Pink Floyd is Gilmour’s musicality and Water’s expressionism; together, they are unbeatable. But one of them turned into a lunatic. Enough is enough.
Not the Greatest, but the best Band of the World
I am a lifelong Pink Floyd fan. Ummagumma was my first record, and surprisingly, it did not drive me away from the group. I love all of their phases. Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets concert in Antwerpen, with songs from the group's early days, still is my favorite live event. Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here are gigantic, and Animals is not far behind. Well, and then there was The Wall. This was when Richard Wright and David Gilmour took themselves back, and Waters dominated the show. The Final Cut was even labeled as Waters’ requiem, already a one-man show, showcasing what was missing if the “musicians” in the band, guitarist Gilmour and keyboarder Wright, had given up on future collaboration with Waters and were mentally (Gilmour) or physically (Wright) out. Not for long, though.
What a turnaround. Finally, Waters was suddenly out, and Wright was back in. However, the following albums showed what was missing without Waters, who considered himself unreplaceable. Partly, he was right. Still, the late Pink Floyd albums are solid.
“The lunatic is on the grass” (Pink Floyd):
Pink Floyd continued, much to the surprise of Roger. With his confrontative and erratic behavior, it was definitely Waters who split the band, and his attempts to rejoin were not really honest. The short-lived reunion at Live Aid for Africa was nice, but someone reported that the old rifts were still there. After some small signs of reconciliation, relations went downhill again. Recently, Gilmour´s wife, Polly Samson, made a clear-cut statement:
Sadly [Waters] you are antisemitic to your rotten core. Also a Putin apologist and a lying, thieving, hypocritical, tax-avoiding, lip-synching, misogynistic, sick-with-envy, megalomaniac. Enough of your nonsense (Polly Samson)
Hot stuff, but probably she is right. And Gilmour agreed. Waters just turned 80, and Pink Floyd fans have to face it: There is no way back, that is it! No new music, no reunion, not even as guest musicians popping up at concerts and surprising the fan audience of the other.
“Big man, pig man, ha-ha charade you are” (Pink Floyd)
But back to Roger Waters. Maybe he always was a rather unpleasant fellow, but now he went berserk. There are two central accusations: Antisemitism and being close to Putin. Let’s see. It starts with comparisons. He compares Israel to Nazi Germany, a no-go! He states that Putin governs Russia based on a societal consensus (well, ask former Chess world champion Garri Kasparov about that, or all the people dying in Putin´s prisons or suffering on London’s park benches poisoned by Putin’s agents). And then he wonders whether Putin is more of a gangster than Joe Biden and US presidents before the current one. Waters is relativizing by comparison, out of context and asymmetrically, a typical rhetoric figure of populists and anti-democrats. Then he calls Biden a war criminal for siding with Ukraine. What the … is he messing up here? Russia rapes a country, and the one who comes to help is the bad guy? Come on, this is really weak!
Who actually did invite Waters to speak to the UN Security Council? Russia! Another brick in the Wall of Russian propaganda, as Ukraine called it. The hypocrisy of Floyd’s former bassist peaks if you compare his words to Pink Floyd’s criticism of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. OK, he criticized the Russian invasion of Ukraine, too, but he emphasized that it is partly the fault of Ukraine. He follows a line of argumentation that was popularized by the academic John Mearsheimer, building upon the notion that Russia felt threatened by the West and Ukraine (NATO Eastern Enlargement). Mearsheimer is entirely wrong, or can you imagine that NATO conquers Russia? The threat went the other way around: East and Central Europeans want to hide under the umbrella of NATO because they ARE threatened by Russia, as we just have seen. Ask people in Moldova or the Baltic States about this. Or just read the literature, but all of it. You do need more education, dear Roger Waters!
“Brezhnev took Afghanistan, Begin took Beirut” (Pink Floyd)
Waters and the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) is another story. Waters supports the BDS. This Palestinian organization calls for boycotting Israeli products and artists (at the same time, the former Pink Floyd bassist wonders why German activists and local politicians tried to cancel his concerts in Germany and why he was declared persona non grata in Krakow, Poland). Waters calls Israel an Apartheid state, which shows that he has no idea. Apartheid is a domestic issue, and there may be few asymmetrical rights for Israelis and Palestinians in Israel, sometimes even to the benefit of Palestinians (no conscription, no need to serve in the army, but the right to sign up if they want), but there is no Apartheid within Israel. Arab parties are often coalition partners in the Israeli government. And isn´t it ironic that the co-founder of BDS established the movement from within Israel, unharmed? Speaking of Apartheid, how long was Nelson Mandela imprisoned?
Sure, the self-governing Palestinian Autonomy Areas (Westbank) is a completely different issue and obviously very complicated, no doubt about it. But even if you criticize Israeli settlement policies, do you have to go with BDS? The BDS has ties with Hamas, a terrorist organization oppressing their population in Gaza and firing rockets at Tel Aviv. And there are many more connections that are pretty filthy. In the end, you have to weigh whom you support, a movement denying the right of Israel to exist in Palestine (anti-Zionist) or the only democracy in the Middle East, whether you like the present Israeli government or not. The UK is the country that issued the Balfour Declaration, but also the country where the far Left (where Waters belongs politically) has a problem with antisemitism.
“When a blind man cries” (Deep Purple)
Can he be that uninformed – or blind – or ignorant? Well, sure, he is not a scientist who is into bifurcation and double-checks. Still, if you are a public figure and have influence, you must try to be objective and gather enough information to make a knowledgeable statement. I have doubts that Waters has any idea what he is talking about. Maybe he should follow Gerard Depardieu and the former Austrian foreign minister to live in Russia. A big plate of disillusion would help with digestion.
“The Final Cut” (Pink Floyd)
It is one of my finest memories when I played Another Brick in the Wall (part II) with my nine and 11-years-old sons on stage, the older one reproducing Gilmour’s outro solo note by note, including the finger-breaking 2½-note bendings that even solid guitarists sometimes circumvent. Me on the bass, dropped-D-tuning, Waters' bassline - unforgettable, this really rocks. Pink Floyd's music will always be with me, but I can do without Waters. He turned 80, and it is maybe time to retire.
About the Creator
J Dieringer is a professor of international relations by profession and a musician, writer, and chess player by passion. He strives to merge those inputs and tackle the intersection of arts and science.