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Album: The WallReleased: 1979
The movie The Wall is a semi-autobiographical story about a young boy that loses his father in the war and is raised by his overly protective mother. The child grows up alone as an outsider that absolutely does not fit in. He feels trapped by his overly protective environment while being shunned by the men around him.
Roger Waters: "If you can level one accusation at mothers, it is that they tend to protect their children too much. Too much and for too long. This isn't a portrait of my mother, although one or two of the things in there apply to her as well as to I'm sure lots of other people's mothers."
Waters told Mojo magazine December 2009: "The song has some connection with my mother, for sure, though the mother that Gerald Scarfe visualises in his drawings couldn't be further from mine. She's nothing like that." (For the film version of The Wall, cartoonist Gerald Scarfe visualised the mother as a huge monstrous woman with a brick-wall bosom.)
Waters went on to admit to Mojo that the overly protective suffocating mother portrayed in the song has some similarities to his own mum. He said: "My mother was suffocating in her own way. She always had to be right about everything. I'm not blaming her. That's who she was. I grew up with a single parent who could never hear anything I said, because nothing I said could possibly be as important as what she believed. My mother was, to some extent, a wall herself that I was banging my head against. She lived her life in the service of others. She was a school teacher. But it wasn't until I was 45, 50 years old that I realised how impossible it was for her to listen to me."
Mojo asked Waters if his mother saw herself in the song? He replied: "She's not that recognisable. The song is more general, the idea that we can be controlled by our parents' views on things like sex. The single mother of boys, particularly, can make sex harder than it needs to be."
Pearl Jam performed this song on September 30, 2011 as part of a week long Pink Floyd tribute on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The Shins, Foo Fighters, MGMT, and Dierks Bentley all played Pink Floyd songs on the show that week.
Pink Floyd's drummer Nick Mason didn't play on this track. According to Roger Waters, this was because Mason had trouble with the 5/4 time signatures and other changes, as "his brain doesn't work that way." Jeff Porcaro, who was a session drummer and also a member of the band Toto, took his place. Mason was also replaced on drums (this time by Andy Newmark) on the track "Two Suns in the Sunset
" from the album The Final Cut
Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines recorded a cover version in 2013 which was the title track to her first solo album. She decided to cover the song after hearing Roger Waters perform it on his Wall tour. Waters loved her rendition, telling Rolling Stone, "I get goosebumps just talking about it."