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Welcome To The Machine by Pink Floyd

Album: Wish You Were HereReleased: 1975
  • This is about the money-grubbing record producers and managers controlling the band, which contributed to Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett's mental collapse. The world around him was like a machine: the fans, the group, the record industry. They told him what to do and when to do it so they would become successful. The Wish You Were Here album revolves around Syd Barrett and what contributed to his collapse. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Christopher - Nashville, UT
  • This song features a very rare music video only played during concerts. It features a particularly visceral depiction featuring corpses, rats, death, and waves of blood. The video was drawn by hand by Floyd's old friend, Gerald Scarfe. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    steve - Cedar Grove, NJ
  • Metal band Shadows Fall covered this in 2003 on their Art Of Balance album. Aside from replacing most of the synthesizers with guitars, the cover is rather close to the original version, with clean vocals and acoustic guitar. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    wil - Brentwood, TN
  • This features prominently in the Season 4 finale of the TV series Person of Interest, when an artificial intelligence known as The Machine is under threat from a more powerful AI.
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Comments: 47

"Scouting For Boys" is of course a book about scouting (which also happens to push the idea that kids are "bricks in a wall"). While Steve is right that it has some regressive ideas about sexuality (like masturbation being worse than alcoholism), I think Roger Waters uses this book as a symbol of conformity.Mumpfucious - Colorado
This is really one of those songs that is better left unexplained. Why? First, the lyrics themselves are quite sparse - really not enough in them to tell a story or even sketch out a picture. But the hints they give force the listener to fill in the gaps then the songs becomes theirs. Let's not forget the music itself which is so compelling, mysterious and unique that it leads an active mind to think and wonder. If we really were to find out exactly what this song means, how it was written, who it was about, it would undoubtedly burst our bubble, shatter the fascinating story that we invented for ourselves.Tim - Clarkdale
The sound at the end of the song sounds is a synth of an air raid siren.Marshall - Fl
If you actually listen between parts 5:04 to 6:30 with the marching hammers animation it truly shows what the modern day pop, rap music is to kids. I always thought that this was foretelling the future of what bad taste of music is to come. Keep it up Floyd and shine on!Drake - Huntington Beach, Ca
I had just joined the Navy assigned to subs when this album came out. I took this song as life on a Sub - literally! Fits perfectly.Vic - Wharton, Nj
i think ive come to realize the whole theme behind wish you were here including the meaning behind this song. Shine on you crazy diamond is basically the overture or syd barret. Welcome to the Machine is his entrance into this machine like world. Have a cigar is his entrance into the music business and then wish you were here was after we went crazy and left. at least thats what i got out of it.Mark - Rockaway, Nj
I love the intro, the sounds of machinery and all. I was riding a ferry in The Pudget Sound and I stuck my head into the engine room, those big Diesels pounding away, I thought of the song right away!Jojo - Hill Field, Ut
The loss of Syd was a huge blow to the music world, nobody will argue that. But honestly I don't know if Pink Floyd would have become the band they did if he never went insane and stayed with the band. A lot of their best stuff is about or at least related to Syd and his spiral into insanity. I'm not saying that Pink Floyd wouldn't be considered pioneers of art rock if he hadn't lost it, but I don't know how universally popular they would have been. Syd has been the inspiration for some of the best music of all time. Who knows hat would have happened if he had never left the band.Jon - Mishawaka, In
i think it has a million meanings, personally...when he wrote it, im sure he was thinking about the music business, and how the pressure of it all eventually destroyed syd from the inside out. but its also about authority in general- "its alright, we know where you've been" "its alright, we told you what to dream". kind of carries the same theme of the three Another Brick in the Wall parts.Chloe - St. Louis, Mo
the first chord the guy plays on the acoustic guitar in this song is an upstroke, i dont know if it means anything thoughTimmy - Mukilteo, Wa
People attribute syd's mental collapse to his addiction to drugs. but from personal experience i can say that drugs alone can never screw a person up so bad. syd was in immense psychological trauma the drugs simply screwed with his head and that is why he lost it! i weep for our loss for he would have been great. the drugs are not to blame, this screwed up world is the main reason . this world is also a machine that drives people like clockwork,by world i mean the rules and laws that govern our very life, its not the laws that would get u into jail but laws like the correct way of interacting on the first day to school, the protocol u need to follow to get into the 'cool' gang and the likes...the machine is so successful because the people it affects are the very things that run this machine, though we just don't know it yet.Rohan - Delhi, India
"Scouting for Boys" is a famous book about... you guessed it: Scouting... so its main theme certainly wasn't the male sexuality ;-)

Martin - Rostock, Germany
'Scouting for Boys' was a Victorian book on male sexuality with the basic idea that men had a certain amount of seman like women have a certain amount of eggs. Another central theme for the book was that masturbation led to idiocy. So, the lyrics "provided w/ toys and Scouting for Boys" signifies you have been given distractions and reason to avoid human contact/experiences. Duh.Steve - Boston, Ma
i listen to this song every day one of the best songs ever. pink floyd is my favorite band.Joe - Norristown, Pa
I'm going to take issue with what Rusty said about the structure of the word Government. while "ment" is some words does indeed refer to the mind, I'm pretty sure that in this application it does not. Pretty neat double entendre though, I suppose.Dante - Milwaukee, Wi
I never, never, never ever get sick of hearing this song. Best use of synths in my opinion.Fish - Edmonton, Ab
this song is about the government they know where "my son" has been and ron is right on about the military meaning... the government is a "machine" that controls everyones mind and life govern means control ment is a form of mental or mind... mindcontrolRusty - Eureka, Ks
People all here have seemed to miss the most important part of why pink floyd is so incredible to so many people.

Taking this song for example. The lyrics lead to a few thoughts (greed, profit, and a sense of war) (business is a kind of economic war)

The sound effects used helps to push mental images of 'future', 'space' and 'technology'

It also pushes marketing or more business images when we talk about Steak Bar, Jaguar (things people would not want if there was no business and marketing/advertising

The Album as a whole leads to talk about Syd Barret's meltdown, and cooperate greed (Syd having more money for the drugs that killed his mind)

I think the 3 major ideas expressed
grim future (war)
and the suggestion that we are all just slaves to a machine and your doomed to accept and join it.

Anyways i kinda got specific there, Why pink floyd is so successful is because they manage to fit many ideas and concepts within the same songs.

This leads to more likely (fit many needs) and have a much broader appeal
Drew - Niagara , On
Not too many people have heard of this song,my boyfriend; who is a hardcore pink floyd fan, hasn't even heard it before. Classic Pink Floyd with the really long, extended, mechanical sounding beginningAllie - Holly, Mi
Honestly, I thought the song was about the military just judging by one part where he says "Provided with toys and 'Scouting for Boys'.
You bought a guitar to punish your ma,
And you didn't like school"

the "toys" meaning weapons, "scouting for boys" like recruiters and "you didn't like school" a large chunk of boys dropping out of high school joining the military
Ron - Mount Holly, Nj
I have the least important bit of trivia about this song: when they started recording the vocals, Gilmour discovered the song was just outside of his vocal range (he couldn't hit the highest note in "welcooooome"). Instead of changing the tune or even worse, rerecording the whole song in a lower key, they just sped up his vocals by one semitone.Scott - Portland, Or
great lyrics of courseShelby - Out Beyond The Wall, Ky
If someone could tell me somewhere i could find the video for this songJordan Bowlus - Knoxville, Tn
This song is great but is is by far not floyd at there best. Shine on is my fav song on wish you were here. i also agree with micheal from Kearny, NJ.Jeremiah - Philadelphia, Vt
"at the end: express elivater back to the party..." Can anybody explain what this is referring to?Annabelle - Eugene, Or
Can someboby please explain the connection between the video and the song ? To me the monster is the 'son', and he is being welcomed to the machine of which he was always a part. The next part of the video really describes the machine but the song goes onto tell the son's aspirations.The bloodshed in the video is how really the machine uses humanity for its purposes but then the bloody hands show how humanity can supports the machine, which in the end is shown to be a part of a bigger plan , (merging into into the spaceship).... :))Mayukh - Stamford, Ct
Think about Roger Waters here, guys. His father died in World War II. It's a major subject in The Wall and especially in The Final Cut. Listening to this song in a new light, suddenly, it sounds like his dead father speaking to him, welcoming him into the coldness of the world - or to Purgatory...but what's the difference, really?Joe Public - Anytown, Al
The music buisness message is obvious, but I think that "Machine" has a much deeper, society-based meaning. We know where you've been. We told you what to dream. You've just been filling in time in the pipeline, enjoying a blissfuly ignorant childhood filled with toys and "scouting for boys." But now you're all grown up, and a part of this controlling society. So welcome, my son, to the machine.Nathan - Austin, Tx
This song and "Have A Cigar" are both complaints about the over-commercialization of the music business. While these kind of songs are sometimes a bit hard to swallow from millionaire rock stars, in Floyd's case it works, and the two sonfs are quite poignant because their founder Syd Barrett didn't survive his encounter with that side of the musical profession.Bill - Erie, Pa
This song is so spooky and cool. I love the line "you bought a guitar to punish you mom."Bridget - Montreal, Canada
at the end: express elivater back to the party...John - Seattle, Wa
This song has such a great underrated solo. In my opinion this song is the best off wish you were hereJames - Toronto, Canada
I agree this is spacerock at its finest and, it tells of how to music business controls all of what the release and pressures the band which at this point is enormously succesful.David - New York, Ny
It might be about business and how the media is trying to create the band but also if u look at the lyrics its talking about a kid whos parents are always watching for example : "welcome my son welcome to the machine , where have you been its okay we know where youve been" also its about how the media and parents try to create people which is saying the media,parents,teachersauthoritys of all kinds are the machine : Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.
What did you dream? it?s alright we told you what to dream.
You dreamed of a big star, he played a mean guitar,
He always ate in the steak bar. he loved to drive in his jaguar.
So welcome to the machine.
Jonny - Omaha, Ne
It"s about music business!!!!!!!!John - Zagreb
The song is about life in a hugley sucsuful band. The record execs want to control what you realse. A good examople is the WYWH album itself. The record companies wanted a follow up to Dark Side but Pink FLoyd refused and did something entirely different

'scouting for boys' is just a different and more peotical way to say boy scouts. It fits the rythem much better
Erik - Cherry Valley, Il
although the lyrics (except for welcome to the machine) don't really back up that theory. its more the general mood of the song with a "welcome to the machine" stuck in the middle that makes me think its about a futuristic society.Jeanette - Irvine, Ca
a negative futuristic society.Jeanette - Irvine, Ca
hey stephanie from denver i always thought it was about a futuristic society too.Jeanette - Irvine, Ca
The protagonist of the song was biding his time with childhood toys and Boy Scouts. That's what it means.Bill - Erie, Pa
Now what is meant by him saying "scouting for boys"? is this band members or does it have some other hidden meaning?William - Boston, Ma
This song is space rock at it,s finest.The keyboard sequeces between the verses and outro are truly mind blowing.Just relax have a smoke throw this tune(or album for full effect)on the player and turn it up.This song is ominious and beautiful at the same time.Andrew - Toronto
I always thought this song was about a futuristic societyStephanie - Denver, Co
I always thought it was about the music business too.Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
I always percieved this song as some ominous power talking to a boy who has been completely produced to be an apiring musician, and now that his time has come to make it, the executives are welcoming him into the mechanical existance of recording - touring - recording - touring, the Machine. the band themselves were suffering from a lack of familiarity between them at this point, and fatigued from touring Dark Side Of The Moon at the point of recording Wish You Were Here.Keewa - Fairbanks, Al
I think the issue here, as with a lot of Floyd's music, is that the true story behind the song is much more complex than any simple "Oh, it's about ___" answer can give. The Machine clearly does relate both to the general greed and machine-like impersonalism of the record industry; but it also relates to how that affected the band, and Syd Barrett in particular, when they first became "popular" (i.e. marketable). Syd was an artist at heart and clearly emotionally vulnerable (the drug use is part cause, part symptom here) - the pressure to give the fans what they now "expected" by playing the "hits" rather than the free-form art they were trying to create surely created a conflict for the entire band, as it does for many musicians, and seems to have been a big factor in Syd's reaction. I am sure even my "analysis" does not do justice to the true complexities of the story. But the genius of the song and the album is its ability to take these complexities and make art out of them: art that illuminates without needing to explain.Ken - Elizabethtown, Ny
I thought drugs led to Syd Barret's mental collapse. At the time of their first album the band hadn't yet struck gold. By the time of their second album, Syd was already losing it. Pink Floyd started to become financially successful around 1970 or 71, long after Syd was gone from the band (before then they had more of a cult following around London).
A lot of fans think this song is about Hell or Purgatory. The machine is actually the music business. It's like the big-wig record exec's saying, "Welcome to the business, now that you've made it, start cranking out hits singles, albums and sell-out tours, and we'll keep you in the high life".
Michael - Kearny, Nj
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