The Number One, and Only: Another Brick in the Wall

Some songs sneak into our lives and without knowing how they got there we know every word by heart; for me that song is, and was, Pink Floyd‘s “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2.” I almost don’t remember a time before hearing this song or even developing an opinion of it. Was it all of the classic rock radio stations I listened to with my parents? Or maybe the countless back to school commercials I suffered through and thought, “This song just gets me.” Either way Pink Floyd’s style stuck with me, and it is undoubtedly obvious I am not the only one.

When The Wall came out in 1979, Pink Floyd had already established themselves and their psychedelic rock, moody, and meaning sounds, but something about this album was different. Their writing took more of a stand and seemed much more personal and introspective in this album. The storytelling made a clear impact on audiences with the rock opera “Another Brick in the Wall,” a three part song written by Roger Waters where “Part 2” made it to number one on the billboards in the US. Shockingly, this song remained the only number one hit of Pink Floyd’s in America. The album is revered as one of the greatest on many lists including Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, but still is the only song that topped the charts in America.

As one can see in the video, the song makes a clear stance against the monotony and oppressive structure of the boarding school system in the UK at the time. The line “We don’t need no thought controlsums up the main idea of the song very clearly without dancing around the subject. The song means everything to those who are made to feel like nothing with the line: “All in all it’s just another brick in the wall”.

The video pairs perfectly with the song in the dark, nightmarish factory system “school” and we only feel relief when the students take control of the school, and chorus, and break free.

Watch the full three part rock opera to get the whole story…

The thought that no other songs from Pink Floyd’s stellar roster cracked a top spot in the American music scene seems astonishing to me. For such an iconic band, completely original songwriting, and epic instrumentals one would assume their songs would not only pollute the charts, but remain on them for months at a time. Could the competition in the late 60’s to the early 90’s have been so much more rigorous? Or have our listening habits changed so drastically? It is easy to know something is great late in the game when it has already been established as so. Maybe something becomes truly iconic and appreciated once it stands the test of time, which “Comfortably Numb,” Wish You Were Here,” “Hey You,” “Money” and countless others clearly have.

In hindsight, many Pink Floyd songs are truly spectacular and, in many ways, a notch above the rest. Having the chart records not reflect that fact does not slight their reputation in the least, but the fact is still hard settling.

Listen to the full album and remind yourself of the ones you know and love, or see what you’re missing!


Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons

1 Comment

  1. Lauren S

    April 19, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    I never realized how few Pink Floyd songs charted in America – crazy!

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