Song Lyric Sunday – Education – Another Brick In The Wall

For today’s Song Lyric Sunday our friend Paula, from Light Motifs II, has given us the prompts School, College, Education, Class and Degree. Thinking about education I remembered the Pink Floyd classic, Another Brick In The Wall. It has an interesting backstory as well as a fantastic video. Hang in there when you play it, the vocals start at around 1:50 minutes. The video is fascinating to watch so you won’t feel like you’re waiting.

The Song

One of Rolling Stone‘s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” this 1979 rock song protests overly restrictive schooling and boarding schools. According to the song, thought control and dark sarcasm are among the tactics that teachers use to control students, and students are better off without them

Roger Waters wrote this song about his views on formal education, which were framed during his time at the Cambridgeshire School for Boys. He hated his grammar school teachers and felt they were more interested in keeping the kids quiet than teaching them. The wall refers to the emotional barrier Waters built around himself because he wasn’t in touch with reality. The bricks in the wall were the events in his life which propelled him to build this proverbial wall around him, and his school teacher was another brick in the wall.

Waters told Mojo, December 2009, that the song is meant to be satirical. He explained: “You couldn’t find anybody in the world more pro-education than me. But the education I went through in boys’ grammar school in the ’50s was very controlling and demanded rebellion. The teachers were weak and therefore easy targets. The song is meant to be a rebellion against errant government, against people who have power over you, who are wrong. Then it absolutely demanded that you rebel against that.”
The children’s chorus that sang on this track came from a school in Islington, England, and was chosen because it was close to the studio. It was made up of 23 kids between the ages of 13 and 15. They were overdubbed 12 times, making it sound like there were many more kids.

The addition of the choir convinced Waters that the song would come together. He told Rolling Stone: “It suddenly made it sort of great.”

Pink Floyd’s producer, Bob Ezrin, had the idea for the chorus. He used a choir of kids when he produced Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” in 1972. Ezrin liked to use children’s voices on songs about school.

There was some controversy when it was revealed that the chorus was not paid. It also didn’t sit well with teachers that kids were singing an anti-school song. The chorus was given recording time in the studio in exchange for their contribution; the school received £1000 and a Platinum record

.The disco beat was suggested by their producer, Bob Ezrin, who was a fan of the group Chic. This was completely unexpected from Pink Floyd, who specialized in making records you were supposed to listen to, not dance to. He got the idea for the beat when he was in New York and heard something Nile Rodgers was doing.

Pink Floyd rarely released singles that were also on an album because they felt their songs were best appreciated in the context of an album, where the songs and the artwork came together to form a theme. Producer Bob Ezrin convinced them that this could stand on its own and would not hurt album sales. When the band relented and released it as a single, it became their only #1 hit.

Two more songs from the album were subsequently released as singles in America and various other countries, but not in the UK: “Run Like Hell” and “Comfortably Numb.” They had little chart impact.
The concept of the album was to explore the “walls” people put up to protect themselves. Any time something bad happens, we withdraw further, putting up “another brick in the wall.”

The Wall was one of two ideas Waters brought to the band when they got together to record in 1978. His other idea was The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking, which he ended up recording as a solo album.
Waters’ original demo for this song was just him singing over an acoustic guitar; he saw it as a short interstitial piece for the album. He explained in Mojo: “It was only going to be one verse, a guitar solo and out. Then the late Nick Griffths, the engineer at Britannia Row, recorded the school kids, at my request. He did it brilliantly. It wasn’t until I heard the 24-track tape he sent while we were working at Producer’s Workshop in Los Angeles that I went, ‘Wow, this now a single.’ Talk about shivers down the spine.”

When they first recorded this song, it was one verse and one chorus, lasting 1:20. Producer Bob Ezrin wanted it longer, but the band refused. While they were gone, Ezrin extended it by inserting the kids as the second verse, adding some drum fills, and copying the first chorus to the end. He played it for Waters, who liked what he heard.

“Another Brick In The Wall (part I)” is the third track on The Wall. This section, which contains many of the motifs found on Part II, explains that because Pink’s father went off and died in WWII, he built The Wall to protect him from other people. In the movie you see him at the playground with the other kids and their fathers, then one of the kids leaves with his father and Pink tries to touch the father’s hand. The father pushes him away quite aggressively, then leaves.

This segues seamlessly into Track 4, “The Happiest Days of Our Lives,” which runs 1:50. this is the section that includes the lines:

When we grew up and went to school
There were certain teachers who would
Hurt the children any way they could

“The Happiest Days of Our Lives” explains that the teachers must have it rough in their own homes, getting thrashed by their “fat and psychopathic wives,” which is why they take out their frustrations on the students.

This section flows into “Another Brick In The Wall (part II),” which is Track 5. Radio stations would sometimes play all three songs together, or start at “The Happiest Days of Our Lives.” >>
To make the album, the band came up with the concept of the character “Pink.” Bob Ezrin wrote a script, and they worked the songs around the character. The story was made into the movie The Wall, starring Bob Geldof as “Pink.” Many people believe you have to be stoned to enjoy the film.

For the stage show, a giant wall was erected in front of the band using hidden hydraulic lifts as they played. It measured 160x35ft when completed, and about halfway through the show, the bricks were gradually knocked down to reveal the band.

Waters sang lead. When he left Pink Floyd in 1985 and the band toured without him, Gilmour sang it.
Speaking with Top 2000 a gogo, Roger Waters said: “In the mid-’70s, I’d only just figured out a couple of years before that I was living my life, that I wasn’t actually preparing for something, that life was not something that was going to start at some point. This sudden realization that it started a long time ago, you just didn’t notice.

Really, the most important thing about that song is not the relationship with the school teacher. It was the first little thing I wrote where I lyrically expressed the idea that you could make or build a wall out of a number of different bricks that when they fit together provided something impermeable, and so this was just one of them.

When you hit puberty and start getting snotty, it’s good to have an adult around who will say, ‘Well hang on, let’s talk about that,’ rather than ‘be quiet.'”

The line “We don’t need no education” is grammatically incorrect. It’s a double negative and really means “We need education.” This could be a commentary on the quality of the schools.

The original idea for the concept of the actual Wall they wanted to create came from a problem Roger Waters was having during their concerts. When he started thinking about the show, he wanted to isolate himself from the public because he couldn’t stand all the yelling and shouting. “The Wall” was not just a symbol and a concept, but a way of separating the band from their audience.

The 1998 movie The Faculty has a version of this song remixed by Class Of ’99.

In England, this was released in November 1979 and became the last UK #1 of the ’70s.

On July 21, 1990, Waters staged a production of The Wall in Berlin to celebrate the destruction of The Berlin Wall.

In 2004, Peter Rowan, a Scottish musician who ran a royalties firm, started tracking down the kids who sang in the chorus, who were by then in their 30s. Under a 1996 copyright law, they were entitled to a small amount of money for participating on the record. Rowan was not so much interested in the money as in getting the chorus together for a reunion.

On July 7, 2007, Roger Waters performed this at the Live Earth concert at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. Live Earth was organized to raise awareness of global warming, and the slogan for the event was “Save Our Selves” (S.O.S.). Waters poked fun at Pink Floyd and the event by flying a giant inflatable pig overhead, which was a classic Pink Floyd stage prop, except this one was emblazoned wit the words “Save Our Sausages.”

Roger Waters did the Scottish voices on the track. He told Mojo magazine December 2009, “I can do mad Scotsman and high court judges.”

The teacher character in this song shows up again in Pink Floyd’s next album, The Final Cut (1983), notably in the song “The Hero’s Return.” He is based on the many men who returned from war and entered the teaching profession, as they had no other opportunities.

“Bully For You” is a song by Tom Robinson Band. The song’s lyrical hook is the repeated line, “We don’t need no aggravation.” Tom Robinson believe Pink Floyd (with whom the TRB shared both management and record label) took it as an influence when they were writing “Another Brick In The Wall,” specifically the line, “We don’t need no education.” TRB Two was released in March 1979; Floyd’s The Wall followed nine months later. Tom Robinson says in Classic Rock, November 2015: “There’s no question ‘We don’t need no aggravation’ was in the air around Roger Waters. Roger’s skills as writer are were far more developed than my own. He put a great idea to better use, so fair play to him.”

In 2021, Floyd frontman Roger Waters turned down a “huge, huge amount of money” from Facebook for the right to use “Another Brick in the Wall (part II)” in an ad campaign. For years Waters had been a very vocal supporter of Julian Assange, the head of Wikileaks, who was imprisoned in 2019 for espionage. Waters viewed Assange’s arrest as an attempt to silence true journalism and to stifle dissenting voices. He sees Facebook and the other big tech platforms as being part of that effort to silence dissent and “take over absolutely everything.”

Waters minced no words in his refusal of the money, stating, “And the answer is, F- you. No f-in’ way.” He also called Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg “one of the most powerful idiots in the world” after questioning how Zuckerberg became so powerful after starting FaceMash, which rated Harvard women based on their looks.

Waters did not make the announcement on social media. He did it the old fashioned way: at a press conference.

Courtesy of Songfacts

The Lyrics

Daddy's flown across the ocean
Leaving just a memory
Snapshot in the family album
Daddy what else did you leave for me?
Daddy, what'd'ja leave behind for me?!?
All in all it was just a brick in the wall.
All in all it was all just bricks in the wall.

"You! Yes, you! Stand still laddy!"

When we grew up and went to school
There were certain teachers who would
Hurt the children any way they could

By pouring their derision
Upon anything we did
And exposing every weakness
However carefully hidden by the kids

But out in the middle of nowhere
When they got home at night, their fat and
Psycopathic wives would thrash them
Within inches of their lives

We don't need no education
We dont need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone

Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!

All in all it's just another brick in the wall.
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.

We don't need no education
We dont need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave us kids alone!
All in all it's just another brick in the wall.
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.

[8:20] "Wrong, Do it again!"
"If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding. How can you
have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?"
"You! Yes, you behind the bikesheds, stand still laddy!"

{9:00} [Sound of many TV's coming on, all on different channels]
"The Bulls are already out there"
Pink: "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrgh!"
"This Roman Meal bakery thought you'd like to know."

I don't need no arms around me
And I dont need no drugs to calm me.
I have seen the writing on the wall.
Don't think I need anything at all.
No! Don't think I'll need anything at all.
All in all it was all just bricks in the wall.
All in all you were all just bricks in the wall.

[10:50] Goodbye, cruel world
I'm leaving you today
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye

Goodbye, all you people
There's nothing you can say
To make me change my mind

  18 comments for “Song Lyric Sunday – Education – Another Brick In The Wall

  1. November 28, 2021 at 10:53 am

    Such a classic!

    • Christine Bolton
      November 28, 2021 at 12:22 pm

      Yes thanks Mel ☺️💕

  2. November 28, 2021 at 2:33 am

    A great choice Christine, it says it all doesn’t it 💜💜

    • Christine Bolton
      November 28, 2021 at 7:34 am

      Thanks Willow! Yes it does 😦

  3. November 28, 2021 at 2:16 am

    This was my song choice as well. But it’s not scheduled to post for another four hours.

    • Christine Bolton
      November 28, 2021 at 7:36 am

      We always do that! Great song that really hits all the prompts Fandango ☺️👍 so good pick!

  4. November 28, 2021 at 1:50 am

    Our household favorite. One of the songs the we all know so well, even my mom 😀 😀 😀 Nice one Christine!

    • Christine Bolton
      November 28, 2021 at 7:37 am

      Thanks Janis! Same here ☺️💕

  5. November 27, 2021 at 11:43 pm

    A brilliant band from our days Christine ..

    • Christine Bolton
      November 28, 2021 at 7:38 am

      Yes Floyd was amazing! Thanks Ivor 😳💕

  6. November 27, 2021 at 10:30 pm

    Perfect choice! 🤩

    • Christine Bolton
      November 27, 2021 at 11:44 pm

      Thanks Paula! Great prompts this week thanks to you. ☺️👍

      • November 28, 2021 at 5:42 am


      • Christine Bolton
        November 28, 2021 at 11:59 pm

        Found you in spam Paula 😧. Thanks ☺️

  7. November 27, 2021 at 10:19 pm

    This was a super long post Christine, but a really great song. Thanks for sharing this and adding all of those interesting facts.

    • Christine Bolton
      November 27, 2021 at 11:43 pm

      Thanks Jim. Yes I know it was extremely long and I’m a little embarrassed by it. I tried to edit it but I felt like I was leaving out some pretty cool stuff so I left it as it was. I’m sure no one‘s going to read it all anyway 😬🤣

      • November 28, 2021 at 8:37 am

        I did and I learned a lot, and it was very enjoyable.

      • Christine Bolton
        November 28, 2021 at 12:23 pm

        Than’ you my friend ☺️💕

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