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The Final Cut

“What are those medals on the cover of The Final Cut?”

For finally tracking down the solution to this vexing problem, we are forever in the debt of Scott Plumer.

They’re all WWII service medals:

The one on the bottom right, yellow-green background with black and red stripes, is a Defence Medal, for 3 years service.

The middle one with a gold background and black, red and blue stripes is an Africa Star, for service in the North African campaign.
The leftmost one, blue with a red stripe, is a 1939/45 Star, for at least 6 months service between 1939 and 1945.
The one with purple and white diagonal stripes is the Distinguished Flying Cross, “for acts of courage, valour or devotion to duty while flying.” For officers.
“There are errors in the lyrics sheet of TFC”

There are actually two cases of this — one which seems unintentional, and the other purposeful. The unintentional printed-but-not-sung lyric occurs on “Your Possible Pasts,” where there is the following stanza:

By the cold and religious we were taken in hand
Shown how to feel good and told to feel bad.
> Tongue tied and terrified we learned how to pray
> Now our feelings run deep and cold as the clay.
And strung out behind us the banners and flags
Of our possible pasts lie in tatters and rags.

The two lines with “>” on them were included in the printed lyrics but not sung on the album. There’s also a line near the beginning of the song, “The Final Cut”:
If you negotiate the minefield in the drive
And beat the dogs and cheat the cold electronic eyes
And if you make it past the shotgun in the hall
Dial the combination
Open the priesthole
> And if I’m in I’ll tell you what’s behind the wall

What often gets mentioned is that an explosion, as from a gunshot, covers up everything after “…I’ll tell you…” in the last line. Which makes sense; you (the listener) never “make it past the shotgun in the hall.” But if the full line hadn’t been included in the written lyrics, you would never know what you’re missing…
“What is the relevance of the poppies?”

[With help from Steve South:] During the First World War, the fields of Flanders were dug over. Not by farmers, but by trench digging, shell and mortar fire, etc. Now it is a curious thing, but the seeds of the red poppies found in Europe can lay in the ground for years without germinating, and then grow after the ground has been disturbed. Consequently, sometime after the battles, the sites of devastation were transformed into a blaze of color.

The poppy has become a symbol of that time. Every November, when Americans celebrate Veterans Day, the British have Remembrance Day. Poppy wreaths are laid at the memorial to the Unknown Soldier, etc. A national charity collects money for veterans by selling artificial poppies — wearing a poppy shows that you remember and that you gave. The same thing happens in the US, for Memorial Day.

It does also have something to do with morphine. Poppies are also a symbol of relief from life’s pain, and have been since long before WWI.

[…and more, from Helen Bransfield:]

IN FLANDERS FIELDS by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
WE SHALL NOT SLEEP, THOUGH POPPIES GROW IN FLANDERS FIELDS.

“What are ‘Holophonics?'”

Pink Floyd’s _The Final Cut_ made use of a special encoding process that allows the simulation of “three- dimensional” sound, called “holophonics.” This was also adopted by Roger Waters for his _Pro’s and Cons_ album; while on _Amused to Death_, he used a somewhat similar mixing process called QSound, also used on _Pulse_. Both systems are explained below…

[From a posting by David Schuetz:]

I noticed [*the “huge improvement” in sound quality*]. It really does give a certain amount of imaging, around you rather than just between the speakers. When Waters did his Pros & Cons show on the radio in 1985 [that was the 28mar85 radio city music hall concert (gdh)], he did an introduction where he walked to a timpani, struck it with his fingernail, and then said “If I ask you to point where that timpani came from, [here I pointed over my right shoulder] and if you don’t point over your right shoulder, then we’re in trouble.” It was impressive.

As for just what it *is*, they were *very* secretive. They had “Ringo the holophonic microphone.” The process was based on holography, but of an audio form (you can do holography with *any* wave-based phenomena). The theory was that there were high frequencies generated by the ear (and some people have been shown to “generate” some frequencies from time to time), and that sounds interfere with these frequencies, and the interference pattern is what we interpret. So, what holophonics is is a conversion of sounds directly to that interference pattern.

Now, the fact that this sounds like a crock is immaterial, because it does work. So, just what is it? Most (including myself) believe it’s just a form of binaural recording. That “Ringo” is probably just a dummy head with microphones where the ears are. And when you listen with headphones, your ears are right where those microphones were, and you hear it as if you were actually there. Binaural is *fantastic* fun, and I wish more people would work with it. It’s a shame, though, that Floyd/Waters got duped into believing that Zuccareli’s process was anything special….

“What was *The Hero’s return part II*?”

The single for “Not Now John” (obscured) came with the album version of “The Hero’s Return” and what was basically an additional verse to the song, called “The Hero’s Return part II.” The lyrics go something like:

Jesus Christ, I might as well be dead
If I can’t see how dangerous it must feel to be
Training human cogs for the machine
Without some shell-shocked lunatic like me
Bombarding their still soft shores
With sticks and stones that were lying around
In the pile of unspeakable feelings I’d found
When I turned back the stone
Turned over the stone
Of my own disappointment back home

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