The year 2010 can be proud that, among many other interesting and awe inspiring milestones, it was in this year that one great band sold its 200 millionth album worldwide. That band, which began as a university one in London’s underground music scene in the late 60s has gone on to take the world by storm and is still revered and loved by millions of fans. Long after the band had dissolved, they continue to occupy a prominent place in playlists of countless music lovers. That band was Pink Floyd.
Pink Floyd represents the ultimate standard in rock music, a benchmark that is as good as nirvana and enlightenment for any musical group. They defined, redefined and carved in stone the terms psychedelic and progressive rock, taking the genres to new levels and to a whole new audience. Their immaculate lyrics, laced with philosophy have been dissected and analyzed by the best in the business, an honour accorded to very few, if any bands in the world.
Pink Floyd started off in the underground music scenes of London, rocking their way to the top with their debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. The album put them in the limelight, making them a noted band in Britain. It set the stage and served as steps to further success. It was around this time that they had signed a deal with EMI, the famous music label.
Pink Floyd were noted and praised for the ‘psychedelic movement’, almost a genre of music in which psychedelic or ‘trippy’ lyrics were accompanied with bright flashing visuals. Nick Mason, one of the earliest members of the band remarked rather famously, “the psychedelic movement had taken place around us – not within us”. The Pink Floyd sound was at the head of the new movement, attracting attention of the international music industry. Once the band performed in front of a 2000 strong crowd at The Roundhouse, a famous performing arts and concert venue in London, – The Sunday Times was there to cover it and spoke thus:
At the launching of the new magazine IT the other night a pop group called the Pink Floyd played throbbing music while a series of bizarre coloured shapes flashed on a huge screen behind them. Someone had made a mountain of jelly which people ate at midnight and another person had parked his motorbike in the middle of the room. All apparently very psychedelic.
Pink Floyd was led by lead guitarist Syd Barrett up till the release of their first album. He was a gifted musician in all senses of the term, but had to quit the band in 1968, he left the band due to deteriorating mental health. He was considered to be the creative genius of Pink Floyd by many and was a part of the ‘classic line up’, consisting of Barrett, David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters and Richard Wright.
Gilmour took over the leadership of the band, as Pink Floyd moved in to its prime. Their next album A Saucerful of Secrets was released the same year and featured a few earlier contributions from Barrett himself. The album was a decent success and provided the band with plenty of touring opportunities on which they capitalized.
Pink Floyd never looked back from that. They went on to record phenomenal and all time classic albums such as Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall. The last one may be the best known among the band’s albums, featuring the anthem, Another Brick in the Wall. Even a person who has never heard of the band has probably heard this song sometime in the course of their life.
Another Brick in the Wall had three parts, with the work titles, ‘Reminiscing’, ‘Education’ and ‘Drugs’, all written by the bassists Roger Waters. Part II is probably the most well-known of the lot, with the lines’ we don’t need no education’ resounding in the ears of every rock music fan in every corner of the world. The song was written as a general protest against rigid schooling, particularly boarding schools. The rigid rote learning advocated in most schools and corporeal punishments prevalent in such institutions were what the song spoke out against.
The song features strong drums, a well-known bass line and distinctive guitar parts in the background with a smooth, yet edgy guitar solo. The song also features a group of school children for lead vocals in the second verse: as the song ends, the sounds of a school yard are heard, along with the teacher who continues to lord it over the children’s lives by shouting such things as “Wrong! Do it again!” which somehow sounds mocking, and “If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?!”, and “You! Yes! You behind the bikesheds! Stand still, laddie!”, all of it dissolving into the dull drone of a phone ringing and ending with a deep sigh.
The song reiterates the popular saying that education ironically makes us more conformists than we were before. Education makes us take for granted and even makes one expect the world to be in a way it was defined to be, a way in which it has been for ages, a way in which the Establishment can function. Education often makes us merely pawns with which the Establishment and the Man makes their moves.
Pink Floyd was one of the best rock bands ever, probably never to be surpassed. Their philosophical lyrics, pregnant with meaning, often transcend this world, taking one to a higher plane. Accompanied by sonic experimentation and innovative album art, Pink Floyd promises an ethereal experience, an aural laser show condensed in to less than ten minutes. Pink Floyd was often the ultimate, in entertainment, in meaning, in symbolic value and pure awesomeness. Floyd, we Wish You Were Here.
Aju Basil James