I believe the influence of Roger Waters on western culture is widely underestimated. Not that it is neglected or forgotten, but it is in my opinion way deeper and more significant than it is usually accounted for.
It’s been important for me, as I grew up in total adoration of Pink Floyd, having like many others the first glance of what psychedelia was listening to their 70s albums in my headphones, in those 90s which sounded so alien and cold (just because of my ignorance, I know), that world made real by those mellow synths, dreamy guitars and intense lyrics, all beautifully recorded, was somewhere to go to when the teens blues struck the hardest; writing this post feels almost painful.
Their 70s albums are amazing masterpieces; but the album everybody remembers from Pink Floyd is “The Wall”
In an improbable reconstruction of how that album came to be, it was sometime in the late 70s, they were in the studio; Richard Wright, notoriously the “worst” of the band when it came to drugs, laid in front of Roger Waters a line of the purest coke a billionaire musician could find from one end of the other of Alan Parson’s mixer.
In the precise moment Waters snorted it, the 80s begun.
That line of coke dragged him out of the wild acid trip he and the rest of the band had serendipituously been on for the previous decade; in a lapse of reason, which unlike GIlmour’s later one proved to be all but momentary, he saw all the horror, the oppression; sharp and self confident like only Roger Waters after a massive line of coke could ever be, he told the whole story, as dark and desperate as it could be, distractingly throwing in the mix a load of anger towards his mother and some bad girlfriends, something for which the feminists still blame him.
From being the leading member of a band which was somehow getting lost in the shadow of itself, he went on to a solo career of amazing concept albums; one better than the other, collaborating with the best musicans of the times, making the 2 albums Pink Floyd made without him nice, but artistically almost forgettable (yeah, I’m not counting “the endless river” but who would?)
His charisma didn’t even remotely seem to fade for decades; while the rest of his previous band already looked old and rusty in the 90s; in his concerts at the time his voice was still full of meaning and presence, and the recordings from those shows are still impressive to hear.
On the side of his amazing, unmatched music career, he’s also been one hell of an activist, always vocally speaking his mind about the things he didn’t like in the world, and sending important and powerful messages through his lyrics; with sarcasm more often than not, sometimes not so gracefully, but always with that intensity which apparently never left him from that night in the studio.
So, why if I have this idea of Roger Waters, is this post titled like it is?
There’s 2 reasons.
One is his last album; I’m listening to it again as I write, and I really can’t understand; why?
Why of all, can’t Roger Waters just gracefully wait for the worms?
I’d have to repeat myself saying I consider him to be one of the most important artistic and cultural figures of last century, but this album really has in my humble opinion no reason to exist. Some probably insignificant italian artist claimed Roger Waters had stolen his copyrighted concept for the album cover; the idea of erased words from a text doesn’t seem that original or copyrightable to me, nonetheless the man won his lawsuit, and Waters album couldn’t be sold in Italy with that cover.
The one who should be calling him out for plagiarism though is his own past self; the whole album musicwise sounds so much like a series of stale self references and nothing more; there isn’t anything remotely original, the only positive note being that at least it didn’t get crushed against a limiter as too many good things, but this is, to use Marilyn Manson’s words, a copy of an imitation; something that sounds like a Roger Waters album in the way “A momentary lapse of reason” or “the division bell” sounded like a Pink Floyd one: formally a lot, substantially not at all.
The real worst part imho is with the lyrics; they’re mostly the words of an old man who is rightfully afraid of time slipping through his fingers, and really for the champion he has been all his life, I’d have rather spared myself the experience of this broken and scared Roger Waters.
But much worse than his last album, on which apparently I and the critics have a very different opinion is this:
As many others I consider Trump to be one of the most despicable human beings in existance, but I really don’t see the point of this. First because of the pigs, whose life is already miserable enough without being compared to Donald Trump, and secondly, to put it mildly, because it is a silly childish insult, and because I honestly expect way better from fucking Roger Waters.
I expected the man who wrote “The Wall” and “amused to death” among many others to understand how Trump is just a marionette in a theater, and not to let himself be swayed into seeing him as the root of problem.
Looking back at the album and its lyrics, there’s so much to talk about in the world of today, cryptocurrencies, the new threat of a nuclear war, the rise of fascism in the US and Europe and on the other hand the violent madness the left has become in the after-Hillary, overpopulation, global warming; quite a pack of issues the man who wrote “the wall” should understand better than others, things on which we could have used his enlightened understanding of everything to better cope with; but Roger Waters is human and frail like everyone else, and his best analysis of the world today is “Trump is a pig, and my joints hurt”
If he had been god, he’d have done a better job, I’m sure about it
We, as humanity should have done a better job, because being stuck waiting for Roger Waters to show us the way isn’t an adult thing to do.
But Roger Waters too could have done a better job at being himself lately.