Roger Waters has never done anything small when it comes to "The Wall," the 1979 album and rock show about his own psychic struggle (1) that many music critics say signified the end of Pink Floyd's most fertile period. The first performances, in 1980 and 1981, were groundbreaking (2) in their scale, requiring stagehands (3) to erect a giant wall between the band and the audience that was knocked down at the show's climax. With its animated graphics and giant puppets (4), it set a standard for rock spectacles.
For the past two years Waters, 68, has been touring Europe and the Americas with a modern version of the show, filled with anti-war messages that allude to current events and jazzed up (5) with high-definition graphics projected on the wall. It has grossed (6) more than $333 million and helped Waters, who was Pink Floyd's bassist and chief songwriter before he quit the band in 1983, to reclaim some of its legacy. This spring, for his last tour through North America, Waters has created an even larger, outdoor version of the show.
Speaking by telephone during a tour stop in Atlanta, Waters - a die-hard pacifist who has long blamed (7) war on corporate greed (8) - talked about why a Pink Floyd reunion is highly unlikely and his plan, once the tour ends, to record his first studio album in two decades. Here are edited excerpts from that conversation.
Q: Will this be your last tour?
A: I haven't made up my mind (9). I've become very enamored of the outdoor show. It was a super challenge to see if we could take the arena production and made it work outdoors, and it works beautifully, but it is unbelievably expensive. So we are trying to figure out ways to make the numbers add up to go to Europe late next summer, in 2013. This show is such fun to do that I think I've got some more in me.
Q: What are the technical difficulties of performing "The Wall" in a stadium?
A: The thing that makes it really, really difficult is the weather. You can't guarantee good weather, so in consequence you have to travel with a roof, and because the show is so big we have to travel with a very big roof.
Q: At one point in the show, on the song "Mother," you do a duet with a film of your younger self singing during the original show. Do these songs still have the same resonance for you as they did 30 years ago?
A: For me the songs have all stood the test of time. Clearly I'm not as close to the events that I described in the song "Don't Leave Me Now." All the stuff that was about my early relationships with women is very much in the past. But I can still empathize with those dilemmas. And a lot of the other songs, I have realized, have a much wider political meaning than I understood at the time.
Q: What do you see as the contemporary political message of this show?
A: When it was first done, it was 32 years ago, and I was bemoaning (10) the fact I was a child of the Second World War, and I had lost my father, and that has a severe fracturing nature on the family, and it made me very angry about a lot of things. Since then I've realized that somehow the piece is not about little Roger losing his father in the Second World War; it's more universal than that. It's about all the children that lose their fathers and continue to lose their fathers because those of us who have the power are still almost entirely devoted to the idea that our only responsibility is to maximize the bottom line (11) and make profits.
Q: Your relations with the other surviving members of Pink Floyd - the guitarist David Gilmour and the drummer Nick Mason - have thawed (12) somewhat in recent years. [The keyboardist Richard Wright died in 2008.] Is a reunion tour a possibility?
A: I can't imagine the circumstances in which anything would happen. There was talk after we did Live 8 together in 2005, when Richard was still with us, we might get back together to do something political or for a charity. But, you know, the fact is, politically we are not a very close-knit team (13) .
Q: Why did it become increasingly hard for you to collaborate with the other members after the 1973 album "The Dark Side of the Moon"?
A: It became more and more like trying to wade through treacle (14), as is well known. We were increasingly at odds (15) because we had different aspirations. Up until "The Dark Side of the Moon," I think our thoughts and feelings were pretty concurrent: We wanted to become rich and famous and we worked together as a pretty close-knit team to that end, but once that end had been achieved, then there were other things that started to become important, certainly to me, and it became increasingly difficult to have to argue about stuff.
Q: Have you forgiven Gilmour and the other members for continuing to write and perform under the Pink Floyd name after you left?
A: Of course, yeah. He was right, I was wrong. It was really simple. I thought it should be retired but I was wrong. And I'm perfectly content with what they did. I had problems at the time. I don't have any problems now. In a way you could say it was a great tipping of the hatbecause they were going all around the world playing my songs - and some of their songs - so I guess it kept my music in the public eye for a few years.
Q: Have you been writing any new music?
A: I have. I have written so much, and it's been 20 years since I made a record. I came up with (15) a song a few weeks ago on the road and then I started playing it a bit with the band in rehearsals (17). I think it may be the central part and also the kicking-off point (18) for another album.
Q: Do you hope to work on that album when the tour ends on July 21?
A: Yes. If I don't work on it later this year, it might disappear, and I might never do anything again. So I think I have to, and I'm very enthusiastic about it. And it encompasses a lot of the other songs I've written over the years. There are tons of them. I just never found a big enough hook to hang them around.
Q: Is it true you have plans to visit a cemetery in Italy where your father's remains are?
A: There is a cemetery I plan to visit, again this year, because it's something I've put off and I can't put it off any longer. There is a cemetery near where my grandfather lies. He was in a mining company - Sappers, the 256th Royal Engineers - and he was one of those guys tunneling under the Germans in the First World War. So he's in a British cemetery in northern France. That's George Henry Waters. The remains of my father, Eric Fletcher Waters, were never found. But he is commemorated on Plaque No. 5 in the memorial garden at Monte Casino in southern Italy. So I'm thinking I might gather my children together, if they want to go, and go to both those places, just once.
1. struggle: lluita
2. groundbreaking: innovador
3. stagehand: tramoista
4. puppet: titella
5. jazzed up: animat
6. to gross: recaptar
7. to blame: culpar
8. greed: cobdícia
9. to make up your mind: decidir-se
10. to bemoan: lamentar
11. the bottom line: els beneficis
12. to thaw: descongelar
13. close-knit team: equip molt unit
14. wade through treacle: passar per entrebancs
15. to be at odds: estar en desacord
16. to come up with: acudir-se
17. rehearsal: assaig
18. kicking-off point : punt de partida
Find the following words in the glossary.
1. trial performance
3. negative desire for wealth and power
4. opposite of "to freeze"
5. to say somebody did something wrong
6. to make money an amount of before tax
7. a doll controlled by strings
8. person who builds scenery in the theatre
Complete these sentences adapted from the text with the correct preposition.
1. The tour is a kicking-_______ point for another album.
2. He came _______with a new song a few weeks ago.
3. I haven't made _______ my mind yet.
4. They were _______ odds* because they had different ideas.
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