Roger Waters

By Dana J. Holt

Written As A College Sophomore, Age 19


The first thing I would like to say is that I know this is shorter than it could be. I had a limit of 5 pages of written text (double spaced), so it doesn't entail everything it should. I did the best I could, but no paper, nomatter the length, can sum up everything Roger Waters is about. I want to extend a special thanks to everyone who sent mail to help me. I've listed all the information I had on you in the quotes from you I used. Thank-you so very much. I would also like everyone to know that I dedicated this paper to Shawn Redden. Without him, I would have never been introduced to Roger Waters and thus, I would never have had the enlightening experience of writing this....Thank-You Shawn.


The most intriguing, widely talented and intellectual musician to come out of the 20th century is definitely Roger Waters. The most unfortunate thing about his reputation is that his name isn't widely known, but his music is. He is the former lyricist, bass guitarist, songwriter and vocalist for Pink Floyd, but has not been associated with the band since he left in 1985. He left to pursue a solo career and to create on his own. Unfortunately, Pink Floyd's music has often been labeled as "drug rock" and associated with the "rebellious youth" of our time because of the people who only listen to it in the drug scene and used the concerts as channels to being part of the in crowd. The crowds did cause frenzies at concerts, as most do, and ended up insulting roger, who was trying to share his message with people who supposedly appreciated it and weren't there simply to get high, drunk or autographs; paraphrasing one of his better known quotes-- "I wanted to put on a good rock concert, but he wanted to start a good riot". Yes, the concerts and record sales do make a lot of money for the band, but as for Mr. Waters, he is not out for making money. He has become quite the philanthropist. Waters has purchased several apartment complexes and lets them out free of charge to people who can't afford housing. He is a true artist in the sense that he is true to his work and and himself. He won't let money get in the way. I can't think of any other lyrical music possessing such deep, blood curdling emotion. Anyone willing can learn from and appreciate anything Roger Waters has done. He is a compelling and fascinating man. He has never failed to amaze me with anything he has created.

In 1983 Waters recorded his last album with Pink Floyd, The Final Cut. 1984 brought about his first solo album, The Pros And Cons Of Hitchiking and in 1987 he follewed with Radio K.A.O.S.. He dedicated this album to "all those who find themselves at the violent end of monetarism". Previously, Waters could have been found as the antithesis of Punk rock, even though he could have been associated with the thirty-something musicians lacing the charts with number one singles such as 'Another Brick In The Wall (part two).' This may very well have been the most famous song Roger Waters has written. It was is a track from the album, The Wall, which brings us to the next point. The live production of this rock opera may very well have been the most magnificent perfomance of it's kind. Waters set out in 1989 to stage his own production. It was performed to commemorate the falling of the Berlin Wall, which could be the only truly fitting place for it's production. Like most of Roger Waters' works, The Wall is not a conglomeration of random songs. It is a saga. It is best described in the words of my best friend, Shawn:

"The Wall is incredibly bitter. It is the most cynical work ever put to paper. It is the story of a rock star who, as he was growing up, went through numerous occurrences in his life that serve as bricks in his wall. Eventually, these bricks encumber him to where he is isolated -- captured by his own emotional witholdings. He lashes out hatefully to anyone around him. Eventually, he realizes that he is killing himself. He ultimately puts himself on trial to tear down the wall of shielded and trapped emotions. He wins. There is hope."

It is a staggeringly gripping piece of music.

George Roger Waters was born on September 9, 1943, in Great Bookham, Englad. It is a small area near London, England. he attended an all boys grammar school which is the subject of his song, 'Another Brick In The Wall,' in which he depicts the days when schoolmasters reigned over children and often succeeded in molding and raising them rather than teaching them. He describes the song in an interview by saying:

"...it's not meant to be a blanket condemnation of teachers everywhere, but the bad ones can really do people in -- and there were some at my school wo were just incrediblly bad and treated the children so badly, just putting them down, putting them down all the time. Never encouraging them to do things, not really trying to interest them in anything, just trying to keep them quiet and still, and crush them into the right shape, so that they would go to the university and do well."

In the Cambridge School for Boys' final evaluation of him it was written that "Mr. Waters never lived up to his full potential." Waters' father, Eric Fletcher Waters, died in W.W.II during the British invasion of Anzio, Italy. A great deal of his music revolves around the subject of senseless war and the fact that his father was a victim of it. Waters knows that war will never end, but what concerns him the most is the bizarre fighting that takes place in a world that has so little left to defend. His album, The Final Cut, was dedicated to the memory of his dad. In Rolling Stone's review of The Final Cut Kurt Loder writes:

"...on The Final Cut, a child's inability to accept the loss of the father he never knew has become the grown man's refusal to accept the death politics that decimate each succeeding generation and threaten more clearly with each passing year to ultimately extinguish us all."

Waters never knew his father due to the war. He died before Roger was born. In The Final Cut, Waters, with biting sarcasm, imagines a 'Fletcher Memorial Home for Incurable Tyrants and Kings.' He is inviting all of the dictators and prime mimisters of the past to come and join in the force. He says :

"...please welcome Reagan and Haig
Mr. Begin and friends, Mrs. Thatcher and Paisley
Mr. Brezhnev and party and now adding colour to a group of
anonymous Latin American meat-packing glitterati".

Here he is chastising all of the national leaders who have let people like his father die fighting in wars for reasons they could never understand.

In Waters' latest album, Amused to Death, he tells of how TV is one of the most persuasive avenues of communication in our world. The album contemplates the argument of whether it is a good or bad thing. Roger says he set out to prove both with the album. The cover displays a chimp flipping through channels on a TV. Waters' obsession with broadcasted war and conflict are manifested in his castigation of the Tiananmen Square massacre on Amused to Death. He sings of the young girl who was killed on world-wide television and the fact that she was a real human with hopes, dreams and of the same value as any other human life. An aboveboard theme is that human life is not expendable. The caliber of life is just as meaningful for a teenage girl, an elderly man or a tyrannical dictator. No one is an exception to the rule, so why fight with guns to make yourself the winner by death? The fact that the Gulf War was televised and used by countless news programs to entertain the "folks back home" only fueled the fire behind the passions in this highly emotional man. In an interview with Rock Compact Disc Magazine he was quoted as saying "I've viewed with mounting disgust the way in which they (CNN) have built this empire on that, their finest hour. Worst still we, the public, seem to be buying this notion that a global communications network is a good thing." Later in the same interview he spoke of the war itself. "I'm very upset by religious dogma. I get angry, gobsmacked in fact when I hear George Bush saying that God was on their side during the Gulf War. It's amazing that in 1992, one of the most powerful men in the world can reduce political rhetoric to that level. But that's what he has to do, to get votes and maintain power."

As we can plainly see, Roger Waters is surely a realist. He pulls no punches. He says what is on his mind and most of the time he writes it into music. He is not only a literary master, but is also a proficient musician. His use of contrasting sounds and voices is incredible. His wide range of musical style is like no other. I think it is too early in history to tell if he has inspired another artist. I'm sure he has inspired many, many people, but as for a specific person, the information really isn't available yet. As for myself, he has helped me to see the world through a more discriminating eye. My rose colored glasses of yesterday have become a bit more clear and my faith in the intellingence of the modern person has been lessened. Some may say that is bad, but I think of it as a huge leap in the right direction. As for the opinions of others, here they are. Anything anyone ever wanted to know about Roger Waters' character or musical ability can be summed up in the words of these people I've found.

"It's the complexity of Waters' more ambitious concept projects that moves me the most -- especially The Wall. That someone could write and perform a piece that works on so many levels, amazes me. It's too bad when people dismiss Floyd's music as being "drug rock", implying that there's no intelligence behind it. I've found Floyd's music to be some of the most intelligent I've ever heard. On a more straighforward level, I simply find many of the melodies appealing. Waters' writing -- especially on some of the tracks from The Final Cut -- I find very moving. The power of the dynamics on that album -- from a barely audible whisper to thunderous crashes -- is very emotional for me. I think The Final Cut contains some of the best examples of Water's poetry as a lyricist, as well." --Craig C. Bailey of Burlington, VT Age 28 -- Host of a Pink Floyd radio program called "Floydian Slip", airing currently on WCPV 101.3 FM.

"The lyrics he has written have opened my eyes to the harsh reality that life is not rosy, cheery, and beautiful, and one has to accept losses to achieve gains." -- Marc Marc@il.net

"People often get a certain anxiety when they encounter somone who truly believes in what he is saying. Waters wrote his songs in a form of the purest self expression. Half his songs could be summed up as saying "This is what I think, and here is why." That really appealed to me......One of Waters' major themes is don't always buy what they tell you. Everyone has their motives. Don't be naive. Look into why they are saying what they say. THINK!!!" --Simon Ahtaridis sahtarid@mail1.sas.upenn.edu

"When I feel frustrated, annoyed or am just very angry I listen to his albums and especially ATD a lot. That gives me strength again. He describes my frustrations about the world. He is just as cynical as I am and loves good music." --Coen Schilderman coen.schilderman@rivm.nl

"...music moves me every bit as much and possibly more than the lyrics. roger is a brilliant wordsmith, but were I to not enjoy the music, not feel the music, they'd be lost on me. Trent Reznor produces a great lyric sheet. Roger's lyric sheet is even better because of the great guitarists with whom Roger has worked -- David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton -- but it's the simple melodies that can carry me throughout a tedious day, enven whn I can't quite remember all the words." --Charlie Saeger Saeg0002@maroon.tc.umn.edu

"When most people thing of Roger Waters, they think of depression, spite, and pain. Most people are blind. What Roger is really about is hopefulness. He has been through a lot. He has an understanding of what he has been through. He hasn't given up. He is far too strong to give up. He has overcome his plight to play on the gambit of human emotion attributed with victory. He is hope. The fact that his world is the way it is, yet individuals can still overcome it on the strength of only [their] virtues is what he represents to me. He is my strength when I have none left. He is my hope when I have none left. He is my hope when I see none. 'He is a rock standing out in an ocean of doubt'." W. Shawn Redden, Age 20. --Pre-Law Student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champain. redden@students.uiuc.edu

[ed. note : the below statement about The Wall is not correct.]

These days Roger is working on another staging of The Wall with more "humanity and humor" as he phrases it. It is to be performed in the year 2000 somewhere in the U.S. -- possibly the Grand Canyon, Wall Street or somewhere of equal grandeur. He has been working on an opera based on the French Revolution named "Ciara". He was asked to produce the music only. The words were contrived by Etienne Roda-Gil in 1988. He has been inspred by his recent marriage to American actress, Pricilla Phillips to write a great deal of poetry. In one of his poems he contrasts the incomparable quality of reading a book to his love for his wife in a statement that could be also equated to his career:

And we will never taste the final drop
or turn the final page.

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