Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” Lyrics Meaning

Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” is divided into three parts, all hovering around the same theme. In this song, the narrator systematically reveals the major events in his life that cause him and many other people to detach themselves mentally from the outside world. That is to say, he literally uses those reasons as ‘bricks’ to build a wall. And this wall separates and at the same time protects him from being hurt by the rest of the world.

Part 1

Centered on the Second World War era, the narrator describes his childhood as a rather traumatic one in which his father leaves him to go and fight the war. His father never returns since he gets killed, and leaves this little child with nothing but a memory, and an old photo in his family album. This pain of having been abandoned by his father becomes the first brick he builds up to face people as he grows up.

Part 2

In the second part, the narrator recalls his schooling days where his ‘evil’ teachers wanted nothing but to control him to do things in a particular way. He describes the teachers in a negative light. He apparently feels they gain some kind of gratification from mentally abusing and punishing children. The chorus urges a protest by kids against this kind of fixed technique which immaturely impedes creativity in young children.

The narrator also depicts the nature of certain behavioral controls that were introduced in schools during that period. Children were only served the extra pudding attached to their lunch if only they finished their lunch first. This kind of conditioning seems to have had an adverse effect on the singer who eventually qualifies it as another brick in the wall.

Part 3

This is the last straw that breaks the camel’s back, and probably the most painful. The narrator can’t deal with his sadness/depression anymore. He now transitions into a defensive state where he does not want to have anything to do with people. Having no arms around signifies denying himself of any sort of comfort. He concludes that he does not need anything at all and justifies his motives for isolating himself with the wall he has built.

Another Brick in the Wall

Meaning of “Another Brick in the Wall”: By Another Hand

First off it should be noted that this track is part of a concept album entitled “The Wall”.  The “wall” itself is a metaphor for the psychological barrier (i.e. isolation) the singer has put around himself. The “brick(s)”, on the other hand, represent the individual traumas which made him withdraw even further.

The reader should also be made aware that the singer is taking on the role of a fictional character named Pink. 

And in “Part 1” of “Another Brick in the Wall”, Pink is reeling from the death of his father, who was a casualty of World War II.  Yet the singer perceives it rather as his dad having deserted him. And this ordeal represents one of the “bricks in the wall”.

In “Part 2”, Pink goes on a tirade against the educational system. And he perceives the doctrine being taught (which is tantamount to “thought control”) as well as harassment by teachers to be additional “brick(s) in the wall”.

And in “Part 3” he seems to be shunning the idea, through mediation or drug use, of ever getting over these psychological disturbances. Indeed he does not “need anything at all”.  Instead he appears to rather accept the idea that disturbing parts of his childhood “were all just bricks in the wall”.

Conclusion

So basically, this song recounts the psychological traumas that the singer has gone through in his youth, which caused him to withdraw from the world.

“Another Brick in the Wall Part 2”

The most-popular section of the three-part “Another Brick in the Wall” is actually “Part 2”. That part came in at number 384 on Rolling Stone’s list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” (2007).  Thus when people refer to this song, they are usually referencing this particular part.

In “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2”, Pink Floyd used a choir from Islington Green School (since renamed City of London Academy Islington). The band didn’t make any type of contract for sharing its royalties with the students.  However, the children (as adults) later sued for such in 2004 after the United Kingdom modified its copyright laws in 1996.

And it is understandable that they would want a piece of the pie, as this song has proven to be a major international hit. Furthermore, it is Pink Floyd’s most-renowned track. For instance, it is the only song they ever dropped to top the the UK Singles Chart, as well as the Billboard Hot 100. And it also managed to replicate this feat in over 10 other countries.

An additional fun fact is that, being released in late 1979 (30 November), “Another Brick in the Wall” was the United Kingdom’s final number one song of the 1970s.

Ban in South Africa

Amongst the many countries where this song reached number one is apartheid-era South Africa. In that African country, on 2 May 1980 the government actually banned this song due to its perceived ‘revolutionary’ message. Meanwhile Roger Waters has denied that “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2” was meant to be interpreted as such.

However it was reportedly intended to be “a protest against rigid schooling and boarding schools in particular”. FYI, Waters himself attended Cambridgeshire School for Boys in England.

Who wrote “Another Brick in the Wall”?

Pink Floyd’s own Roger Waters wrote the song. He also produced it alongside regular collaborators James Guthrie, Bob Ezrin and bandmate David Gilmour.

Release Date

“Another Brick in the Wall” came out as part of Pink Floyd’s 1979 album “The Wall”.  It was published by Harvest Records in the United Kingdom and Columbia Records in the United States.

5 Responses

  1. Meya Collings says:

    How come anybody don’t have education or thought control?

  2. Anonymous says:

    This song resonates with me today, here in the United States, as we have a public education system that is indoctinating our children with “thought control”, “dark sarcasm”, and teachers (schools) gromming them with narratives and agendas that no child should be exposed too.

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