A rarely released single saw them dominate the charts and challenge the school system
What you need to know:
- Pink Floyd released ‘Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2) on this day in 1979 which topped the charts in 11 countries and went platinum in America and the UK.
- It was their first UK single since ‘Point Me At The Sky’ in 1968.
- Roger Waters did the Scottish voice for the track, a mad Scotsman is one of the accents he confesses he can do.
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It was something fresh for the band as they rarely released singles due to feeling the context of an album was where songs were best appreciated, but producer Bob Ezrin convinced them the track could leave a mark on its own and not hurt album sales.
Gee, was he right.
The single was their only number one hit and it topped the charts in a whopping 11 countries and was in the top five in another two, eventually going platinum in America and the UK.
The track was not well-received in every country though, with South Africa banning the song after the lyrics were used by school children to protest their inferior education in apartheid-era black schools.
It goes without saying that Waters wrote the song about his views on formal education which were formed during his time at the Cambridgeshire School for Boys.
Although he disliked his teachers and their intention to keep students quiet rather than teach, he told Mojo in 2009 that the song is meant to be satirical.
“You couldn’t find anybody in the world more pro-education than me,” Waters said.
“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”.
The children’s choir in the song’s chorus featured children aged 13-15 from Islington Green School in North London, close to Floyd’s Britannia Row Studios.
It was made up of 23 kids who were overdubbed 12 times to make it sound like there were more.
It was later revealed that the chorus was not paid for the work which did not sit well with the teachers, especially considering the anti-school messaging, so the chorus was given recording time in the studio in exchange for their contribution, while the school received £1000 and a platinum record.
Oh, and if you have ever wondered who the mad Scotsman is, that is Waters himself.