Roger Waters' 70th Birthday Tribute


Pink Floyd was one of the most massively successful bands in modern history. The band’s landmark progressive lyrics and unique psychedelic sound captivated audiences worldwide. On the occasion of Roger Waters' 70th birthday, Cindy Howes and Mike Sauter discuss the mastermind behind most of Pink Floyd’s most celebrated albums.


Rogers met his band mates while attending the Cambridgeshire High School for Boys, where Syd Barrett attended. By the early 60s, Waters and Barrett had lost interest in school and moved more towards creating music. Barrett’s time with Pink Floyd was destined to be short, however, as his deteriorating mental health prevented cooperation with the rest of the band. Waters took over as principle songwriter as of 1968, and in 1973 released The Dark Side of the Moon.


As Mike Sauter says, The Dark Side of the Moon is the first album that displays Pink Floyd’s grasp of the concept album. It’s more concise than earlier Floyd works, and contains “syncopated sound effects”, especially notable in the introduction to the song Money. “The album is really a Rorschach test for the listener”, Sauter says, as the lyrics are “not too specific and not too oblique”, and the ability to insert the lyrics into one’s own life is a major part of what makes them so memorable.


Roger Waters struck gold twice, first with Dark Side of the Moon, and finally with The Wall. Roger Waters’ influences for The Wall include Syd Barret’s mental illness from the band, LSD, and his late father’s death during World War Two. Mike Sauter discusses the feelings of loneliness, alienation, and anti-school sentiments that permeate the album, and larger themes including government and politics. All these concepts are what make the album incredibly relatable, especially for disaffected high school students.


Sauter admits that one of appeals of Roger Waters’ vocals is that he isn’t exactly an amazing singer.  “He always has a sense of striving, always pushing his voice, not quite hitting that high note, trying to hit that crescendo. The feeling like you’re not quite there, not quite going to measure up, but you’re going to do it anyway and you’re going to do your best,” is what makes it easy to empathize with Waters.

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