" Another Brick in the Wall " is a three-part composition on   Pink Floyd 's 1979   rock opera   The Wall ,   written by bassist   Roger Waters . "Part 2", a   protest song   against   corporal punishment   and rigid and abusive schooling, features a children's choir. At the suggestion of producer   Bob Ezrin , Pink Floyd added elements of   disco .

"Part 2" was released as a single, Pink Floyd's first in the   United Kingdom   since " Point Me at the Sky " (1968). It sold over four million copies worldwide and topped singles charts in fourteen countries, including in the United Kingdom and the   United States . It was nominated for a   Grammy Award   and was ranked number 384 on   Rolling Stone ' s list of " The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time ".

Concept [ edit ]

The three parts of "Another Brick in the Wall" appear on Pink Floyd's 1979   rock opera   album   The Wall . They are essentially one verse each, although Part 2 sees its own verse sung twice: once by Floyd members, and the second time by the guest choir along with Waters and Gilmour. During "Part 1", the protagonist, Pink, begins building a metaphorical wall around himself following the death of his father. In "Part 2", traumas involving his overprotective mother and abusive schoolteachers become bricks in the wall. Following a violent breakdown in "Part 3", Pink dismisses everyone he knows as "just bricks in the wall." [1] [2]

Bassist   Roger Waters   wrote "Part 2" as a   protest   against rigid schooling, particularly   boarding schools . [3]   "Another Brick in the Wall" appears in the   film based on the album . In the "Part 2" sequence, children enter a school and march in unison through a meat grinder, becoming "putty-faced" clones, before rioting and burning down the school. [4]

Recording [ edit ]

At the suggestion of producer   Bob Ezrin , Pink Floyd added elements of   disco , which was popular at the time. According to guitarist   David Gilmour :

[Ezrin] said to me, "Go to a couple of clubs and listen to what's happening with disco music," so I forced myself out and listened to loud,   four-to-the-bar   bass drums and stuff and thought, Gawd, awful! Then we went back and tried to turn one of the parts into one of those so it would be catchy. [5]

Gilmour recorded his guitar solo using a 1955   Gibson Les Paul   Gold Top guitar with   P-90   pick-ups. [6]   Despite his reservations about Ezrin's additions, Gilmour felt the final song still sounded like Pink Floyd. [5]   When Ezrin heard the song with a disco beat, he was convinced it could become a hit, but felt it needed to be longer, with two verses and two choruses. The band resisted, saying they did not release singles; Waters told him: "Go ahead and waste your time doing silly stuff." [7]

While the band members were away, Ezrin edited the takes into an extended version. He also had engineer Nick Griffiths record children singing the verse at   Islington Green School , close to Pink Floyd's studio. [7]   Griffiths was instructed to record only two or three children; inspired by a   Todd Rundgren   album featuring an audience in each stereo channel, he suggested recording an entire school choir. The school allotted only 40 minutes for the recording. [8]

Alun Renshaw, head of music at the school, was enthusiastic, and said later: "I wanted to make music relevant to the kids – not just sitting around listening to   Tchaikovsky . I thought the lyrics were great – 'We don't need no education, we don't need no thought control' ... I just thought it would be a wonderful experience for the kids." [9]   The children's choir in the recording featured 23 students, who practiced for about a week to prepare. [10]   Renshaw hid the lyrics from the headteacher,   Margaret Maden , fearing she might stop the recording. [11]   Maden said: "I was only told about it after the event, which didn't please me. But on balance it was part of a very rich musical education." [11]   Renshaw and the children spent a week practising before he took them to a recording studio near the school. [12]   According to Ezrin, when he played the children's vocals to Waters, "there was a total softening of his face, and you just knew that he knew it was going to be an important record." [5]   Waters said: "It was great—exactly the thing I expected from a collaborator." [5]

For the single version, a four-bar instrumental intro was added to the song that was created by looping a section of the backing track. The single fades out during the guitar solo. The version included on the compilation   A Collection of Great Dance Songs   combines the single version's intro and the LP version's ending. (Later compilations such as   Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd   and   The Best of Pink Floyd: A Foot in the Door   instead include the album version prefaced by " The Happiest Days of Our Lives ".)

In exchange for performing vocals, the children of Islington School received tickets to a Pink Floyd concert, an album, and a single. [13]   Though the school received a payment of £1,000, there was no contractual arrangement for   royalties   for the children. [14]   Following a change to   UK copyright law   in 1996, they became eligible for royalties from broadcasts. After royalties agent Peter Rowan traced the choir members through the website   Friends Reunited   and other means, they successfully lodged a claim for royalties with the Performing Artists' Media Rights Association in 2004. [14]

Reception [ edit ]

"Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" was released as a single, Pink Floyd's first in the UK since " Point Me at the Sky " (1968). [ citation needed ]   It was also the   Christmas number one   of 1979 and the final number one of the decade in the UK. [15]   In the US, it reached number 57 on the disco chart. [16]   The single sold over 4 million copies worldwide. [3]   Cash Box   described it as a "catchy but foreboding selection, with its ominously steady drum work and angry lyrics." [17]

The song won Waters the 1983   British Academy Award for Best Original Song   for its appearance in the   Wall   film. [18]   "Part 2" was nominated for a   Grammy Award   for Best Performance by a Rock Duo or Group. [ citation needed ]   It appeared at number 384 on   Rolling Stone ' s 2010 list of " The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time ". [19]

The lyrics attracted controversy. The   Inner London Education Authority   described the song as "scandalous", and according to Renshaw, prime minister   Margaret Thatcher   "hated it". [12]   Renshaw said, "There was a political knee-jerk reaction to a song that had nothing to do with the education system. It was [Waters's] reflections on his life and how his schooling was part of that." [12]   The single, as well as the album   The Wall , were banned in   South Africa   in 1980 after it was adopted by supporters of a nationwide school boycott protesting instituted racial inequities in education under   apartheid . [20] [21]


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