Pigs Have Flown
Joined: Jun 2002
Quote:Posted on Thu, Sep. 21, 2006
Michael Smerconish | ROGER WATERS: THE PINKO IN FLOYD
FOR THE second time in my life, I'm writing a column about Pink Floyd. Specifically, about the man I've always considered to be the brains of the band: Roger Waters. The first time I wrote about him was 26 years ago when I was a high school senior at Central Bucks West in Doylestown and editor of the school paper, the Chatterbux.
Back then, I was one of the lucky few to see Pink Floyd perform "The Wall," live at the Nassau County Coliseum on Long Island, N.Y. My review earned me an invitation to the principal's office. I was encouraged to write a retraction on the grounds that I'd promoted a band whose lyrics the principal associated with drug use.
It was a moment straight out of "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2," "We don't need no education" indeed. I told the principal to pound sand. Maybe even called it a matter of "free speech."
For three decades, the Floyd has never left my playlist.
In fact, I have done what I call "the cycle" for every Floyd and Roger Waters recording, meaning I bought it in all forms in which it was released: album, 8-track, cassette and CD. I once made a London taxi driver take me to the Battersea Power Station just so I could photograph the image that appears on the cover of my favorite album, "Animals." No one was more pleased when the band reunited to headline at Live 8. And in the never-ending debate among Floyd fans on David Gilmore vs. Rogers Waters, I've always sided with Waters.
My affinity for Waters has always been in spite of his politics. Chalk that up to spending too much time studying song lyrics back in the day when they printed such things. I thought rock stars had all the answers.
Fast-forward 25 years.
Last Wednesday, I sat in the front row for a Roger Waters performance at Madison Square Garden. (The same show came to the Tweeter Center in Camden Saturday night.) The crowd was diverse, but mostly like me: white middle-aged guys with receding hair and expanding waists.
It should have been a night to have a few beers and enjoy the soundtrack of my life. Instead, I sat there in my expensive seat, and heckled the guy whose music I know by heart.
Waters' politics are no longer just liberal, they're over the top.
I was expecting the line about "incurable tyrants and kings" when he sang "Fletcher Memorial Home," and I knew there'd be references to Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
What I wasn't prepared for was a photo montage featuring Osama, Saddam and George W. Bush. Especially not two days removed from the anniversary of Sept. 11 in the city where the most death and destruction occurred.
I'm sick and tired of entertainment types arguing a moral equivalency between our president and the Butcher of Baghdad and the architect of 9/11.
It's not that I object to the criticism of the president or his policy. But Waters and others lose all credibility when they treat Bush and bin Laden the same way. And that was before Waters announced he was beginning the "controversial" part of the show.
I held my breath as he introduced "Leaving Beirut" with a long-winded story about his teens. Then came:
Are these the people we should bomb
Are we so sure they mean us harm
Is this our pleasure, punishment or crime
Is this a mountain that we really want to climb
The road is hard, hard and long
Put down that two by four
This man would never turn you from his door
Oh, George! Oh, George!
That Texas education must have f------ you up when you were very small.
This is Waters' ridiculous ode to some guy who gave him a lift and a meal when he was hitching in Beirut at 17. According to the logic of his lyrics, because he received this courtesy, we're supposed to overlook the murder of innocents at the hands of radical Islam, including the close to 3,000 who died almost five years to the day, and just blocks from where I was hearing him sing.
I couldn't take it any more. "Go visit Ground Zero!" I shouted from the front row. He heard me, and proceeded to avoid our corner of the stage except to oblige a hottie who wanted to take his picture with her cell phone.
Then the pig came out.
I refer to a giant inflatable pig, a hallmark of many Floyd shows, and the symbol of my aforementioned favorite album. Only this time, the pig was a billboard for Waters' twisted priorities. "Habeas Corpus Matters," it said, among other things. How appalling. I wondered how many in the New York audience had lost relatives or friends in the 9/11 attack and now were witness to his call for more rights for the murderers?
"Go visit Ground Zero," I yelled again.
Roger Waters still has free-speech rights. Bald, bespectacled and willing to shell out for a front-row seat, so do I.
Michael Smerconish can be heard weekdays 5:30-9 a.m. on 1210/AM. Contact him via http://www.mastalk.com.
If you've studied your Floyd properly, you'd know that pigs could fly. -- Les Claypool
~ Pigs HAVE Flown ~