Pink Floyd, the Wall : Mother
Had Sigmund Freud lived 40 more years (to the overripe old age of 123), he would have been delighted to hear such a wonderful example of his life's psychoanlytic work embodied in the haunting lyrics of "Mother." Or had Oedipus lived a few millennium longer than his fictional death he would have found an adversary in the youthful Pink, a young boy whose desire for maternal acceptance and love is arguably equal to the greatest mother-centered protagonists in the history of literature. Contrary to the eye-gouging antics of Oedipus or even the grandiose melodrama later in Floyd's album, "Mother" is relatively low-key and emotionally subtle. The music itself is interestingly split, though with few if any seams to show for it, between the gloomy and simple verse chords and the effervescent, nursery rhyme-like chorus. Coupled with these seemingly disjointed yet oddly congruent styles are the blistering guitar solo and unsettling lyrics, all of which culminate in a perfect example of Floydian schizophrenia. The simple chord progression and uncomplicated lyrical delivery reflect Pink's childhood innocence at the time the song takes place. The very inquisitiveness emulates those youthful stages when the world is one big mystery. Why is the sky blue? Why does the ocean have waves? Where do babies come from? While the steady stream of inquiries seems to imply that Pink is rather young, with most children going through the "question" phase of development around 3 or 4 years of age, the level of seriousness shrouded behind the questions characterize Pink as being fairly older. The implications of governmental conspiracy and public ridicule indicate Pink's age as being around 12 to 14, that age when one learns that many of the world's most time-honored institutions are nothing more than hollow shells of public hope and dictatorial vanity. Santa Claus isn't real and there are many major religions that worship other deities than Christ. It's an age of discovery and self-recreation, when one must adapt and reinvent himself or herself in light of new knowledge. By this reading, the song's question (Pink) and answer (Mother) technique fits perfectly with this stage of budding self and global awareness. From the great Greek philosophers who used questions and answers to illustrate and promote self-realization and their own philosophical ideas, the dialogue form is often the favored method for encouraging mental and philosophical progression. So why would the band choose to illustrate such a serious stage of personal development with the nursery rhyme-like style of the song's chorus? Before we get to that, the song's emotional and psychological message must first be examined. Similar to the music, the lyrics are as subtle as they are unsettling. Although the song takes a seemingly forthright form of question and answer, the psychological implications behind the lyrics are far from being simple and straightforward. Although the battling was over, the effects of World War II were still extent in the years following the atrocious fight. The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the atomic bomb as well as the deaths of millions of Holocaust victims and soldiers were all too fresh in the global consciousness. Fears of nuclear warfare and continued fighting ran rampant through the post-war world, instilling a sense of uncertainty in the generations of and following the war. Such fears are blatantly reflected by the first line of the song in which Pink asks his mother if "they'll drop the bomb," referring to the apprehension of enemy retaliation. However, this line, as well as the majority of the lyrics, is open to a wide range of interpretation. Because of the psychological tendency to group people into two main categories (those like "us" and those apart from "us," or the Other) coupled with the recent divisions of global powers in the war, one automatically assumes that the "they" Pink refers to is the...
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