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Waiting For the Worms by Pink Floyd

Album: The WallReleased: 1979
  • The lyrics deal with the Nazis and The Holocaust. "Waiting to turn on the showers and fire the ovens" refers to the Nazi death camps. The lyrics also mention the people the Nazis killed: "Waiting for the queens and the coons and the reds and the Jews." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    m - new york, NY
  • Toni Tennille of The Captain & Tennille and Bruce Johnston of The Beach Boys contributed backup vocals. The original plan was to have all members of the Beach Boys harmonize on "The Show Must Go On" and "Waiting for the Worms," but the idea was scrapped. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Joel - Chicago, IL
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Comments: 55

这首歌真的是好歌曲,作为一个90后,听到大师的作品真的很震撼!In China,Pink Floyd still have many fans like me,a college student!Fangzhou - Puyang,henan,china
oh pa-lease. you all are wrong. "the worms" are like the politicians, who are deciding his life for him. because right after waiting for the worms comes the trial. "good morning the worm your honour." no, it has nothing to do with racism, but the idea behind the nazi camps are impressive. but anyway, the worms are politicians. and the people who try to control you. do this dont do that, etc.Catherine - Landrum, Sc
OK...here it is FACT. some of the the lyrics are based on a place in london called brixton, It has become one of the most heavy ethnic populated areas since the 1970s, with the brixton riots in the 1980s,during the 2nd world war britain was held together by ethnic minorities driving buses/tubes/trains and other works needed to keep britain busy,in the wall, pink went through various scenarios in his head, caused by drugs/booze etc, it is literally a way of expressing an emotion in a film/soundtrack,it is not actually about racism, more about pink dwelling on his fathers death in a bunker,Paul - London, United Kingdom
Okay, 'In the flesh' is the begining in which the doctor tells the religiuos groups that Pink can't make it, so they take control. I think Pink was brain washed of some sort and the torture of his youth was a support.In 'Run like hell', the enemies take control and end it all in 'Worms'.Trenton - Oklahoma City, Ok
"MAMMON" would have been an interesting choice, but it's really the blending of the word Hammer with "PINK FLOYD" from the left to right ears and back. It's documented in the various histories of the recording of the album.Terry - Wickford, Ri
Yes... Please bear in mind that everything depicted in this song is METAPHOR... and not meant to be taken literally. Of course there are references to Nazi and Neo-Nazi Fascism, Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), racism and a host of illustrative pigments to communicate the bigger picture of Pink's difficulties with power, materialism, victimization and indeed his own ensuing insanity. Bravo to ALL who have posted, for giving a damn enough to flesh this out with your discussions.

Here's a little food for thought... back when I was in my early teens someone told me that the shouting of the crowd was actually something other than "Hammer" (mind you -- this guy was not an insider, although he was one of the few lucky SOBs who got to see The Wall performed LIVE at one of the scant original tour dates) Anyway, he told me that the crowd was chanting "MAMMON, MAMMON, MAMMON" which made me wonder for years and years what the Hell MAMMON meant! Well -- here it is... for what it's worth:

From Middle English, from Late Latin mammona, from Greek mammonas, from Aramaic mamona (riches). Mammon was personified as a false god in the New Testament.

Now HANG IN THERE -- I'm not pitching Jesus here or anything -- but it seems REALLY interesting...

Apparently in the "sermon on the mount" it was said "No servant can serve two masters," Jesus told his disciples. "For either he will HATE the one and LOVE the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God AND mammon." The implication would be that the crowd is unanimously choosing MAMMON (riches, wealth, power, etc...)

If they are indeed chanting MAMMON, this would be yet another exquisite use of metaphor by Waters to further illustrate this critical tipping point experienced by his main character.

Whether the observation is right or wrong... how can you NOT appreciate a genius like Roger Waters who can spur such rich deconstruction AND produce an AMAZING song in the process! You've just gotta love the guy! Thanks Rog!
Buster - Washington D.c., Md
"Would you like to see Britianna rule again?,my friend.."Jim - Long Beach, Ca
Waters has clearly stated that The Worms is a symbol for negativity and allowing that negativity to creep into your psyche and control you. The worms are referred to in other songs such as Hey You. It's a metaphor. And the Nazi imagery is also a symbol of the negativity taken to the nth degree and the extremity to which Pink's descent into his inner self has gone. You have remember that all of the WWII imagery in the story is one of Pink's ways of connecting his current state with where he comes from. The war shaped his and his country's existence and identity. For years, no one from England could see themselves in any other context. The imagery of the Hammers and the Nazi-esque rallies in this and Run Like Hell and even Goodbye Blue Sky is a powerful storytelling device, but is symbolic. *Not* a literal statement of any kind. How far can a person (or country) go when negativity and fear and paranoi are allowed to run rampant and unchecked and then even institutionalized the way Germany accepted Hitler and the way a rock band is allowed to essentially run roughshod over its audience and say and do anything they want? And what history and trauma would even get an individual or group of individuals to such a low point where those thoughts even form in the brain? *That's* the WormsTerry - Wickford, Ri
this song definately has to do with nazism, but its much more than that. the brilliant thing about The Wall is that it has this very complex story woven into the incredible music, and wwII is somewhat of a "theme" of the story. pink's father was killed in the war *like roger waters's*, and when he finally snaps from the pressures of fame *like syd barrett did*, his past comes back to him, and causes him to turn into a neo nazi, yelling at random minorities at a concert and spreading chaos. i dont think its neccessary to see the movie to really get the story, you just have to listen closely.Chloe - St. Louis, Mo
In the movie, "The Wall", Pink has gone insane and thinks he is a neo nazi. This song is playing during the scene.Lance - Malibu, Ca
i like fink floid and i have his movie,if you notice while he is yelling in the magaphone people seems to be inoring him as his skinheads march down the road, also, i descuverd at 1;16 you hear somthing in the back ground, to me it sounds like it seads "testing" befor pink's speech. Do you think that waiting for the worms is hitler's point of view in his last day in ww2 waiting for the alies?David - Ashland City, Tn
OK, folks! Want to end the speculation?
Want it straight from the horse's mouth?
I heard and recorded this interview when is was originally broadcast. I played it until the tape quality turned to mud. The transcript is quite accurate.
http://www.pink-floyd.org/artint/119.htm
Kevin - Collingswood, Nj
Waiting to turn on the showers
And fire the ovens.
Waiting for the queens and the coons
And the reds and the jews.

Of course this about Nazism! Can you think of anyone else who made people shower in cyanide and cremated others alive?
Kevin - Albany, Or
the hammers cool. magephone.cool. song. cool. pink floyd.best of all bandsRon - De Mones, Ia
My English is not very good, but I suppose it does not matter that much, I agree that people tend to blame EVERYTHING on nazism. But I mean this song and this disc is about that, It is about the way it affected Roger Waters life the death of his father. Who was killed in war. And most people believe Germany started that war by arming up. It is also important that Germany builted ships and brocke the peacearrengement blahblahblah basicaly every one in Europe thinks wwII is the fault of germany. Nazism took his father if you see it that way.Korine - Guatemana, United States
I think that this song, as "In the Flesh" and "Run Like Hell", has something to do with nazism.
It is a heavy criticism of nazism and of all totalitarisms. Don't forget that Pink is having an hallucination at this moment of "The Wall", so Waters and mates associate nazism with insanity and insecurity.
In the movie you can also see the hammers goose stepping, symbolizing the loss of humanity in the totalitarian systems.
Matteo - Milan, Italy
The first time I listened to "The Wall," I loved this and almost every other track on the album. However, it wasn't until I listened to this song again, years later, that I realized why Roger Waters used Nazi Germany as a recurring metaphor for his descent into madness. When you're going insane, you don't realize it, and sometimes others don't notice it at first, either: You implode psychically as a result of what "worms" its way into you. (Very seldom do people go mad over one specific event in their lives.) Similarly, people changed from within, in ways neither they nor others noticed at first, under Nazism. Morally, they decayed from within as a result of something that worked insidiously on them--worms, so to speak. Also, I realized the metaphor works because when people descend into madness, they can easily be manipulated by authoritarian forces, whether they come from outside (e.g., Hitler) or within (as in the case of Pink.) Of course, because the metaphor is powerful, it was inevitable that someone would appropriate it for evil purposes. However, that's not the fault of Roger Waters or anyone else in Pink Floyd.Musicmama - New York, Ny
The worms are the evil powers of the world which find themselves happiest in terms of the capitalist peoples, much like the "pigs" in Animals. Those who follow the worms are much like "sheep." Pink converts to a fascist state because he can no longer bear his life of analyzing and deep thought, because with so much being wrong with the world it is too much to handle. "All you need to do is follow the worms" equates to all it takes to be happy is give up, sell your soul, join the game and just stop thinking about it. All the things which have oppressed him his whole life, which killed his father, trounced his artistic spirit(the schoolmaster), and kept him bound despite his money are now what he decides to become in a temporary and twisted doublethink awakening.

To those saying things about drugs, please shutup. I am not anti-drug in the slightest but you really destroy the respect that Floyd should be getting from people, because they were not influenced by drugs following the 60's, they may have smoked a bit of grass but Waters and Gilmour have each done acid only a couple of times and that was back when Syd was prominent. To relate any of their music to drugs is to not only make yourself look very stupid, but to reduce their immeasurable complexity into nothing but shallow rock BS. The Wall movie, despite being very good, is an incredible misinterpretation of the album, and Waters was quite pissed about it, too. Please do some critical thinking for yourselves instead of just hearing what media, stupid people and you're high friends tell you its about.
Steveb - Spokane, Wa
okay, before i go into a rant on the pink floyd=nazis strain, i want to clear up a few lyrical issues: 1. at the beginning, he's shouting "eins, zwei, drie, alle!" which translates: "1, 2, 3, all!" in german. 2. the chanting of the crowd is "hammer", the symbol of fascist pink's organization. 3. it's "waiting to follow the worms". 4. it's "waiting for the queers (homosexuals) and the coons (people of african descent) and the reds and the jews. now, as for the main topic discussed here: the band is NOT in any way a bunch of nazis. in fact, they were very much anti-war. the song, although it has many references to the nazi ideas, is not about nazism. it's about the fictional character Pink Floyd, whose story the album is about, after he goes completely insane and mentally descends into his fascist dictator personality.Achory - Warner Robins, Ga
I think that Pink has already gone insane. This is why he razors off his eyebrows and joins the nazis. He feels a need to belong but is not in the right frame of mind. The footage is real and the guys throwing stuff are real nazis. For proof go to Internet Movie Database and read the trivia section.Joel - Columbia, Sc
If you take the wall as being based on Roger's own life, and look at the comment he made then it seems that the song is a metaphor for the dictator in Roger. The lyrics make obvious reference to Nazism (even to 'the final solution) which complete the metaphor. The dictator in Roger would be the one who wanted that crowd of however many thousand people o shut up and listen to his music, the one that spat in the face of the fan in the front row.Ian - Cardiff, Wales
I listen to this when im angry at the world...idk why i do i love how the make the voices and break it down and the stuff about britania ruleing agianMadalyn - Greensburg, Pa
I think I read somewhere that Tipper Gore accused this song, along with others, of advocating suicide.Mike - Germantown, Md
On the surface I would agree that this song is about Nazis. But you have to look deeper than that. What did the Nazis stand for? What did they do that was so horrible--and most importantly, WHY? The band had a message they wanted to convey, and they used the SYMBOL of the Nazis to get it through. Is it just about the Nazis? I'd say not. They are using nazism as a metaphor, as a way to relate their "Wall" message.Karen - Radford, Va
many people here said it's nothing to do about nazism, so why in the begining of the song pink speaks german??? think about that little fact.
each song in the wall is based on something from the real life, mostlly roger's life. this song is about the nazim and the holocust, pink's story is the way that roger waters express himself about different things. for example the hammers are a metaphore for the "hooked cross" (the nazy symbole), pink's story is a metaphore for real things not about the metaphore it's self.
Guy - Tel Aviv, Israel
This song represents Pinks further decent into maddnes...in my view (ive never seen the movie so i dont know the actauly view) he is at a concert (in the outside world) during "In The Flesh" and then during Run like Hell the scene is set in his phycie..Waiting for the worms is the dictator pink trying to get rid of all the feelings that Pink experiences..."stop" is a birst of Pink coming to his senses...and "the Trial" is the worm pesecuting him for having feelins (i.e "caught red handed showing feelings...")Jeff - Sothington, Ct
This following lyrics is what is said on the loud speaker after the WAiting chanting
Waiting to cut out the deadwood.
Waiting to clean up the city.
Waiting to follow the worms.
Waiting to put on a black shirt.
Waiting to weed out the weaklings.
Waiting to smash in their windows
And kick in their doors.
Waiting for the final solution
To strengthen the strain.
Waiting to follow the worms.
Waiting to turn on the showers
And fire the ovens.
Waiting for the queens and the coons
and the reds and the jews.
Waiting to follow the worms.
Matty - Adelaide - Australia, Australia
The whole album the wall cam to mind after playing a concert in toronto and i spit in the face of a fan who tried to climb on stage, at that moment i thought i have become some kind of monster, the album has nothing to do with Nazis or nazism. ill let u figure what it is really about
Rog
Roger - Long Island, Ny
Great f***ing song, never really appreciated it until recently but this song made me relise how much of a genius the band was.Sully - Clinton, Ma
My interpretation: 1st part- Pink has built the "wall" keeping out those who hurt him. This gives him a sense of power, since "no matter how they try" they can't get him.
2nd part- Is about his wishes to cleanse the world of those who are different (and thats anyone whos hurt him, which is everyone since no one would help him)
3rd part- His wishes for his father to return and everything to be as it was before WWII.

Finally, the song has nothing to do with Nazism but uses it as a symbol of power. Why do you think they chose a hammer for the groups symbol in the movie? Hammers aren't known for being gentle, it's a symbol of Pinks new power.
Chris - Hamilton, Canada
The is Floyd's greatest album by far. Waiting for the Worms is definatly open to interpretation, but I think the worms represent desperation, oppression, corruption and devestation. The way the worms bore their way into society leaving black holes where there once was peace and contentment. The feeling of worms crawling over your body when you're coming down and don't have another fix. The worms represent the government, judges, and elected officials who are motivated by hatred, greed, and bigotry. They create more worms with each new follower and each new black hole they make. The feeling of desolation when you realize that there is nothing left to do but wait for the worms....Idrow - Hewitt, Nj
For those who want to know what Pink is saying thru the megaphone, i found a site that had it (www.pink-floyd-lyrics.com) and it looks like they check out.


Part between the lines, "waiting for the worms to come" and "waiting...":
"We're {waiting to succeed} and going to convene outside Brixton Town Hall where we're going to be... ".

rantings at the end of the song:
"The Worms will convene outside Brixton Bus Station. We'll be moving along at about 12 o'clock down Stockwell Road {.... ......} {Abbot's Road } {.....} twelve minutes to three we'll be moving along Lambeth Road towards Vauxhall Bridge. Now when we get to the other side of Vauxhall Bridge we're in Westminster {Borough } area. It's quite possible we may encounter some {.....} by the way we go. {... ..}."
Elies - Surrey, Canada
I too would like to know the rantings over Pink's megaphone in between the "waiting" chorus. It seems to be about meeting at the town hall at 1:16 (1:16 seems fairly discernable in these rantings). What an incredible execution of his lust for dictatorship......getting louder and louder in a crescendo (or is it glisando?), the crowd calling out "Hammer" starting with few and ending with many and louder (very symbolic when you think of Hitler's few followers in the 30's and hishuge mulitude of them in the war!), and all coming to a halt. As for you all worried of the Nazism, relax, it's metaphorical, even if it does coincide with real events.Patrick - Ottawa, Ks
"Put on a black shirt" is a reference to the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s, whose stormtroopers wore black shirts, instead of brown like the Nazis.Bill - Erie, Pa
according to the waters interview its just about pink going crazy and treating his fans really badly. its not about nazism or what the band really thinks.Jeanette - Irvine, Ca
At the end of the song, as the animated hammers are marching, the chorus is chanting "Hammer! Hammer! Hammer!" etc.Patrick - Tallapoosa, Ga
James, Roger Waters says that he was just making things up as he went along when he was saying that.

Besides that, I believe that it represents the dictator Pink, and that he is planning to cleanse his country by removing anyone who is different... "The coons, people that have spots, people smoking joints," ect by way of turning on the showers with poison and fire the incinerators. He would have done it in "In The Flesh", but he obviously did not have the power: "If I had it my way, I'd have all of you shot.", then in "Run Like Hell", he gains more power over Pink, and finally ends up gaining almost entire control by the end of "Waiting For The Worms", but control is reliquished in "Stop." Just before the quick "Stop", the "hammer" may be to try and block out the good Pink.
Ed - London, Canada
at 1:26 mins into the song, between the lines "Waiting for the worms to come" and "Waiting to cut out the deadwood" there is some shouting (thru a megaphone possibly) that is almost unintelligable. does anybody know wot is sed? i cant seem to find it on any lyrics websites.James - Sydney, Australia
WAITING, foooooooooooooor the worms WAITNG awesome songPhil - Niagara Falls, Canada
The people who think this song is all about the nazis should hire a DVD of PINK FLOYD THE WALL & watch it.

(repost)
James - Sydney, Australia
The people who this this song is *just* about hitler and/or the nazis really should watch PINK FLOYD THE WALL (the movie).
rent the DVD & listen to the commentary.

or go here --> http://home.mchsi.com/~ttint/
James - Sydney, Australia
The worms are the leaders of the allies. Waiting for the worms is hitlet hiding in his bunker waiting for the "worms" (Waters uses this term for the leaders due to the fact that he believe that his fathers life was wasted by them, listem to "felcher memorile home" to hear his true dislike for them)The seconed part of the song is about the natzis "clensing" GermanyWilliam - Boston, Ma
i think the song is about hitler actually cuz in the 1st few lines in to the song its says" siting in a bunker here behind my wall waiting for the worms to come" and hitler was hiding in a bunker when the soviets were closisng in on him and he new that this was the end of his final soltion thus "watinign for the worms to come" so he killed himself but thats just waht i think and its also oviasly about nazis and the worldwar2Dan - Appleton, Wi
Just read the post below my first one, and would like to point out that in essence, this song only appears in the album *because* Pink is aware of the atrocities committed during the second world war...Rob - Bristol, England
No no no no NO. You've all missed the critical point here. The three songs on the album (The Wall), "In The Flesh (Pt. 2)", "Run Like Hell" and "Waiting For The Worms" are everything and nothing to do with Nazism.

At this point in the album's narrative, the character of Pink has descended so far into his insanity that he becomes the very thing that killed his father, and so many others...he turns into Dictator Pink.

Roger Waters and Bob Ezrin staged these three songs as a satire, remarking upon the irony in it. It's important to remark here that Pink Floyd are not a racist rock group, and also, that the film The Wall doesn't have much, if anything, to do with Nazism. It's far deeper than that, and the best thing you can do for any of these three songs is to listen to them in context.

I could go on here, and wax lyrical about a philosophical point of view; what drove Hitler to form the Nazi party, and was any of it due to similar emotions that the character Pink is portrayed as having, but as that's a highly controversial point, and as a lot of people, particularly Americans (meaning no offence and intending to draw NO ambiguities here) don't seem to cope well with it, I'll stop.
Rob - Bristol, England
If you read the lyrics, then you'll find the song is about the Nazis. Seems like our friend is one of those guys that thinks the holocaust never happened.Jerrod Cumberland - Butler, Pa
"Waiting for the Worms" marks the final takeover of Pink's "Dictator" personallity, a combination of his chaotic and his orderly side. This personallity, which first appeared after Comfortably Numb, was born of the people that want to control him, and of his desire to break free. The first voice is of the inner Pink, but then his dictator side regains control, and starts shouting Nazi-esque orders through a bullhorn. At the end, Pink finally comes to his senses adn decides enough is enough. As an added fact, the hammer symbol is often used by Neo-Nazi Skinheads.Ryan - Largo, Fl
Waiting for the worms is a saying in the music world.Once the drugs where off worms enter your head.Look at The Wall film and see how many drugs you can find.Mark - Moscow, Europe
I always thought this was about Pink has the Wall comepletely done, and he's just waiting for death to come. The 'worms' are literal, i.e., after you die, the worms eat you up. But this plan has a wrench thrown into it when the worm is judging at The Trial. Unless Pink is dead at the trial?Chris - One Step Closer To Death, Al
How could this not be about Nazism? Clearly this album has a lot to do with WWII and then the references to "Put on a black shirt" - Obviously talkin about Hitlers Brown shirts then Weeding out the weakling - the jews do to their small percent that makes up Germany, Smash in their windows and kick in their doors - Kristalnacht, the final solution to strangthen the strain..hitlers Aryan races , turning on the showers and firing the ovens......HOW DOES THIS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH NAZISM?Eliot - Huntington, In
i think this song has multiple meanings...definatly has something to do with nazis, in the movie when this song comes on a bunch of nazis start marching down the street. I think the insanity factor has alot to do with it, because also in the movie you can see that pink really isn't what you would call a regular human being. Drugs probably play a factor in this song as well because we all know the entire band was into all that. Definatly one of my favorite songs by far.Dennis - Hicksville, Ny
Waiting for the worms is used for when the drugs are about to wear off and you have that dark feeling come over you.Mark - Moscow, United States
thomas, have you ever seen the movie? It has alot to do with nazism.Bob - Mt. Laurel, Nj
No, the meaning of "Waiting for the worms: is far deeper. It was a stage in Pink's life when he was influenced by many things and couldn't do more than wait for the worms (insanity) to completely consume him. I hate it when everything bad has to be refered to nazism. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH NAZISM!Stop trying to blame it all on them.Thomas - Toronto, Canada
Waiting for the worms basically means waiting to go insane and the nazis to come for you.Seth - Hebron, Ky
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