After the Wall
Part 1: On the Road Again
During the past year, Roger Waters -- once the chief songwriter in the band Pink Floyd and an erstwhile solo artist since 1984 -- has come out from behind a wall of his own making and is letting fans see him "In the Flesh" again.
Largely absent from the music scene since the early '90s, Waters took an active role last year in the assembling of Is There Anybody There?: The Wall Live 1980-81, a document of the concerts Pink Floyd performed for its multi-platinum 1979 opus The Wall. More importantly, he assembled a band and has toured each of the past two summers, playing a selection of Pink Floyd favorites and material from his solo career.
The new album he's working on has not been completed yet, but these days Waters -- who has a reputation as a meticulous perfectionist and taskmaster -- is enjoying the simple act of playing music for an audience and re-creating his old songs with a band of luminaries, which includes the triple guitar arsenal of Doyle Bramhall III, onetime Pink Floyd sideman Snowy White, and Andy Fairweather-Low. His battles with his former bandmates seem to be well in the past now, and Waters comes off as fully engaged in his current endeavors.
Musician.com: What inspired you to return to tour again?
Waters: I did a show for Don Henley in '92, when I was in L.A. working on Amused to Death. It was a charity gig for his Walden Woods project, and we did it in the Universal Amphitheater, just four guys who got together and did a few songs each -- John Fogerty, Neil Young, me, and Don himself. And I did four or five songs using his band, and I just found I really, really enjoyed it, playing a few of the old songs. The audience was really, really receptive, really warm. At that point, I thought, "I want to do this again."
Musician.com: It's interesting because the touring hasn't been tied to a particular album or other product.
Waters: I wanted to do a kind of small tour, nothing huge, just kind of drift around a few gigs in the States and put a little show together. Nothing too big, and keep it kind of reasonably relaxed and just do it. And that's what we did.
Musician.com: Has performing the songs in that context given you any new insights?
Waters: Yes, some of them take on different connotations. I don't know if I can be specific about that, but some of the songs which might have been written in the first case about something specific now have kind of a universal connection to them. I guess a song like "Wish You Were Here" might be a good case in point; that can be about almost any absence, thought I guess even that song has pretty specific lyrics about "exchanging walk-on parts for lead roles in cages." But, nevertheless, it' s kind of a song about loss.
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