The Wall - Pink Floyd
In 1980 I was attending East Ivanhoe Primary School in the Suburbs of Melbourne.
Mum and Paul were living interstate in sunny Port Macquarie, but because I loved Aussie Rules so much I wanted to stay in miserable, cold old Melbourne, so I lived between my Nan's and Dad's places.
I didn't know any other kids who had suffered through their parent's divorce.
I felt different to everyone else and quite alone.
I was good at sports which made me popular. I was always quick to be chosen for a team and I guess this kept my self esteem buoyant.
East Ivanhoe School was built in 1930, which isn't that old, but it was the oldest school I'd attended and with the high ceilings, old style desks and dim light etc it felt very foreboding to me as a 10 year old.
It felt like a relic to another time. A time of great sorrow and hardship, but I was probably not in the happiest of headspace at the time, so it's not a reflection on the school itself. All the other kids seemed very bubbly and friendly and kind.
The first time I saw the film clip to 'Another Brick in the Wall' - I was terrified.
All those school students being turned into sausage meat.
I didn't understand the concept or the metaphor behind the song/album/film as a kid, I just felt it and it made my skin crawl and my belly brain nauseated.
The kids all singing the chorus and then turning over their desks and running a riot in the school room.
It was disturbing! What was the message? What are they doing to us here at school?
Like the young boy in the film, I too was already writing poems. Somehow it felt personal. I could relate.
Then there was vaccination day, and we all lined up to receive the needle in our arms. I just couldn't understand what was going on.
A few years later in my teens I watched the film and was blown away by the animation and the overall power of the product.
I'm still not sure I fully understood it all. Still I was just feeling it, sensing it.
It quickly became one of my older brother's go to movies.
He'd sit in his bong room with his mates in what seemed like one eternal night and they'd watch 'The Wall' over and over, briefly interrupted at times by 'Scarface' and they'd smoke themselves into oblivion.
When ever I would pass by that room I felt strange, the blue light of the screen bursting through the gaps with a waft of weed and incense, and that sound, that ever haunting sound of Pink Floyd with all it's epic melancholy and subconscious stimuli.
Years went by, I suffered more at the hands of fate, I grew, I deepened, I read, I listened, I lived, I loved, I lost and I found.
I re-listened to Pink Floyd from a new perspective and fell in love, particularly with 'Dark Side of the Moon' , 'Wish you were here' and 'Meddle', and in fact I've loved those albums more than 'The Wall' it's true and probably played them more often.
They're enchanting masterpieces each one of them, the production they achieved is unmatched, the harmony's, Gilmore's Epic Guitar tone and the melancholy in his voice, Wright's keys, the synth parts, the drum sounds, the sound effects, the tape delays, the filtering - unsurpassed brilliance!!!!
And then if your mind weren't already blown - the lyrics of Roger Waters. POW!
I'm sure people have passed out listening to Pink Floyd there's no doubt.
'The Wall' was their last album together with Waters.
Waters was inspired to write the album, legend has it after spitting in a fan's face on a stadium tour. Waters was feeling more and more alienated by his fame and his audience.
'The Wall' is real. I'm typing this onto it.
There are a number of fantastic TED talks by Ken Robinson on how the school system, created as it was in the industrial revolution, numbs us to our creative potentials and alienates us from our passion and engaging at a deepler level with the very building blocks of our own uniqueness.
When the internet was born in silicone valley by hippies and revolutionaries I'm sure they had high hopes for it's potential to bring us closer together and to break down the wall.
Alienation is a terrible thing. Loneliness is one of the great killers there is no doubt. People live longer when they feel connected to others. Suicide is one of the biggest killers in Australia once you take into account the life expectancy data.
Sure smoking will kill you, but if it kills you at 70, it might have taken 15 years off your life, but if you commit suicide at 34, 24 or 16 then it's taken up to 70 years off your life.
Community is invaluable.
The more we can do to build it the better off we will all be.
Trust too is a key factor.
Every time you get ripped off, cheated, lied to, betrayed etc you put another brick in the wall.
Every time you reach out and help some body, show them kindness, forgiveness, give them a helping hand etc you take a brick out of the wall.
Of course I know, i know I've helped people who've then ripped me off - it happens, people are building their walls daily.
Some people are so broken by life, that it's hard to know where to begin. :(
And then there's the whole refugee crises and it's going to get worse as climate change continues.
I'll never forget being in Paris after September 11 in 2001 and seeing the Army and the Tanks out on the street in a show of force.
My friend's grandmother started crying because it reminded her of the Nazi occupation that she had lived through many years earlier.
She said the French people were worse than the Nazi's, because they lost their dignity. She said they were so paranoid, that they would dob in their neighbours as Jew sympathises if they even looked at them the wrong way.
I'll never forget her words.
I came back to Australia and Howard had just circulated a pamphlet that said, "Be alert, not alarmed!" - National Security is paramount, there is no doubt, we all deserve to live life free from harm, abuse and the threat of violence, but we need to build trust and we need to build community, we need to break down the walls, not build more.
It very well maybe an emotionally potent oversimplification, but paranoia and fear of the other trumps it in terms of irrationality.
Stay open, be kind, listen to others and help out when you can - it's easier said than done of course- I naturally retreat into the world of my art, into song, into dreams - our species seems too far gone some days, but then I think of how creative and adaptive we are as a species and it inspires me no end. The future is being created every day, I say do what you can to make it more inhabitable, fair and sustainable.
Walls will fall and mountains too will erode - ah now I feel like i've toppled over into the effluent slurry of cliches and suddenly become overly self conscious - yuk yuk vomit vomit.
Words words blah blah - somethings are beyond words, although I didn't understand the depth of this Pink Floyd Masterpiece when I first heard it - I felt it and I felt it deeply.
I'll shut up now and let the music do the speaking.