The Gunner's Dream

Album: The Final Cut (1983)
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  • As with all the songs on the album, Roger Waters wrote this. Some of the lyrics are based on an IRA terrorist attack that took place in London in July 1982. Two bombings occurred that day, one in Hyde Park, one in Regents Park. In Hyde Park, as the Household Cavalry marched past a parked sedan, a bomb hidden inside exploded. Four Cavalrymen and seven horses died, 22 guards and civilians were injured. Less than two hours later, on a bandstand in Regents park, the band of the Royal Green Jackets was giving a concert when a bomb underneath the stage exploded ("And maniacs don't blow holes in bandsmen by remote control"). Six bandsmen died, 24 other bandsmen and four civilians were injured. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington
  • The song tells the story of a gunner in a bomber (not on the ground) who has parachuted out of his plane and as he floats down to the ground, memories of his life come up to meet him but then he has dream. His dream is that the world will be at peace where there is no censorship so you can speak out loud about what you are thinking, there will be no military rations so everyone can eat, and men wont have to sleep in the trenches. Most importantly, the youth of the nation won't be sent of to die for their country ("No one kills the children anymore"). It also refers to people disappearing in the night. This would happen to Jews and any others the Germans did not want in WWII. It also refers to the IRA terrorist attacks, which shows that the Gunner's Dream has not been fulfilled.
  • The line, "in the corner of some foreign field the gunner sleeps tonight - We cannot write off his final scene - take heed to the dream" means the gunner died in the field but don't let him die in vain and make peace in the world. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Josh - Sarnia, Canada, for above 2
  • The song's title may have been meant as a play on the nickname of London's Arsenal Football Club. Roger Waters is a well-known follower of the Gunners, who are now competing in England's Premier League. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Joshua - Twin Cities, MN
  • Roger Waters came up with the character in this song based on his perception of war veterans, who he noticed were always very quiet about their experiences. "You're never the same," he said in a 2003 interview with Uncut. "Those of us who haven't been exposed to it can never properly understand it. You get desensitized to it by all the violence on TV. You never sense the actual trauma involved."
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Comments: 31

  • Adriaan from Wassenaar"In the corner of some foreign field" refers to a (rather famous) poem by Rupert Brooke "The Soldier".
  • Garry from CorbyThe line, "you never hear their standard issue, kicking in your door" must refer to the soldiers' boots, most likely in Northern Ireland where the RUC and British soldiers tended not to knock before entering. Great line.
  • Thetruth from London, England"MANIACS DON'T BLOW HOLES IN BANDSMEN BY REMOTE CONTROL" ... See this article, and lots more ... lots of sources and some predate The Gunner's Dream so were available as an explanation for Roger Waters on why John Lennon was dead ... Of course double entendres are always good too in songs ... "blow holes" sounds more like a shooting, how John Lennon was killed, but the album was written earlier as a proposed soundtrack for The Wall Movie, but then recorded in late 1982 right after the July 20 London bombings ... I'm betting double entendre ... For info on the Remote Control US Government / Catcher in the Rye you might start here: ...
  • Thetruth from London, England"MADMEN DON'T BLOW HOLES IN BANDSMEN BY REMOTE CONTROL" seems to refer to the Manchurian Candidate Mark David Chapman (ala Sirhan Sirhan who killed RFK, another obvious CIA brainwashed Manchurian Candidate who maybe didn't even shoot RFK) ... Anycase, the remote control is the US Government which spent the first 5 years John Lennon lived in NYC trying to deport him for a London marijuana conviction from about 1965. Lennon and Yoko were turning up everywhere singing "Give Peace a Chance", spending millions on "Visualize Peace" Billboards, Staying in Bed and Telling Everyone Else to Do so to Try to Stop the War, and lots more while Nixon's Vietnam was escalating. After Vietnam and Nixon's resignation, in about December 1975 Lennon finally won his 4 to 5 year battle against Deportation and was allowed to stay in NYC, and he did, and became even more political attending rallies (1 for a guy busted for marijuana and sentenced to 20 years, but after Lennon appeared at the rally the guy was let out in 2 days). The brainwashing / Manchurian Candidate Department of the CIA had remote control of Sirhan Sirhan and Mark David Chapman, who was the Madman who blew holes in bandsman John Lennon, who remains the ONLY Beatle to get involved politically. RIP John
  • Martin from Sofia, BulgariaSuch an amazing song, best song of all time in my list. The part where he sings "His dream is driving me insane." gives me chills every time. It's so filled with pain and hopelessness for the dream that is lost(the one that the gunner sings in the first part of the song). Such an emotional song.
  • Carla from Saskatoon, Skoh and one more thing.. the part that says "you can relax, on both sides of the tracks" thanks to those who fought for our freedom we don't have to live our lives in fear.
  • Carla from Saskatoon, SkThe song is on Remembrance day, about a soldiers aged wife and the soldier who lost his life in the war. "the silver in her hair shines in the cold November air" November is the month of Remembrance day, her hair is silver cause she is old. "you hear the tolling bell and touch the silk in your lapel" Poppies were once made of silk and they are worn on the lapel. "after the service as your walking slowly to the car" The service is the Remembrance day service. "you take her frail hand" again, she is old... her husband likely fought in WWII. and hold on to the dream... Lest we forget!
  • Matt from Winnipeg, Mbi have listend to this amazing song over 1000 times in counting,i have learnt the piano part and when my friend plays the alto sax around the two min mark , there is no other place in the world i want to be!!!!!!!!, it is true bliss. absolute wonderful song
  • David from Valencia, CaThis song was written by Roger Waters, inspired by the death of his father. Roger Waters was deeply impacted by the death of his father, and always felt that his father's death had been in vain. What he describes in the song is what the Gunner dreams of as he dies, what the Gunner believes he died for. As he thinks about his funeral, the better world he describes is the difference he hopes the world brings. As the song ends, the speaker changes. It is no longer the gunner speaking, but an arbitrary commentator, who states that this dream should not be forgotten.
    Roger Water feels that for all the men who have died for this better world, it should be here. We must remember, and strive for that world, other wise all the men who died for the wars that were claimed to end wars, or release oppresion, will have died in vain.
  • Terry from Wickford, RiTo answer Edgar, "Could anyone explain me what the ''You can relax on both sides of the track'' mean??
    This refers to the phrase "wrong side of the tracks" which means that a town can be divided into a Good(wealthier)section and a Bad(less affluent)section by what side of the local railroad tracks they live on. To say that someone comes from the "wrong side of the tracks" means that they live in a poor/bad section of town and therefore must be bad or low class. The Gunner's Dream espouses the hope that all of the fighting and dying in War would eliminate petty things like class divisions and class warfare and mean that everyone would have equal rights and happiness. That "promise" was part of the many things hoped for in the Post War Dream.
  • Edgar from Athens, GreeceCould anyone explain me what the 'You can relax on both sides of the track' mean??
  • Edgar from Athens, GreeceWhat a chilling song!!Pink Floyd are such geniuses and this album one of the best, but why some say it is one of the worst??!!This song is so depressing and imaginary, making pictures in mu mind...Poetry!!
  • Darcy from Harrogate,RW's father died in Anzio (Search for "When the Tigers Broke Free") - And the Anzio bridgehead / Was held for the price / Of a few hundred ordinary lives.

    The reference to the bandsmen/remote control is about this event:
  • Steve from Westcliff-on-sea, --This is my favourite song on what is possibly my favourite Pink Floyd album. Wonderful music and haunting lyrics - the fade of the word "dream" into the wailing sax can still give me chills.
    For me it perfectly encapsulates the futility of war - any war - by calling into question the principles people were told they were fighting for in the Second World War. The "bandsmen by remote control" lyric is so obviously about the IRA attacks in London (20 July 1982; the album was released in 1983).
    I always thought Waters solo albums were like little novels in how their lyrics and music are full of self-references and intertwining and this is no exception.
    I understand and sympathise with his world-view and that makes this, for me, a deeply satisfying album.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InThe opening lyrics will reach into your rib cage, grasp your heart, then yank it out, still beating, holding it in front of your eyes.
    One incredibly depressing song, but I like it nonetheless.
    Dave also delivers a nice little solo midway through the song.
  • Dogma from Alexandria, LaLove how Roger's scream blends into the sax solo on the line "And hold on to the dreammmmmmmmm..."
  • Michael from Oxford"This dream is driving me insaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannneeee!!!!!!!!!" That is scary!
  • Sam from San Jose, CaIt's a beautiful album. I'm a huge Pink Floyd fan. First thing I'd like to say is that it has nothing whatsoever to do with John Lennon's death. A gunner has been shot down and reflects on his death, foreseeing his own funeral ("After the service when you're walking..."). He goes on to think about what he has died for and what his wish for the world is. The album is about the futility of war, in a sense. None but the soldiers can understand what they risked their lives for and what many died for. In a short time, the patriotism dies and everyone forgets. This is very applicable today--after 9/11, how long did people have patriotic flags and stickers all over the place? Less than a year? Anyway... I would advise people to listen through the whole album and read the lyrics before they try to assign meaning to things, because many of the songs in this album are intertwined.

    Note: I am certain that the second 'fact' posted here is wrong--the Gunner is in his plane, about to crash and die. The person that posted that fact has also oversimplified the song into simple references to specific events or overly-simplified ideas. The first 'fact' is also guilty of oversimplifying.
  • Ale from Bergamo, ItalyThe Verse "in the corner..." is taken from a sonet of the WWII named "The soldier" of Rupert Brooke. Original verses were: "If I should die, think only this of me:/That there's some corner of a foreign field/That is forever England"
  • Chris from Hamilton, OhIf anyone has seen the sync with Band of Brothers with this song you would understand the song a lot better, the airplane in the begining is a C47 WWII aircraft that is shot and the paratroopers are jumping out of the airplane. Hince "Floating down, throught the clouds, memories come rushing up to meet me now" all there memories are running throught there head because the could potentially die. Go to Google Videos an type in Band of Brothers Gunners Dream or just Gunners Dream.
  • Tim from Los Angeles, CaOne of the most beautiful Floyd songs ever written. In 1982, Rog went on tour promoting The Pros and Cons of Hitchiking, and his guitarist was none other than Eric Clapton. I have a bootleg of one of the concerts where Clapton played, and "The Gunners Dream" was one of the songs performed. Clapton added a phenomenal guitar solo to the end of the song, capping it with a big, strong ending. I can still hear it now ....
  • Weller from Basingstoke, EnglandJust a technical remark. I think the veteran from "Hero's Return" is bomber (... part of me flies over Dresden...; ... dying words on the INTERCOM; Floating down...) which leads me to the conclusion that his dying mate must have been an aircraft gunner.
  • Jerry from Randolph, NjI'm pretty damn sure this song has nothing to do with john lennon. it's on a little bigger scale than some rockstar getting shot. it's about defeating fascism and dying on the battlefield and whether or not this dying man's life is worth it or not. damn good song
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScWhat he was saying is that Roger Waters was using the remote-control as a metaphor for the gun. I haven't heard the song or read the lyrics, but he wasn't saying that John Lennon was shot by a remote-control. In fact, he put gun in parentheses after remote-control.
  • Jon from Columbus, Ohyea, will... definitly know your music before you talk about it...

    echo of nick, about walter's reflection on the war on this entire album.
  • Emma from .., CanadaYeah, John Lennon definitely did not get shot by a remote controlled gun there buddy. I think you should research that before you post it on the internet. Just a word of advice for next time : ) haha
  • Mampoop from Montreal, United StatesSuper nice song and excellent lyrics. Cheers, Roger Waters.
  • William from Boston, MaThe gunner is he father, who was killed at the antezio bridge(sp). Hes not talking about the terroist bombings, i and still can see how people think that. The part about blowing holes in a bandsmen by remote control is talking about John Lenon getting shot by a remote control (gun)
    Roger had a great affection towards the beatles
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaThis song combines WWII imagery with events that were happening then, the IRA terrorist bombings and Falklands war. This song has some of Roger Water's best lyrics. It's about a soldier who has died in WWII (in the corner of some foreign field). A gunner has been mortally wounded and reflects during his last few seconds alive. He lists all the things he has died for - he dreamed of a world where people were provided compassion, shelter, food, where 'you could speak out loud about your doubts and fears', people didn't simply disappear without due process, everyone had recourse to the law. At the end of the song he acknowledges the human failure ('what's done is done') but tells us to 'take heed of the dream'.
  • Nickc from Ft. Wayne, InThe song, like most of the album, mixes together Waters' reflection on his father's death in the war with his criticism of present circumstances such as the Falklands war and the IRA bombings.
  • Deepphreeze from Irvine, CaThis song is referred to in "The Hero's Return".

    This song's about a gunner who is killed on the battlefield, and his friend 'The Hero' feels guilty for leaving him behind to die.

    "Goodbye Max.
    Goodbye Ma.
    After the service when you're walking slowly to the car
    And the silver in her hair shines in the cold November air
    You take her frail hand
    And hold on to the dream"

    Obviously, the gunner has been killed and 'sleeps' forever.
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