Friday, January 23, 2009

Us and Them

Us, and them
And after all we're only ordinary men.
Me, and you.
God only knows it's not what we would choose to do.
Forward he cried from the rear and the front rank died.
And the general sat and the lines on the map moved from side to side.
Black and blue
And who knows which is which and who is who.
Up and down.
But in the end it's only round and round.
Haven't you heard it's a battle of words
The poster bearer cried.
Listen son, said the man with the gun
There's room for you inside.

Down and out
It can't be helped but there's a lot of it about.
With, without.
And who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about?
Out of the way, it's a busy day
I've got things on my mind.
For the want of the price of tea and a slice
The old man died.

- Released 1973

Before its release, the song was known as "The Violent Sequence" which is available on bootlegs.

- The song
addresses ethnocentrism, conflict and the belief that a person's self is "always in the right"

- The tune was originally written on the piano by Rick for the movie Zabriskie Point in 1969; this is where the "Violent Sequence" title came from. Director Michelangelo Antonioni rejected it on the grounds that it was too unlike their "Careful with That Axe, Eugene"-esque work, which was the style of music he wanted to use. As Waters recalls it in impersonation, Antonioni's response was, "It's beautiful, but too sad, you know? It makes me think of church."

One of Pink Floyd's first uses of female backup singers. They brought in Liza Strike, Leslie Duncan and Doris Troy to sing harmonies.

Leslie Duncan "Love Song" (was covered by Elton John on his album, Tumbleweed Connection)

Doris Troy - "Just One Look" Hit #10 in 1963

- This is yet another song on the album where the band used spoken word parts:
"I mean, they're not gonna kill ya, so if you give 'em a quick short, sharp, shock, they won't do it again. Dig it? I mean he got off lightly, 'cause I would've given him a thrashing, I only hit him once. It was only a difference of opinion, but really, I mean good manners don't cost nothing do they, eh?"

- Author's Note: The song is a metaphor for the division between those who are ordinary in their work, and those who are in authority. The "Us" is the front rank military and the ordinary citizens of this world. The "Them" is the ranking officials, CEO's, politicians, and business owners who keep the ordinary, well, ordinary. There is a unique similarity to wars and our daily work- they are both jobs under the dutiful commands of others, or in this case, Them. The idea is that we are all the same: "in the end it's only round and round." But only in the end, are we the same. "For the want of the price of tea and a slice, the old man died."

It is merely another song on the album dealing with death and the significance of life.

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