dark and silent barrier between,
All I am, and all that I would ever want be
It's just a travesty, towering, marking off the boundaries my spirit would erase

To pass beyond is what I seek, I fear that I may be too weak
And those are few who've seen it through to glimpse the other side,
The promised land is waiting like a maiden that is soon to be a bride
The moment is a masterpiece, the weight of indecision is in the air
It's standing there, the symbol and the sum of all that's me
It's just a travesty, towering, blocking out the light and blinding me
I want to see

(instrumental)

Gold and diamonds cast a spell, it's not for me I know it well
The treasures that I seek are waiting on the other side
There's more that I can measure in the treasure of the love that I can find
And though it's always been with me, I must tear down the Wall and let it be
All I am, and all that I was ever meant to be, in harmony
Shining true and smiling back at all who wait to cross
There is no loss
Oh...

(instrumental)


The first verse introduces us to the Wall. It is something that is a consequence of our past actions. Looking at it, we realize the possibilities that could have been and until this wall is overcome and the narrator reaches the other side. Until that time, the choices of the past haunt him.

The second verse brings images of Exodus and Moses leading his people to the promised land. The image of the maiden before the wedding is also one filled with religious symbolism. Beyond the religious symbolism, the second verse is images of promises and uncertainty. "I fear I may be too weak" and "the weight of indecision is in the air" both speak of questions.

On this side of the wall is money, wealth and fame. Although the narrator knows of it its not enough - or not what he seeks. The material pleasures of wealth pale in comparison to the love that he believes is on the other side of the wall.


In our lives, we all find the Wall. Each choice that we make (or don't make) may eventually come back to haunt us with 'what if?'. This 'what if' is in many cases the wall that obstructs us from reaching our full potential. 'What if' forms a silent barrier that others often don't see. No matter what the promise is on the other side - a land of milk and honey or a maiden waiting to be a bride, it is the weakness of indecision that holds us back. To cross this dark and silent wall we have to cast off the ghosts of old. The past has been written, and no matter how hard we try, we cannot change it - nor should we, for it is part of all who we are.

With a film like the Wall, I think you can review it with a little eccentricity, because the piece itself tells a story the way most films cannot, with little dialogue, scenes that run into to one another and blend, and actors that are in ways simply vehicles for the emotion they are expressing through the music. It's almost amusing in parts because of the parody and outrageousness of the main actor's actions.

Some of the best scenes in the movie are animated, for in these sections there is seldom any question what the images convey, how national flag becomes a red cross that bleeds into a storm drain. Naked figures with gas masks for faces scurry from gunfire. Red and black hammers marching like Nazi soldiers. A dove turning into a black eagle, a war plane. Planes become the white crosses of dead soldiers. A mother's arms holding her infant son become a brick wall. A wall running along an open field, dividing people and flowers and churches, a living thing. I won't even go into the flower scenes.

Most artsy movies, like Kubrick's films perhaps, try too hard to be surreal, thinking that because they are concept films that the viewer has to be confused in order to be taken off guard. Not so in this case. I don't think there is much ambiguity in the depictions of what Pink has gone through. His father is killed in a war when he is a baby and he's raised by his mother, who protects and coddles him, shielding him from the world. His interest in poetry gets mockery and shame from his classmates and teachers. He is already well designed to feel alone in the world. He becomes a star and tries to fall in love, but his life lessons of isolation push her away. At some point he finds himself in a hotel room during a tour, and this is the pivotal point of the movie. From here, he thinks back over his entire life and the unknown life of his father that he never knew. He seems to have nothing but anger, loneliness and regret. He has no where to go but down.

The movie takes you further than you have likely gone yourself. While most people can sympthize with depression (some cases that span entire lives), not many of us can relate to madness in the sense that we have crossed over the breaking point of sanity and are simply a useless shell of our former selves. The Wall projects one way we would have turned out if we hadn't, at some point, snapped out of our bubble. I look at the scenes displayed before me and could see myself, through certain similar outcomes, ending up much like Pink, had I not decided that being happy and breaking a silence of adolescent depression was more important than dying in the obsession of my previous losses and shortcomings. The movie depicts when the fight or flight instinct fails.

My ex couldn't watch this movie, refused to watch it, because it's depictions of divorce and supposed adultery had brought back images of his parents' temporary separation due to an affair. I tried to get my boyfriend to watch it, but he said he wasn't in the mood for a mind fuck. I know what he means. When I watched it this time, I sat out on my balcony afterward, smoking and staring out a silent neighborhood street. And I could see how so many of us can be close to the edge, all at the same time.

Published in 1962, this is the only novel by Marlen Haushofer available in English. It is the tale of a middle-aged woman who suspects herself to be the last woman on earth. The unnamed woman tells her story of solitude as she writes in her journal - frequently at first, but as the seasons role on her writing becomes more sporadic.

She begins by explaining that she has gone out to visit her cousin and her cousin's husband at their cabin, when her hosts find that they must travel back to the town for some supplies. Left with the company of the couple's dog Lynx, The Woman is only slightly annoyed when her companions do not return that night. When they still haven't returned the next day, The Woman begins exploring her territory.

She took Lynx out with her, and while walking, Lynx seemed to bump his head and cried out. The Woman followed, and herself encountered an invisible force. After several moments of disbelief, she decided that there actually was an invisible wall in front of her. She sees a stream blocked off by the wall, and a man frozen in place as though he were drinking from the now empty waterway.

After several more excursions, The Woman begins to find ways to live. She discovers a cow in the pasture which provides her with milk and an additional companionship. She plants a grove of potatoes from a bag of them she found in the pantry of the cabin. In the winters, she often goes hungry.

After years of solitude, a strange man appears in the pasteur after killing Lynx...

This is a very interesting tale, and is more suspenseful than one might imagine. It is mostly billed as a feminist fiction story. I don't wish to give away the entire story, so I will leave it to read.

Notably, The Wall was performed by Roger Waters and a whole bunch of other folks on Saturday, July 21st, 1990, on the site of the recently demolished Berlin Wall. (This was not Pink Floyd.) It was one of the most extravagant concerts ever staged, one time only. The concert is opened by the mayors of East and West Berlin.

This is an incredibly powerful concert to watch, as it embodies the feelings of a time and place unique in history, and I would highly recommend it if you can find it. (I have seen it on Laser Disc in England.)

Special Guest Artists: Bryan Adams, The Band (Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson), Paul Carrack, Thomas Dolby, James Galway, Jerry Hall, The Hooters, Cindi Lauper, Ute Lemper, Joni Mitchell, Paddy Meloney, Van Morrison, Sinead O'Connor, Scorpions

The Trial Cast:
Prosecutor: Tim Curry
Teacher: Thomas Dolby
Wife: Ute Lemper
Mother: Marianne Faithfull
Judge: Albert Finney

Featuring: The East Berlin Radio Orchestra, The East Berlin Radio Choir, The Military Orchestra of the Soviet Army (no, i'm not kidding).

An incredibly powerful and popular two-disc album by the rock band Pink Floyd, The Wall unites stoners crying over cruel society, heartbroken lovers, reminiscing housewives, regretful 40-somethings, and everybody and anybody down in the blues. Equally valid argument could be made to call the album an opera, a well-backed poetry reading, a movie soundtrack, or just good rock.

To me Wall is notable most as one of a handful of superlative experiences in modern commercial art--times, ideas, places, persons, things that just come together in exactly the right way to make something that has never been made before and will never be made again. As others I might point out Jimi Hendrix, the Woodstock concert, the Jim Morrison myth, Jesus Christ Superstar, the Hunter Thompson legendarium, Lord of the Rings, and even the messy but unmistakeable Joy Division story.

Thank you Pink Floyd for putting in at least three or four of the several dozen bricks that make up the synthesised, total Experience of late 20th century Western art.

Compressing Pink Floyd's "The Wall" to One Disc of Music

Some are going to see this as sacrilege to Roger Waters' artistic and creative vision. "How dare you chop up this masterpiece of rock and roll?" they may ask. Well, face it, for all of The Wall's strong points, it has quite a bit of weaknesses as well. It's overblown, and its pretentious, yet, unlike The Final Cut, it manages to sound good for most of it. In fact, the hack job needed to bring it down to one compact disc is far from difficult. More judicious cutting may be necessary to bring it down to one LP.

First off, you need to identify the filler tracks. Sections of the album that add nothing to the narrative, and nothing to the sound. Most of this is on Disc 2. Right off the bat, we can cut out "Is There Anybody Out There?", "Nobody Home", "Vera" and "Bring The Boys Back Home". "Hey You" more than adequately expresses the isolation of Pink at this point. The rest is wasteful. "Bring The Boys Back Home" hardly fits on the album, as well. "The Show Must Go On" is also expendable. It was cut from both the film, and Roger Waters' performance of The Wall in Berlin. "Stop", and "Outside The Wall" can be cut as well. The climax of "The Trial" is a perfectly fine ending to the album.

Cutting down the first disc is not as easy. Most of the songs are well done, and there is little filler. One could concievably cut out "Another Brick In The Wall (Part 1)", or "The Thin Ice". Yet these songs contain key elements of the album's plot. They have to stay. You can cut, however, "Don't Leave Me Now" ("One Of My Turns" stands well on its own), and "Goodbye Blue Sky". "Goodbye Blue Sky" in particular is a bit of an anathema, thematically, as the album lacks any other cuts that concern themselves with war, except "Bring The Boys Back Home", which has already been cut. "Empty Spaces", too can also be cut.

So, the current track list is something like this:

  1. In The Flesh?
  2. The Thin Ice
  3. Another Brick In The Wall (Part 1)
  4. The Happiest Days Of Our Lives
  5. Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)
  6. Mother
  7. Young Lust
  8. One Of My Turns
  9. Another Brick In The Wall (Part 3)
  10. Goodbye Cruel World
  11. Hey You
  12. Comfortably Numb
  13. In The Flesh
  14. Run Like Hell
  15. Waiting For The Worms
  16. The Trial
This is still one hour of music. With some minor editing, one can put this on to one single LP, but it will possibly suffer in sound quality. To make things easier, you will need to cut more.

This is where the editing becomes judicious. We can take out "Run Like Hell", as it adds little to the story. "Another Brick In The Wall (Part 3)", and "Goodbye Cruel World" can also be removed. This cuts the album down to close to fifty-three minutes, and allows it to be pressed on to an LP with out too much difficulty.

The final tracklist, of the single LP version of The Wall:

  1. In The Flesh?
  2. The Thin Ice
  3. Another Brick In The Wall (Part 1)
  4. The Happiest Days Of Our Lives
  5. Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)
  6. Mother
  7. Young Lust
  8. One Of My Turns
  9. Hey You
  10. Comfortably Numb
  11. In The Flesh
  12. Run Like Hell
  13. Waiting For The Worms
  14. The Trial

Try doing this with The Beatles White Album. It can be a lot of fun.

The Wall is a wonderful term of endearment given to parts of Lyceum Avenue and Levering Street in Manayunk, a section of Philadelphia. It is arguably one of the most challenging ascents in any cycling event. Every year in June the USPRO Cycling Championship, the longest-running (20 years), richest and most prestigious professional bike race in the United States, takes place; the men ride 156 miles while the women ride 57.6 miles. By the end of the race, the men will have ascended the Wall 10 times. The reason The Wall is so infamous is because of its 17% grade. What does that really mean? Well, grade is defined as the vertical climb divided by the horizontal distance. So a 17% grade for the Manayunk Wall means that the road rises 275 feet in about one-third of a mile. Let's put this into perspective.

Find a four-story building near you and stand about a hundred yards from the base. Now look straight at the roof and imagine riding your bicycle up the imaginary ramp that result. Continue past the roof until you've ridden for a total of twelve stories1. Now you can see why anyone who dares utter the words "That doesn't look so hard" will be promptly pelted with a barrage of jeers, angry words, and empty beer cans by Philadelphia sports fans partying on the porches of Manayunk. Having scaled The Wall myself a number of times I can safely say that it is not a feat I can imagine performing ten times in six hours at the breakneck speed those pros pedal without hurling, grimacing in pain, crying, and falling over at the top with a will to die.


1. http://www.batonrougecycling.com/Articles/Jon_Anderson/Indian_words.htm

The Writing On The Wall...

OK that's a pathetic pun, but still...a look at the concepts and meaning behind Pink Floyd's The Wall.

NOTE: Spoilers be here. Also, I have linked to some stills from the film which are fairly disturbing...although that is the intended effect.

The Wall basically deals with depression and, as a result of that, a complete breakdown of sanity. The protagonist, Pink, is beaten down all his life; his mother smothers him (Mother), his father was killed in an act of pointless sacrifice during World War II (When The Tigers Broke Free), his teachers destroyed his confidence (The Happiest Days Of Our Lives) and his wife cheats on him (Don't Leave Me Now). All the while, Pink is building The Wall of the title, designed to keep all those who could help him out and himself in, isolated from anything that could possibly hurt him. By the end of Disc One, Pink has completed the wall; this is impetus enough for him to go from being merely depressed (merely!) and cross over into madness.

In Disc Two, Pink has gone over the tipping point into total insanity. His manager finds him comatose in his hotel room, and enlists a doctor to wake him up (Comfortably Numb), however Pink is trapped behind the Wall and in a world of his own. In his mind, the concert he is about to perform is nothing but a Neo-Nazi rally (In The Flesh), and the image of him being a cold-blooded dictator comes fully formed into his mind (Run like Hell). He eventually rebels against this (Stop) and puts himself on trial (The Trial). At this trial, he finds himself to be responsible for a lot of his problems, for pushing away his wife and mother, and is ordered to tear down the Wall. In the end, he finds that the "bleeding hearts and artists" have been trying to reach out to him, but thanks to the wall that Pink has built up around himself their efforts were in vain. This is neatly summed up in the absolutely beautiful line "After all, it's not easy, banging your heart against some mad bugger's wall". In the end however, you don't know whether to feel sorry for Pink or to scold him; the Trial is quite vague on what the verdict is. Is it Pink's fault for not talking, or everyone else's fault for not listening? Maybe a bit of both; he was so far gone, he didn't care any more.

The film is an absolutely brilliant work of cinema, aided by disturbing, yet magnificent animations by the famed grotesque cartoonist Gerald Scarfe. Pink's wife and mother are represented by frankly frightening half anthropomorphic, half praying mantis flowers (image); as mentioned above, naked skeletonic people with gas masks for faces scurry about like insects during the Blitz (image); the constituent parts of the Union Jack fall away, leaving nothing but a bloody cross (image); hammers march, representing Pink's army of jackbooted thugs (probably one of Pink Floyd's most famous images, besides the refracting prism: image). During the Trial, Pink is represented by nothing more than a rag doll slumped against the Wall, cleverly showing his powerlessness against the forces of his own mind that brought him so low. (image)


The Wall is a brilliant work on depression and insanity, showing those who have probably never been so low just how terrible it is. My girlfriend is schizophrenic and clinically depressed, and this album (and its corresponding film) showed me something I hadn't fully understood before...what she faces, every single day, why it is hard to get her to open up, why she can't talk, why she looks like she doesn't care...no amount of E2 writeups, rambling LiveJournal entries or clinical encyclopedia pages could ever come this close to entering the mind of the person who is experiencing such utter hell first hand. Every single faux-depressed teenie goth, every single person who rambles about how painful their life is on their blog and about how they just can't cope any more in middle-class suburbia should be forced to watch the film to kick some perspective into them...

As Templeton identified above, it's a mindfuck, and one that comes very recommended, even for the faint of heart. Buy it, download it, whatever, just make sure to listen to it at least once in your lifetime..

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