Roger Waters – Amused To Death (Live)

Update: For copyright reasons, this is no longer available on YouTube.  I don’t know what the original source was, so cannot point to that.

I encourage you, if you are interested, to find other ways of hearing this song, especially if it involves paying the artist who created it.  Thanks.

I’ve posted about the album before but there’s a good concert video of the title track available.  It has the obligatory Pink Floyd-ish trio of swaying female background singers, and well played guitar riffs, but although the music itself is well done, it is somewhat besides the point.  Since it covers most of what is relevant, I repeat what I said before here about this song:

“The Wikipedia article on this work states that there is an ‘uplifting’ ending, where the vet who had to abandon Bill Hubbard recounts seeing his name on a memorial and feeling a sense of relief.  I think this is completely wrong.  The vet is recounting the fact that he lived 60+ years of his life with a sense of powerful regret and sadness.  I guess it is better than dying with the regret, but it seems clear to me that the point of the narrative within the song is to highlight the regret, not the sense of relief so many years later.  Regardless of what one might think about the necessity (or lack thereof) of war, maybe it is my personality type, but that overall sense of regret “if there was something  else I could have done…and that always sort of worried me” is searing (“when I was 87…1984, 1984”).”

From Roger Waters’ perspective, this is clearly an “anti-war song” (whatever that means), but I think in general, as odd as this might sound, this is simply the best musical expression of what a movie like Saving Private Ryan expresses, a direct expression of the cost of war, as well as the cost of regret.

Since it is hard to hear in the video, here’s the text of what is spoken at the end of the video:

[Alf Razzell:]
"Years later, I saw Bill Hubbard's name on the memorial to the missing
at Aras. And I...when I saw his name I was absolutely transfixed; it
was as though he was now a human being instead of some sort of
nightmarish memory of how I had to leave him, all those years ago.
And I felt relieved, and ever since then I've felt happier about it,
because always before, whenever I thought of him, I said to myself,
'Was there something else that I could have done?'
[Background: "I'd rather die, I'd rather die..."]
And that always sort of worried me. And having seen him, and his
name in the register - as you know in the memorials there's a little safe,
there's a register in there with every name - and seeing his name and
his name on the memorial; it sort of lightened my...heart, if you like."
(Woman) "When was it that you saw his name on the memorial?"
"Ah, when I was eighty-seven, that would be a year, ninete...eighty-
four, nineteen eighty-four."

A brilliant song.

posted on Friday, June 03, 2011 8:02 PM Print
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