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Careful With That Axe, Eugene

by

Pink Floyd



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This was released as the B-side of the single, "Point Me At The Sky." The title is a reference to the first line of that song: "Hey, Eugene, this is Henry McClean."
A shorter version of this song appeared on the Relics compilation in 1971. (thanks, Jim - Oxnard, CA, for above 2)
There are minimal vocals in this song: just the title whispered, followed by a maniacal scream by Roger Waters. Pink Floyd used this scream again at the beginning of "Another Brick In The Wall (part II)" and throughout "Run Like Hell." (thanks, Andy - Bellevue, WA)
Ummagumma was a double album, with one disc of live performances and the other record divided into four sections devoted to songs by each band member. This track appears on the first disc as a live version. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
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Comments (29):

the original version on Relics isin't so bad but when you hear the Umma Gumma version it becomes a whole other beast,i had friends over at my apt back when i 1st heard it in the mid 80's and my friends did not like the song as they were more into def leppard or guns and roses....lol.....i've always had very odd and different taste in music than most people do
- wayne, Dallas, TX
Before shooting for the film Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii it was discovered by Director Adrian Maben that they would not have enough electricty available on site as The Pink Floyd needed lots of power to create their music. They had to get special permission and needed extra staff to run power lines on the ground all the way from town (almost a mile) with people watching over them not to be disturbed and for safety reasons. It almost didn't happen
Cliff Oakdale NY
- cliff, oakdale, NY
All you can say is "Wow"
- stacey sven dillinger, Houston, TX
This song is a Masterpiece...both technically and emotionally. The way it moves from a sleepy lullaby to intense hard rock and then back to a lullaby is simply astounding. The emotional gradient is seamless...sharp...and says so much with so little words - and that scream!
If you've ever played in a band or written music...you'll know how hard this is to achieve. Of course, like so many other things...the Floyd do it superbly. My favourite version is Pompeii.
- RUN415, Adelaide, Australia
"Careful with that axe, Eugene" was also named "Murderistic women", "Keep the smiling, people", "Careful with that pipe wrench, Larry". You can find them on different bootlegs:)

As for me, brrrr, mad of this track. I have not counted how many versions i have listened to, it's always different and always amazing!!! Unreal
- Ani, Yerevan, Armenia
The Ummagumma version was simply a live (although much better) version that was part of the setlist captured on that album in 1969. They re-recorded it again for Zabriskie Point in 1970 (calling it "Come in No. 51, Your Time is Up"...not a working title - that was the name of the song they made for the film) and despite the other songs they made for the soundtrack, the growing cult popularity of 'Eugene' was most likely the reason they were asked to do the film. They were now dabbling in and specializing in what a band could do improvising around one or two chords, exploring dynamics. There was no particular backstory - it was just a descriptive title. And the notion of Syd (or Roger!) trashing a hotel is nonsense. Not *everything* in The Wall is based on actual fact...But, it was agreed by the band that 'Eugene' was a much better live piece and Nick Mason called the original recording, lightweight "jogalong" stuff. Things like Eugene and Saucerful of Secrets were the band moving away from the pop sounds that Barrett did better than any of them could do and finding their own sound away from him. Waters was not yet a confident songwriter, so this period of the band sees much more "band" compositions based on jams. Set The Controls was a shot across the bow that showed what Roger would become capable of later on.
- Terry, Wickford, RI
Just an amazing, creepy and creative song of Pink Floyd. Roger Waters is a god, the screams, the tune, the composition in great. Only for sharp tastes..
- Juan Diego, Lima, Peru
The Ummagumma version of this song is spine-tingling and AMAZING. While most of the studio side of Ummagumma (with the exception or Roger Water's two contributions) sucked, the live side, especially this song and "Astronomy Domine" is simply awesome. It just shows how great and powerful a live band early Floyd was.
- Brad, Lexington, KY
i know the feeling, brian and shadow. its like being a little kid again- "its just a song....its just a song.....its just a song...." haha.
- chloe, St. Louis, MO
Perhaps my favorite album of this period, though it's hard to say really..all their albums are so creative.
- Frank, Granchester Meadows, Greenland
always Loved the scream in the intro.
- Sam, Hipsville, CA
This is one of the first songs to signify a marked departure from the shadow of Syd. Roger's brooding influence is beginning to be felt as well as David finding a style that would become all his own.
- Stephanie Gallo, Schnecksville, PA
One of my best friends got her first tattoo while listening to this - she was really nervous. The tattoo artist was really cool and suggested some music might help. She told me later as I chickened out getting anything - that it was almost like a religious experience.
- Linc, Beaumont, TX
As usual, the live versions of this smoke the studio versions.
The Ummagumma version is pretty decent, but the Pompeii version is superior.
The Munster, Germany 1970 version is noteworthy, and the Toronto 1973 version is my favorite, with Roger nearly making the hairs stand up, then jump right off my arms, to run away in fear!
This piece was also one of the bands' favorites, with them performing it from 1968 all the way until Vienna, Austria in 1973.
They performed it only once after that...May 9, 1977, Oakland, CA.
- oldpink, New Castle, IN
try driving up Pikes Peak highway in the fog while listening to this...will blow your mind! Thats what Marie and I did back in 81. She's gone but Pikes Peak is still there....
- doug, kansas city, MO
In England in the 60s there was a same series of ax murders. After the fourth murder the suspect whose name was "Eugene Craft" was caught, trailed, and found guilty. True story. Being "Careful" would refer to the killings.
- Patrick, Chicago, IL
yes, absolutely awesome. I'm convinced that in tracks like 'Careful with that axe' and 'Set the Controls', Floyd were exploring territory that few other musicians, before or since, have even come close to...treading the sharp edge between beauty and terror, order and chaos, the holy and the unholy, the terrestrial and the totally alien. A hymn becomes a scream, becomes a nightmare, becomes a lullaby. There is a moment in the dying minutes of the Ummagumma version of 'Careful with that axe' when the music, once again soothing and blissful, is marred by a jarring note on the guitar...only to be resolved in harmony, with an almost subliminal whisper of choir-like voices in the background. Sublime! For the connoisseurs I can also recommend the bootleg version of this track on Total Eclipse - exquisite, haunting, rapturous, mesmerising. And that's just the first few bars!
- Martin, Hobart, Australia
Story is that this song is based on a real episode that one of the band members experienced in a hotel during a tour one night. Not sure whether it was Syd or Roger who wielded the ax to the detriment many objects in the room, esp. the TV. the event is played out in the movie "The Wall," and is featured on that album as the song "One of my Turns."
- Lyle, Fredericksburg, VA
It was on Live at Pompeii also. PURE GENIUS !
- CISCO M.F., ANDOVER, NJ
this song scares me just like the songs from syd barrett-era floyd. of course i like syd's music more than water's but this song is really cool...and scary...
- ozzy, fresno, CA
Yet another song my roommate from the mental hospital used to obsess about. I think it would have been cool if my roommate's name would have been Eugene. LOL
- Joel, Columbia, SC
an axe is also the name some british artist gave to thier guitars (jimi hendrix did it alot)
- Ben, Menomonie, WI
this song is really mysterious and awesome....pink floyd forever
- Madalyn, Greensburg, PA
The version of this song that appeared on Relics is not shortened, there are many different versions of this song like the one on Zabriskie Point for example. On the Relics cd the times for every song are wrong, "Careful With That Axe, Eugene" is 5:40. When played live, like on Ummagumma, it was usually longer.
- Kevin, Southington, CT
The live version is great too
- Ashley Jade, Cleveland, GA
Delightfully creepy....
- Aylin, Montreal
This song was used in the finale sequence of the film: "Zabriske Point". The working title was: "Come in Number 51, your time is up".
- Storm, Chicago, IL
Shadow, i totally know where you're coming from. I was falling asleep in my room in the dark once, listening to this. I just thought it was another mellow Floyd tune, and for about 5 minutes it is. Then, all hell breaks loose, and my sleep is delayed for about 15 minutes. No matter how many times you say to yourself that it is just a song, its scares the crap out of you.
- Brian, Altoona, PA
This song is one of my many favourites by Pink Floyd. The build up in the song gives a really chilling and dark feeling. This Crescendo followed by Roger Waters blood-curdling scream gives you the feeling of a murder in the middle of the night. The first time I listened to this I listened to it full volume, in the dark, at home, alone which I highly encourage not to be done unless you enjoying getting freaked out of your mind. I didn't expect the scream and I nearly died. Following this scream theres a hard rock section, which is then followed by a decrescendo. My favourite version of this is the live version on ummagumma.
- Shadow, Vancouver, Canada
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