When The Tigers Broke Free

Album: Echoes - The Best Of Pink Floyd (1982)
Charted: 39
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Roger Waters wrote this about his father, who died in World War II at Anzio, Italy in 1944. Roger was just five months old when his father was killed. The feeling of loss became a theme in Roger's songs, many of which dealt with military themes and the repercussions of war.
  • Released as a single in 1982, this song did not appear on an album until it was used on Pink Floyd's 2001 greatest hits compilation, Echoes. It also appeared on the reissued version of The Final Cut in 2003.
  • This was used in Pink Floyd's 1982 movie The Wall. It appeared in the "Enemy Bridge Was Held" and "High Command" sections, when Pink sees his dad loading a gun and dusting his army uniform. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    patrick - Chicago, IL
  • Original Pink Floyd member Syd Barrett also lost his father, who died when he was 14. It may have contributed to the mental illness that forced him out of the band.
  • In this song, Roger Waters sings about finding a letter that "His Majesty signed with his own rubber stamp." Waters says that he was trying on his father's uniform when he found a condolence letter from George VI, which was indeed signed with a rubber stamp. He found the replica signature particularly disturbing, since his dad gave up his life for the country. He would have preferred an actual signature, even if it was simply on behalf of the King.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 38

  • Thomas from Bellingham Wa.If his father was in company "Z" wouldn't the line have been company "zed" or is that just a Canadian thing?
  • Tom from Stamford, United KingdomEric Fletcher Waters did indeed fight for the Anzio bridgehead, however he served in company Z (Zee) and not in company C.
    The song was originally written for The Wall but the other band members veto'd it because it has a too personal connotation to Roger.
  • Joe from Silvis, Ili have watched the wall so many times and there are still parts that dont make any sense to me
  • Terry from Wickford, RiThe song was written post Wall, for the movie and was meant to be included on The Final Cut. Final Cut's original premise was something called "Spare Bricks" - songs left off of The Wall album (due to time constraints - remember kids, albums had very specific time limits you had to adhere to, unlike the longer uninterrupted time allowable on CD - and co-producers Ezrin and Gilmour vetoing some of the 'lesser' material) and re-recordings for the film. The film included "What Shall We Do Now?", which was dropped from The Wall at the last minute, and had different versions of "Mother" and some other tweaks. Roger wanted to bundle all of this together into Spare Bricks, so when the single went to press, the album's name was already changed to The Final Cut(meaning a film cut, but with obvious puns about suicide and the insulting behavior of England towards veterans and the "post-war Dream")
    As the Falkland Islands conflict broke out and England was once again at war, but this time in a stupid, meaningless way, Waters saw it as a slap in the face of those who fought and died in WWII - a 'cut' or insult. So, he wrote new material, bumping 'Tigers' and some of the other already-heard Wall material from the tracklisting. Songs that had been dropped from The Wall, but never heard yet, were included, prompting Gilmour to state, "if they weren't good enough then, why are they good enough now?" So 'Tigers' was definitely a Waters track. Gilmour claims to have liked it, but not as a Pink Floyd song, since it's so completely Roger. Aside from the deeply personal content (which was why Gilmour disliked "Mother") none of the other band members are on the track. He thought it should go on a Roger Waters greatest hits album. However, since it was released under the Floyd name, it was included on the Echoes compilation (most likely to say there was something 'new' on it) and then retro-fitted on to the 2004 remastering of The Final Cut, since Roger had always intended it to be on there anyway, but was restricted by album length - there's that theme again...always keep that in mind for any album created pre-1984 or so. It was a very real restriction for all recording artists like Floyd.
  • Steve from Westcliff-on-sea, --I also have the single from 1982. I hadn't made the connection between the tigers breaking free and tiger tanks at the Anzio Bridgehead. I always thought it was a wonderful visual metaphor for the flames and smoke of the explosions of the bombs/shells that killed the allied troops, including Waters' father.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InThis is the only song from Floyd that apparently has no input from anyone but Roger and his vocals, except possibly Nick's drums.
  • Sibella from Pretoria, --Sorry about posting 3 comments in a row, but I just found out: When The Tigers Broke Free is on the 2004 re-release and not the original one.
  • Sibella from Pretoria, --Maybe there's a newer release of The Final Cut, cos I promise I have this song on it and some people say it's not.This music makes me sink into a deep state of long lasting melancholy.
  • Sibella from Pretoria, --Tom, I love your descriptive words. Emotion seeps from the whole The Final Cut.
  • Tom from Berlin, WiThis is a very powerful song when you really really think about it. Emotion just seeps from the speakers when you play it.
  • Simon from Pittsbugh, Padoes anyone know why this song was not on The Wall album? Its one of my favourite scenes in the movie.
  • Kevin from Warren, MiApparently The Final Cut was supposed to be music taken from the movie. I have a single from 1982 that has When the Tigers Broke Free/Bring the Boys Back Home (Harvest HAR5222). On the back of the gatefold cover it says "Taken from the album The Final Cut".
  • Achory from Warner Robins, Ga"I believe that King George in this song is supposed to be Roger Waters
    - Ashley Jade, Cleveland, GA" King George is not roger waters. that part is roger waters criticising king george for the careless way he let people know that their family members had died. hence "and my eyes still grow damp to recall his majesty'd signed with his own rubber stamp" with an almost spitting emphasis on "stamp"
  • Bess from San Diego, CaJeez, Brooks. His dad died in WWII. He has a right to sing about how terrible wars and the government can be. I agree with Matthew as well. If anyone lost any relative in a war, they would be hurt somehow. This is a great song. Too bad my sister, the die-hard Pink Floyd fan of the family, didn't find it and play it for me sooner.
  • George from Boston, Maok this song is about the battle in which rogers father was killed. and what happended after. nothing more you jerk offs
  • Blaine from Seattle, Wahey , Dan, Fort Collins, CO , thanks for clearing that up.... i couldent figure out what the tigers were
  • Joel from Stockholm, SwedenThe Anzio Bridghead is just what it is - a bridgehead in Anzio, Italy during WWII. And King George is King George and not Roger Waters. The King always sent letters to the wives of the British soldiers who had been killed in the war. There doesn't have to be deeper meanings to every line of the song.
  • Sam from Taunton, MaJoey you are definitely wrong. Roger sings the last verse as well, just an octave higher than in the previous verses. I love the lyrics to this song and the music gives the feeling of war music in a way. All of The Final Cut is Roger Waters solo basically because Gilmour only sings on Not Now John and theres only about four guitar solos, so I don't see how you can disagree Joey.
  • Jeff from Sothington, CtRobert is wrong actually..when the Final Cut was Re-realesed in 2004 that track was added. The original Final Cut did not feature this song on it, 2001 is obvoisly before 2004 so yes it did not appear until Echoes
  • Joey from Hw, United Stateskurt, i disagree because gilmour sings the last verse of this song. And i think this is a very moving and touching song, and in the movie the wall, we say a soldier on a machine gun getting killed by a stuka dive bomber.
  • Chris from Cape Town, SwedenThe first time I heard this song, in the beginning of The Wall (the movie), I knew I was in for a life-changing experience. Different sections of the song are repeated throughout the movie, and each time I sat up again. The scenes set to this song are stunning, and the song really makes The Wall as a movie, which is probably why it could never fit into any other album.
  • Lizz from Tampa, FlAshley, i doubt King George is supposed to mean roger waters. King George VI was the king from 1936-1952(which covereds the time waters' father died) :) I like the song btw, very good!
  • Ashley Jade from Cleveland, GaI believe that King George in this song is supposed to be Roger Waters
  • Collin from Texas, TxCrud, Dan beat me to the one about the Tigers. They were some of the better tanks in the war. Anyway, I heard this song first on the movie THE WALL. That entire movie was kind of depressing. I like the line "that's how High Command took my daddy from me." Great writing.
  • Ben from Fort Collins, CoThe song goodbye blue sky is awesome, this is Ben Olson From Fort Collins, CO. Dan from Fort Collins, whats your last name?
  • Jim from Oxnard, CaRobert and Wilfred, you are both right. Although "When The Tigers Broke Free" was shown in the movie "The Wall," it was written just before the tumultous "The Final Cut" sessions where Rick Wright had been excluded from the group entirely. That is why when "The Final Cut" was re-released it was inserted just before "Hero's Return." As for Kurt's remark, "The Final Cut" was basically a Waters solo album. Heck, Nick Mason didn't play drums in a few of the songs, and Waters and Gilmour were at each other's throats. "The Final Cut" was Floyd's last album (as we knew them) and the two post-Waters albums weren't as great as the 1967-1983 period.
  • Matthew from Downers Grove, IlBrooks, I know that Waters complains, but I like this song and i think it's pretty deep. Whining is a harsh word, I'd say mourning for the death of his father, Dedicating him a great song.
  • Chucri from Damascus, United StatesThe best line in this song is

    "And my eyes still grow damp to remember
    His Majesty signed
    With his own rubber stamp."

    when he found the note the king sent to his mother to probably thank her for the sacrifice her husband made as most politicians and presidents do. The part about the "rubber stamp" was a scathing comment about how little the king and England valued his father and was probably was responsible for making Roger the anti-war cynic he has become later in life...
  • Rob from Pittsfield, MaGood song. Dan fron Fort Collins,Co...you are 100% right! nothing more can be said.
  • Jonathan from Prestatyn, WalesRoger Waters' father was the Anzio Bridgehead mentioned in the song. This is a truley moving song.
  • Wilfred from Melbourne, Australia"Ross, Appleton, WI": I would like to disagree. It is indeed on my copy (CD) of "The Final Cut". However, mine as a remastered edition of the 1983 album, so both you and "Robert, Staten Island, NY" could be correct. Hope that settles the argument.
  • Robert from Staten Island, NyAch, you're right, the CD I have is a new version that added When The Tigers Broke Free and moved Hero's Return up to track 5. It's not the original version. My mistake.
  • Ross from Appleton, WiUh, Robert... It's not on The Final Cut. The fourth track is The Hero's Return.
  • Robert from Staten Island, Ny"Released as a single in 1982, it did not appear on an album until it was used on their 2001 Greatest Hits compilation."

    What about The Final Cut? The Final Cut is a Pink Floyd album from 1983, and When The Tigers Broke Free is the 4th track in the album.
  • Kurt from Downers Grove, IlThis is basically a Roger Waters solo track, not like Pink Floyd at all. I love how personal it is; this is a great example of what a brilliant lyricist Waters is.
  • Brooks from Vero Beach, FlDon't get me wrong, I love Pink Floyd, but when Roger Water's got to the point where his whole career was whining, it disappointed me.
  • Dan from Fort Collins, CoThis song is about Roger Waters's vision of what the Battle of Anzio must have been like - from the perspective of his father, who was a member of the British "Royal Fusiliers Company C". Anzio was a beachhead in Italy stormed by the British. There was a bridge held by the British but being fought over by the British and Germans. The "Tigers" are the German tanks that finally break the stalemate and wipe out the Company.
  • Lee from Durham, Nchis father died in the fight for anzio bridge
see more comments

Director Paul Rachman on "Hunger Strike," "Man in the Box," KissSong Writing

After cutting his teeth on hardcore punk videos, Paul defined the grunge look with his work on "Hunger Strike" and "Man in the Box."

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary MachineSong Writing

Fiona's highly-anticipated third album almost didn't make it. Here's how it finally came together after two years and a leak.

Intentionally AtrociousSong Writing

A selection of songs made to be terrible - some clearly achieved that goal.

Kerry Livgren of KansasSongwriter Interviews

In this talk from the '80s, the Kansas frontman talks turning to God and writing "Dust In The Wind."

Allen Toussaint - "Southern Nights"They're Playing My Song

A song he wrote and recorded from "sheer spiritual inspiration," Allen's didn't think "Southern Nights" had hit potential until Glen Campbell took it to #1 two years later.

Tony Banks of GenesisSongwriter Interviews

Genesis' key-man re-examines his solo career and the early days of music video.