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Comfortably Numb*

Today is the 25th anniversary of the release of Pink Floyd's The Wall. Discuss. *Thank you, NyQuil


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» Another Brick from Hold The Mayo
From A Small Victory comes yet another reminder of how old I am. Today is the 25th anniversary of the release of Pink Floyd's The Wall. Like a lot of people, I have a history with this album. Like a... [Read More]


I'll get my contribution to the discussion out of the way quickly: I've never heard it. Have no desire to.

This is the band that changed my musical life and I am grateful to them for that.

However, it was sure sad to find out that Roger Waters is such an Idiotarian, although I always had that idea.

Anyway, congrats to Nick Mason, Roger Wright and David Gilmour. Oh, last thing, when I saw them play their last show, they promissed they'd be back. One more time for Pink Floyd.

Has it really been 25 years? Damn, that makes me feel old. The Wall was a fantastic double album, but the movie is seriously deranged.

If you don't beat your meat, you can't have any pudding... yeah I know it's eat but this was always more fun to say.

25 years? Damn am I that old?

The only way to discuss The Wall is over a doobie.

The Wall was brilliant. Unprecedented stuff, possibly the best record of it's time (which happened to coincide with 9th grade in my case). It has lost some of its luster, but still shines as the best of the "rock opera" genre, eclipsing the Who's "Tommy".

I know we're talking about the album here but I have to interject my first experience with the movie.

My best friend and I saw it when we were thirteen and fourteen respectively. I think all boys should see this film when they are little more than sacks of hormones walking around with tons of potential and nothing to waste it on. It changed my idea of movies, music and, in general, life.

I think the best part of the experience was that I saw it at a midnight showing in a THX theater with about 300 stoners while I was stone cold sober.

You can't predict experiences like that.

Not everybody is celebrating. The children used for the famous chorus "we don't need no education, we don't need no thought control" are now suing for royalties. This has and continues to be one of my favorite albums, but Roger Waters has not worn well over the years.


Floyd... eh.

From a professional standpoint, I respect them as composers and certainly as engineers, but the music itself leaves me bored. At least, that's the way it's been since I gave up on the narcotics...

I know I have the album, I know I listened to it...but I was in college, and I don't remember it. I think I was self-medicating.

Wish you were here.

So much more meaningful to me.

Never liked this album until I saw the movie. (This was of course in the Days Before "Just Say No.")

Well that isn't quite true, I liked it less than other PF albums - Animals, Darkside of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and Meddle in particular. I also liked it less than similar albums by other groups - The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis is a much better double story-telling album.

The PF movie of them playing in the collesium at Pompei is fairly strange - if you can find it, it might be worth a look.

it came out about a month before my 10th birthday. What a trip. There are songs on it i like and songs on it i don't like. shrug. My personal floyd preference is Dark Side of the Moon, though.

I think that Ariel Sharon should finish the Separation Barrier so that Roger Waters can try to jumpstart his foundering solo career with a concert in its shadow.

While I think Pink Floyd are good musicians, I avoid listening to them. I once sat and listened to The Wall and was horribly depressed by the time it was over. I didn't "get" the movie; my husband says it was because I was sober.

Uhhhh. Somebody help me understand why I am supposed to care. Self-absorbed gibberish. Ohhh wait a minute! I remember now: "This is sooo coooool maaaan. It's gonna change the wurrrld, maaaan!"
Bullshit. Or maybe I'm just a grouch...

Dan Patterson
Winston-Salem, NC

Anybody got a copy of the Wizard of Oz? Or was that Dark Side of the Moon?

Overrated and overplayed.

As Zendo says, Floyd has much better work, with or without Waters. (Waters was fine as long as he (or the band) kept the morose blather in check. It was pretty bad on Wall, and terrible on The Final Cut. Yeah, we know your dad died in the war. Move On Already.)

Pink Oz

OZ + Dark Side - start music on third lion roar (the one in color).

Unfortunately, the music runs out before the movie does. Pretty trippy tho.

I'm sick to death of most of it by now, sorry. "Classic rock radio" just killed that album for me. It was a lot better when I heard those songs two or three times a year, max...

Pink Floyd sucks. But not like the Beatles suck. And speaking of sucking, how 'bout that Jimi Hendrix? Suck, suck, suck. The Dead? Suckalicious.

Korn. Korn rules. Tool. The new black. Marilyn Manson. Better than sex. Soundgarten. Like Jesus, but cooler. Weezer. 'Nuff said.

Michele - you've reported that you are sick.

Do your hands feel like just like two balloons?

I never understood the appeal of Pink Floyd. Their music just always seemed so pretentious to me. I'm a purist. I like my rock-n-roll straight, with guitars, drums, and maybe a piano and harmonica.

needs more cowbell.



"The Wall" was deeply meaningful to me when I was in high school, and now strikes me as puerile, self-important, and whiny. I can't even listen to it any more. And "The Final Cut" is worse.

Does moving out of your parents' house, getting a job, paying bills, getting married, and trying to raise 2.4 kids change a person? Heck, yeah.

Whoa! I see some idiots post here.

Great album. One of my favorite bands, despite Waters' ventricular hemorrhaging. It's not my favorite Floyd album, but it was a milestone when it was released. Familiarity breeds contempt for some, I suppose, but I think it's held up pretty well. It still matches my mood on occassion. I'll join the "I'm old club" though. I was 14 (fourteen!!)when "The Wall" was new ... now 40 approaches fast (bearing Maalox and naps). I'm gonna go listen to "The Wall" and feel sorry for myself while I contemplate the merits of wearing black socks with sandals :P


Hmmmm ... guess it's time to shave off all my body hair again. I'll start with the eyebrows.


Which means that 25 years ago tonight I was sitting in Greg and Fred's apartment listening to it for the first time on their killer Bose...and wondering, "Is this going to get better...then...nope...this really sucks." Which would explain why Fred still has my copy.

This was the first album I bought with my own money. Also the first thing I bought from the iTunes Music store.

I never could understand the appeal of the Floyd. Pretentious in an especially sucky sort of way, IMO. How can a band be considered "classic rock" when they aren't even playing anything that's recognizable as rock & roll?

So as you might imagine, I was considerably cheered up when I saw this little news item:
Floyd hit kids sue for unpaid cash
Here's the URL, but you'll hafta remove the underscore for it to work:

Believe it or not, the string "W-B-I-Z" was detected as "questionable content". The machines are taking over, I tell ya!

If somebody told me that we could only cover one band from now on, nobody else, I'd pick Floyd.

Yeah, it's not rock although they have some. But it is some amazing stuff.

Tell me Claire Torry didn't sound like a 38 year old black woman.

Sucks? Not recognizable as rock? Pretentious? Give me a break.

Listen to David Gilmore's guitar solos in Comfortably Numb for example: The raw, straight-from-the-gut tone; the tasteful restraint in his phrasing; the power, the soul. Those solos capture the essence of honest rock & roll, straight from the heart.

Is The Wall their best album? Arguably not. Is it the greatest album of all time? No. Did it change the course of music like other milestone albums in the history of rock? Probably not. Has it been over played? Probably. But it certainly does not deserve the negative comments posted in this column.

I am flat-out amazed by the morons who seem to think rock, or music in general, was invented in the mid-nineties. Where would Soundgarden have come from if Kim Thayil never heard Hendrix? Where would Weezer be if they were not able to cop material from the hundreds of mediocre generic rock bands in the sixties and seventies? Marilyn Manson without Alice Cooper and early Sabbath?

Don't get me wrong: I love today's music. BUT, I've been listening and playing music long enough to see the clear lineage of the current rock/alternative/punk/blues/metal/grunge bands. Pink Floyd deserves its place in the hopper of influences that I hear in many of today's "cutting edge" bands.

I never thought I would have to be a Floyd defender, as they were never at the top of my list of favorite bands. But, I'm sick at home, bored, and irritated by the naivete and narrow taste of so many that were born after the summer of love. Hell, many of you were probably conceived with Dark Side of the Moon playing in your dad's car on a warm summer night in 1973.

Rant over. BTW, The Wall was released only five days before my 20th birthday, if you're trying to guage my age.

I never really got into the album as a whole - like Tommy, the concept just wasn't powerful enough to me to sustain me through the crappy plot-advancing songs - and it certainly doesn't stand up to Dark Side of the Moon, but the Wall definitely had some great songs.

Any thoughts on the live album they did at the Berlin Wall? I've never heard the whole thing, and any project with Bryan Addams done after about 1987 is deeply suspect, but I did enjoy the very different take Van Morrison did on Comfortably Numb, where he tried expressing the emotions in the lyrics rather than letting them contrast with a deliberately flat, "numb" vocal as in the classic original.

It came out my first year of college--ho yeah!! Great memories...

Pink Floyd is one of my all-time favorite bands, although The Wall wasn't my favorite album. That would be a tight toss-up between DSOTM and WYWH, with Momentary Lapse of Reason coming in a very close second. I never saw them personally in concert--my husband did on their Animals tour, but I have seen their Delicate Sound of Thunder tour on video, which is really good; however, it's not available on DVD yet!!

I've always liked them. Even when I first heard DSOTM at the tender of age 11-12 before I, er, experienced anything, I thought their music took me places.

The whole trick to Pink Floyd consists of understanding that they are first and foremost a blues band. Once that fact is grasped, then the whole book lays wide open. There are no more confusements over what's "rock", etc., in their work. (This, of course, is predicated on a fundamental understanding of rock music, which is something that has been woefully lacking in pop markets for nearly twenty years now.)

Mark -- this principal fact accounts for the elegant power of Gilmore's lines. Nothing in his whole corpus is technically challenging. However, any guitarist who sits down to transcribe or play that stuff soon faces a wall of raw soul, beyond which one can only speculate at the origin of those lines, note by note. Pretty shortly the question goes, "Well, I can finger that, but look at it... where the hell did that come from?"

"The Wall" wore me out pretty quickly, for a Floyd record, because Waters had obviously over-reached himself. It's got its moments that have held up over a quarter-century, though, and it has to be seriously accounted for when talking about the history of the band.

I have seen the Wall, the movie, in three different er mind conditions (wot me pretentious): stone cold sober (not very satisfying), a wee bit pickled (better) and comfortably numb on pot & booze (very cool indeed). The Wall is not the band's best album, Dark Side is in my estimation. There is a 2-CD of the Wall live with the full band, before Rogers buggered off, and it is pretty impressive.

I can't believe it has been so long...woah.

Pink Floyd is just one of those bands that when the mood fits no one else will do.

I was in high school, a sophomore, when the album was released. While it pales compared to Dark Side, Wish You Were Here, it is indeed a hallmark accomplishment. Stands out as one of the first rock operas I fully appreciated (after which I became more appreciative of Tommy, Jesus Christ Superstar).

Always loved to point out the 'funny farm' reference to those who never heard it before. Still trying to decode what was being mumbled in the first few seconds of track 1.

I have no interest whatsoever in "rock music". In fact, I regard it as plague on humankind. Rock & roll was invented 1950's by people like Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Little Richard and Elvis - not in the late 60's by people on acid trips. If a band is playing stuff that has no discernible thread of connection back to the original, true rock & roll music, I'm not buying.

Late to the party, so Mark beat me to the guitar solo on "Comfortably Numb". The raw emotion on display is simply overwhelming, matching the despair of the song, and of course, the album. Gilmour wasn't one of the best axemen, but he could channel feelings with the best of them.

Floyd was the first "progressive" band I heard. A friend played WYWH for me, starting with "Welcome to the Machine". For someone used to Ted Nugent and Aerosmith, I thought WTF, is this music? Yes, yes it was.

Thanks to Billy for the tip about blues. That explains a lot.

The Wall was the first non-classical-music I fell in love with, when it was force-fed to me in the 9th grade by my roommate at geek camp. The adolescent angst has worn off, but I still feel friendly towards it (although I only listen to it when in a particular dark snarky mood)-- I love that they can get away with "Nobody Home" with piano accompaniment, and that they use the word "incontrovertible." In general I think Pink Floyd is much more interesting, especially lyrics-wise, than, say, the Beatles, who bore me silly. (Yeah, I was born in 1977.) But maybe it's because I'm pretentious. :)

That said, I also like parts of The Final Cut a great deal (objectively, I know "The Gunner's Dream" is complete sap, and "Fletcher Memorial" is kinda silly and not necessarily square with my political beliefs, but I still love those songs), which as I understand it completely invalidates my opinion as a popular music consumer.

Always found the song intriguing.

Auditorally-(made up word?) complex.

Friends told me I had to see the movie, best seen high.

Freshman in college, a little tipsy & floating a little, on his narrow dorm bunk with the most neurotic guy on campus.

Strange that prowess & size are wasted on men too screwed up to consider staying with.

It is now one of my autistic eldest child's favorites. Whenever we are in the car with it on, giving the speakers a workout, I get a strange feeling, like he's seeing something he shouldn't.

Oh oh, here I go again.

MikeR, it's alright if you don't care for the evolution of "rock 'n' roll" music in the late sixties and seventies. But lets give credit where it's due. "Rock" music is mostly an evolution of the blues that was usurped by white guys in the 50's. Look at the people you credit for "inventing" rock 'n' roll:

Chuck Berry: Not an inovative bone in his body. He took every T-Bone Walker lick from the late 40's and played them over the same lyrical themes the blues greats were singing since the 20's. Perhaps he sped up the tempo, but even that's debatable.

Elvis Presley: Direct rip-offs of blues songs from Big Mamma Thornton, Willy Dixon, and others. What did he add? A white face. No, his moves were not his--the blues guys were doing them for decades.

I would say both Buddy Holly and Little Richard both added some rock 'n' roll to the blues, but it's still a slight evolution of the jump blues form. (By the way, Jimi Hendrix was one of Little Richard's guitars, and his style did not change much before his solo career began).

By the late 60's, the white guys figured out that the heavy distortion and feedback used by the bluesmen of the 50's was pretty cool, so they incorporated that and it evolved into "hard rock." Still, the lyrical themes and song structures remained, for the most part, text book blues.

I guess my point is that "rock 'n' roll" was never invented. It has been around since at least the 20's, but was largely inaccessible to the consuming public because of racial and economic barriers. The difference between Chuck Berry and Led Zepplin or Fleetwood Mac (formerly a straight blues band) are virtually impreceptible musical shades on a spectrum that is nearly a century old.

Blah, still sick and cranky. Bye.

(Here's a bit of a ricochet)

"By the late 60's, the white guys figured out that the heavy distortion and feedback used by the bluesmen of the 50's was pretty cool,..."

Mark; over at the Les Paul Forum -- where the geeks can go about ass-deep before you even realize what you're dealing with -- I came across a very interesting theory that the whole reason why Gibson stopped manufacturing the Les Paul in 1962 (they simply put the name on the SG body style) was due to market disapproval of the Humbucker pickup, introduced in 1957.

I'm thinking you might understand pickup technology enough to grasp the implications. The Humbucker was offered as an improvement over the single-coil P90. Essentially -- as the theory goes, although it's roughly put here -- it took until the mid-60's for the rockers to crank up the gain that resulted in the signature sound of 60's feedback on guitars that they were fishing out of pawn-shops and used shops for a song because nobody wanted 'em. (In, say, 1963, you could buy for almost nothin' a guitar that goes $150K, now.)

The point I'm making is that there is a proper distinction between the sounds of "the bluesmen of the 50's" and those of the rockers of a decade later, and a great deal of it had to do with dealing with the hardware.

Hmmm, I hear ya Billy. However, I'm not sure I buy it.

One of the most sought-after tones among the white rockers of the late 60's has been that mid-late fifties sound of fender tweed cranked to 12 (eat THAT, Spinal Tap!). The black legends used P90 pickups, strat single coils, and anything else they could get their hands on. They had to crank the low-wattage amps until the tubes virtually melted, so they could be heard in the raucous juke joints of the day. Plus, they dug the texture, sustain and feedback. The old guys also used Gibson PAF's if they could afford the hollow or semi-hollow boxes they were often attached to. Unfortunately, the hollow body/PAF combination was often too muddy through an old tweed amp.

When the big rock bands started playing in arenas, their little VOX amps were maxed out and very distorted. My hunch is that the Beatles and the Kinks tolerated this as an unfortunate side effect of being popular. They sought after the cleaner, jangly guitar sound.

John Marshall diverted his attention from selling drums to designing walls of high-wattage stacks to move air to the nose bleed sections of arenas. Everybody had to have them, because all their hero's used stacks of Marshalls. Unfortunately, they were too friggin' loud for clubs, and they (fortunately) had no master volumes. This created a problem getting that distortion at club levels. Hence, the resurgence of the humbucker which saturates the signal with higher gain, thereby pushing the input stage of the amps to distort.

Fuck it, I'm drinking too much wine and I'm going no where with this. Chicken or egg? --who knows.


In the nutshell of my mind: 50's Blues guys learned to love their distortion. Early sixties, post-folk white guys were not ready for distortion; they liked clean jangly Ricky 12-strings. In '66 the focus returned to blues, but with a more heavy, distortion tolerant, attitude. Eric Clapton with Mayall and Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Peter Green, etc. sought after the distortion so much they moved to humbuckers for a while. Still, Eric and Jimi melted plenty of ear drums with P90s and Strat coils.

Shut me up, even I don't care what I'm writing.

(nod) Carlos at Woodstock: P90's in that SG Special.

The Gibson hollows & semi-hollows are an interesting kink in the theory I introduced. (There's a rationale for it, naturally. Makes sense to me, though.)

I know what you mean about fitting amps to big rooms, but Jimi established a positive style with the heavy Marshall bombing of Monterey in '67.

Michael Bloomfield seems to have been in charge of a lot of the charge for Humbuckers in America. That predates Monterey, but it's also a different approach to feedback.

The P90's have never gone away, and I lust for another P90 axe even now.

To try to yank this thing back on topic: Gilmour recorded the solo to "Another Brick In The Wall" parts 2 & 3 with a '59 Les Paul Goldtop, with P90's.

MA: great points and I agree with em'. If you want the true inventor of rock, I nominate Robert Johnson.

50s rock & roll is fine if you like music that is boring with little nuance or intricacy. And the lyrics...egads... I can understand why people liked it then (ie a form of rebellion) but I don't understand any current attraction. If I want roots stuff I go listen to Robert Johnson, BBKing or John Lee Hooker. Rock & Roll may get yer feet moving but blues moves your soul.

Mark - I'm so grateful that you set me straight! Here all this time I was enjoying a musical form that doesn't really exist! What an idiot I am, to not be able to see that there's really no difference between Johnny B Goode, Whole Lotta Love and friggin' Sara.

The Blues informed and helped shape Rock & Roll, but any claims that Rock & Roll is just an insignificant off-shoot of The Blues are patently absurd. Robert Johnson and many other bluesmen were great artists and profound influences, but that does not imply that songs like Roll Over Beethoven and Honky Tonk Women are mere inferior versions of "real" blues. If you don't like Rock & Roll that's your business, but trying to claim that it's a figment of our imagination is pure BS.

And to get back to the actual subject of this thread, there are thousands of bands and millions of people for whom Chuck Berry and The Rolling Stones and The Ramones are vital influences - and for whom Pink Floyd is entirely insignificant.

"Robert Johnson and many other bluesmen were great artists and profound influences, but that does not imply that songs like Roll Over Beethoven and Honky Tonk Women are mere inferior versions of "real" blues."

Mike: I entirely agree, and there is a principle of continuity in what you said that opens my ear (at least) to Pink Floyd and even (to extend the flavor of the thing) Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

One might say that, today, "Prog rock isn't dead -- it only smells funny", and validate a lot of your argument about "vital influence[s]". (shrug) Dunno. But there's no denying the market for Pink Floyd (the instance before the court), and they're sure as hell never going to be forgotten.

And, on that principle of continuity that we haven't really explicated above, I hearken to the words of a great friend of mine, making our way out of Madison Square Garden one night after catching Genesis on the "Seconds Out" tour: "I don't care what anybody says: that shit rocked."

MikeR, hold on a minute.

"any claims that Rock & Roll is just an insignificant off-shoot of The Blues are patently absurd. Robert Johnson and many other bluesmen were great artists and profound influences, but that does not imply that songs like Roll Over Beethoven and Honky Tonk Women are mere inferior versions of "real" blues. If you don't like Rock & Roll that's your business, but trying to claim that it's a figment of our imagination is pure BS."

Did you even READ any of my posts? Where did I say rock is insignificant? Inferior? That I don't like it? That it's a figment of anyone's imagination?

I LOVE Johnny B. Goode. It's a great song. I love Chuck Berry. I love all forms of rock. I never said rock was insignificant. Never.

What I DID do, was challenge some artificial boundaries you placed around your idea of "Rock 'n' Roll," and your perception of who "invented" it. You're perfectly entitled to prefer the slice of music you call rock 'n' roll, I like it too. But I bristle when people credit immitators instead of the true innovators.

Chuck Berry did NOT invent anything or change the course of music as your post claimed. He did, however, write and perform some damned good songs; each one of them has clear and direct links to others before him. There is nothing wrong with copping entire elements of others' songs, but you can't call the imitator an "inventor," even if those imitations are vastly entertaining.

Go back and listen to T-Bone Walker recordings from 1948; you will hear EVERY "trademark" Chuck Berry lick from Johnny B. Goode. Yes, every one. Those licks are what people often wrongly consider to be Chuck's contribution to music, and the invention of rock.

Keith Richards is a big fan of Chuck Berry, and Chuck influenced much of Keith's style and the earliest Stones recordings. BUT, Chuck was merely a conduit of T-Bone Walker's guitar innovations. Chuck essentially introduced Keith to T-Bone, and that had a great influence on rock. But it was T-Bone who invented the riffs and licks, and deserves the credit. As for the foundation of Chuck's music, and Keith's early stuff, its traditional 12-bar blues.

Whole Lotta Love sounds different from Johnny B. Goode, you're right. Wanna know where Whole Lotta Love came from? Spend some time listening to Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. As for the lyrics, most of them were directly lifted from some old dead black guy in my collection, but I forget which. Still, I love the song, and it was one of my favorites of the day.

Elvis? Does anyone really think he innovated anything? Yeah, he was a good performer, and he added a nice touch to some songs. But his contribution was to introduce white kids to the blues. You may consider "Hound Dog" to be a Rock 'n' Roll song, but Big Mamma Thornton considered it blues, even though her recorded versions rock harder than Elvis's. Classic blues lyrical structure and theme, classic blues musical structure. Written and performed by a big ol' black woman from the Mississipi delta when Elvis was a little kid. White boy plays a watered down version of it, and suddenly he's invented "rock 'n' roll." Fine, whatever.

These are only my opinions, and anyone is free to disagree with me. But if you choose to do so, I would appreciate it if you actually read my post and not put words in my mouth.