Darkside of Roger Waters

My wife and I had the pleasure of attending the 2008 Coachella music festival last week. Every year we look forward to the beginning of February when the line up for the festival gets posted. When the line up finally did get posted this year, I saw that one of the headliners was “Roger Waters – The Darkside of the Moon”. This was the concert’s way of assuring potential attendees that Roger would not just play his post Floyd songs but would indulge us with what we really wanted to hear.

The show started out with eight or so Floyd songs. The entire audience was in a collective state of awe due to hearing songs that they’ve listened to so much but had never heard performed live. After playing “The Fletcher Memorial Home” Roger played his first non-Floyd song of the set, “Perfect Sense”, which contains the lyrics:

And the Germans killed the Jews
And the Jews killed the Arabs
And Arabs killed the hostages

The first two lines compare the Holocaust to the worldwide treatment of Arabs by Jews. Roger compares the systematic extermination of 6 million Jews for the sole reason of being Jewish to Israel’s attempts to protect its citizens from often hostile neighbors. Further, he uses the common anti-Semitic device of attributing anti-Israel sentiment towards all Jews. Whatever Roger perceives the killing of Arabs by Jews to be, it apparently justifies the Arabs killing the hostages.

One has to ask is this done out of stupidity, naivety, or intentional bigotry? Its hard to imagine that anyone who could have come up with, “We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl” is stupid, or someone who has traveled the world is naive. The only logical conclusion that one can come to is that Roger is being intentionally anti-semitic. Maybe when he said, “And that one looks Jewish, and that one’s a coon … If I had my way I’d have all of ya shot,” he was expressing his own beliefs and not describing Pink’s hallucination of himself as a dictator as satire of being a popular musician with influence over the impressionable masses.

A few songs later Roger played “Sheep” and augmented the experience by having a two-story sized inflatable pig hover above the audience, which in my estimate consisted of about 30,000 raving fans. The pig displayed the words “Don’t be led to the slaughter” and a cartoon of Uncle Sam wielding two bloody cleavers. The other side read “Fear builds walls.” The underside of the pig simply read “Obama” with a checked ballot box alongside. Roger’s message to Americans is don’t be gullible sheep led to the slaughter by your evil government. Funny to convey such a message by hovering a school bus sized pig over the heads of 30,000 impressionable fans while they sing along with you and waive their arms in approval, much like Pink’s fans in his hallucination. As Maynard once said, “Repeat after me – Think for yourself, question authority, think for yourself, question authority, think for yourself, question authority… and never ever do what others tell you to do.” Thats wisdom, floating an inflatable pig over your audience is cheap.

After a short break, Roger played all of Darkside which was pretty phenominal. The band left the stage and came back a minute later for an encore. The first song they played for the encore was Another Brick in the Wall (Part II, for those keeping score) pretty amazing to hear this live, but once again it was tarnished as the images in the background were of Waters spray painting “tear down the wall” on the wall in Israel between Jerusalem and the West Bank. With regard to the wall Waters has said,

“It’s craziness, it’s a horrific edifice, this thing. I’ve seen pictures of it, I’ve heard a lot about it but without being here you can’t imagine how extraordinarily oppressive it is and how sad it is to see these people coming through these little holes.”

I wonder if Roger has seen, first hand or even in pictures, the torn up, charred remains of a bus and human body parts after a suicide bomber has come from the other side of that wall and blown himself up. The wall is controversial and without a doubt slows down mobility of law abiding citizens, but to present it out of context, without any reference to the terrorism that it attempts to prevent is disingenuous. When the trade offs are between an extra hour to get to work on one hand and random people being blown up on buses on the other, unfortunately the mobility has to be sacrificed and people have to go through these little holes. In my opinion, going through little holes on your way to work is better than being blown up on your way to work. Hopefully, once there is a Palestinian leadership in place that does not explicitly support terrorism (Hamas, Arafat) or implicitly support it by not doing enough to stop it (Abbas) there will be no need for the wall and it can be torn down.

The final piece of Israel bashing came during the second to last song of the show, Bring the Boys Back Home. Towards the end of the song four flags were displayed on the screen behind the band. The first was Israel’s and the last was the U.S.’s. One has to ask, where does Roger want Israel to bring their boys back home from? From the Lebanese border so that Hezbollah can come in and destroy the North of the country? From the Golan Heights so that Syria can come back and at will shoot at the Ein Gev Kibbutzniks as it did prior to 1967? From the Gaza border so that Hamas can come in and kill people without having to shoot Qasams at Sderot and Ashkelon as they are doing now?

The show closed with Comfortably Numb. The overall musical performance, if it could be appreciated independently of the anti-Israeli and anti-semitic sentiment, was absolutely amazing. I however could not separate the two and the three hour extravaganza was ruined for me. At the end I was left wishing that Roger’s lips moved but no one could hear what he was saying.


19 Responses to “Darkside of Roger Waters”

  1. 1 el mariachi May 4, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Musicians like Waters tend to be really talented at what they do. Often they think that talent extends to just about any other intellectual pursuit (like politics). Rage Against the Machine, Propagandhi, and a whole host of punk rock bands are prime examples of great musicians hamstrung by a worldview that can best be described as malformed. It’s easy to blow holes in their arguments, but I much prefer to just enjoy the music, regarding the lyrics in the same vein as a twelve year old’s demand for candy. If you can listen to the lyrics of Sigur Ros (and I know you can), you can probably reach the same appreciation of it. As the old saying goes, “when a donkey bray at you, don’t bray back”.

  2. 2 breakfast May 7, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    I was at this show as well. Hearing the first few songs of the set was an unreal experience. It made me feel as though I had somehow been transported back in time (before I had even been born). However, after listening and singing along to classic songs, I was struck pretty forcibly by the strong imagery and lyrics that followed, attacking my own identity and values. The initial awe of hearing Pink Floyd songs performed live faded away as the offensive politics entered the show.

    A recent article in the WSJ discusses the problem Israel faces from people like Roger Waters:

    “no other country has been so circumspect in using force against the provocations of its enemies. Nor has any so consistently preserved the civil liberties of its own citizens. That goes double in a country so constantly beset by so many threats to its existence that its government would long ago have been justified in imposing a perpetual state of emergency.”

    “For reasons both telling and mysterious, Israel has become unpopular among that segment of public opinion that calls itself progressive. This is the same progressive segment that believes in women’s rights, gay rights, the rights to a fair trial and to appeal, freedom of speech and conscience, judicial checks on parliamentary authority. These are rights that exist in Israel and nowhere else in the Middle East. So why is it that the country that is most sympathetic to progressive values gets the least of progressive sympathies?”

  3. 3 edd Stanford February 2, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Zamir, I really don’t understand quite why you feel hurt by Roger Waters lyrics. Please explain again how you have come to believe that Waters is “Anti-Semitic”. Please define “Anti-Semitic” and then build your rationale from that definition. If you are not able to do that then…. well, no more needs to be said.

  4. 4 zamirsnest February 3, 2009 at 4:24 am

    Edd, thank you for your comment. My definition of anti-Semitism is persistent, hostile beliefs towards, and hatred of Jews, individually and as a group. Some examples of ant-Semitism on a grand scale are, the crusades in the 11th century, blaming of Jews for starting and spreading the black plague in the 14th century, the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th, and the Holocaust in the 20th. Some recent examples on a smaller scale are, a “No Jews allowed, but dogs are welcome” sign in an Istanbul coffee shop, a molotov cocktail thrown at a synagogue in Chicago, defacing of Jewish cemeteries with swastikas all over Europe.

    The lyrics that I was bringing attention to and believe to be anti-Semitic are:

    And the Germans killed the Jews
    And the Jews killed the Arabs
    And Arabs killed the hostages

    The comparison of the holocaust to the Arab/Israeli conflict in the first two lines is absurd. One one hand you have the systematic extermination of six million people based on their ethnicity/religious beliefs and on the other you have Israel’s fight for survival against a collection of hostile neighbors.

    The blatant anti-Semitism in the lyrics is in the attribution of the blame of killing Arabs on all Jews. Worse the lyrics imply that all Jews (not the Israeli Defense Force) kill all Arabs (not those that attack Israeli civilians).

    The implication of the last two lines is that hostage killing is a justified response to the fabricated generalization of Jews killing Arabs. Lyrics like this promote brainwashing and incite bigoted violence like the incidents described above.

  5. 5 John-icide July 24, 2010 at 12:40 am

    Now that GilourBridged and WatersStinkUnder have reunited for a Hamas funneled excuse for charity for the kids inside the wall, what the hell am I, a former Jew Floyd fan, to do?
    I am so disappointed as to their Palen-wood (aka Hollywood in London for rich Palestine funded crap) decisions….I am so glad they aren’t touring. Does anyone remember the ol’ song of the More Album, which read, “appprehension creeping like a jew train up your spine”…(Cymbaline). Dexpite the fact that Gilmour sang lead, and my impression was it was one of their best songs throughout their career, what a bunch of bollocks. They were always ego inflated, money eyed, trying to prove they were right behind the Beatles and The Stones…but thank god Punk came along, which at least in its early years, didn’s kiss suicide bombers, militants who fight out of Lebanon’s wreck due to civil war, or the hiding places in hospitals and schools, as well housing. It is much harder to say why we are creating a holocaust to come with these long downhill overpaid aged musicians. I have no doubt, there is no hatred greater tan Waters trying to rationalize “together we stand, divided we fall”. He seems to want to be a prophet, and beat Bibi to the ground so he can have Israel unacknowldeged, at best!! The only thing worse, in short, than a Nazi bastard, is a 100quid million bastard trying to play dominoes with Jews. What a Goy asshole!

  6. 6 AG788 August 26, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    I don’t think he is anti-semetic, I think he is ignorant (which hurts me to say since I am an avid Floyd fan).. unfortunately he is a combination of those two terrible things… ingnorant and powerful (by means of being a loved public figure).

    I’m actually in a bind over this right now… I have tickets to his 2010 Wall tour, but I am conflicted over whether I should go or not. In the face of everything that is happening in Israel right now (Iran’s nuclear upgrade, flotillas, anti-Israel progressive movement across the world), I don’t know if supporting his cause by going to his concert is what I should be doing… on the other hand, this is the experience of a life time.. I am really trying to take that stance mentioned in the earlier posts of dismissing his agendas and just loving the music… but its a bit artificial..

    • 7 zamirsnest August 29, 2010 at 7:03 pm

      Thank you for the great comment.

      When I chose to go listen to and watch Roger at Coachella in 2008 (it really was a choice since there are usually five acts playing simultaneously at Coachella), it was with some unease due to the reasons you describe above. I was aware of some of the offensive lyrics (above) in his solo works, but being a Pink Floyd fan myself could not pass down the chance to hear those older songs live.

      As the show progressed, his ignorant and malformed imagery turned that unease into disgust and I actually did leave before he completed the set and took in some excellent work from Justice.

      I am able to ignore and dismiss musicians’ misguided agenda as long as it does not pervade the essence of their music and does not cross an intolerable line. For example, I’ve enjoyed Radiohead and Pearl Jam shows even though I don’t agree with a lot of what Thom Yorke and Eddie Vedder have to say on and off the stage. Roger violates both of my conditions since his “politics” do take over the show and I do feel that his views are intolerable.

  7. 8 sender September 16, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    The only message to take from that stanza is that Waters is a bleeding heart. I’m sure he’s opposed to all organized killing on principle, whether it’s the act of a genocidal despot, or action taken by a parliamentary government for self defense, or the actions of a few radicals.

    It may be a bit naive to look at the actions of this Israel government or that one and say “I don’t know what’s going on, all I see is organized killing.” But it’s not ultimately unreasonable. Bumbling and stupidity are the handmaidens of democratic foreign policy, and innocent people die behind every legitimate reason for acting.

    • 9 zamirsnest October 4, 2010 at 3:53 am

      Thanks for the comment, sender. I think that anyone in his/her right mind is appalled by and opposed to any kind of killing.
      Unfortunately, violence does exist and in most cases is not easily quelled without violent responses. As a society, we need to be able to distinguish and reason about distinct incidents.

      The problem with bleeding hearts like Roger is that throwing a moral equivalence blanket over all acts of violence is that it encourages the incendiary acts by putting them in the same bucket as the acts that attempt to quell them. Whether this is done out of naivety or intentional ill will, it ultimately causes more people to be hurt.

  8. 10 Dave September 28, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Waters is clearly anti-Jewish and a bigot. Talented musically. Not knowledgable about history. Then again, a majority of the world is like him – completely ignorant about factual history. Reliant on the media instead of researching history first-hand from direct sources to learn the truth. Quite sad indeed.

  9. 11 Steve in Long Island September 28, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Amen to that, Dave !

    What a sad state this world is in. Totally blinded by Satan and our own selfish/lazy/greedy flesh.

    When will we wake up?

    Surely the Lord is far more mericful and long-suffering than I would ever hope to be !

    Father forgive us, for we know not what we do!

  10. 12 Sam Kinsey September 30, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Perhaps this will result in further bashing, but before someone (John-icide, above) accuses Roger Waters of anti-Jewish lyrics in the song “Cymbaline” they should read the actual lyrics and research something about British culture. The actual lyrics are “Apprehension creeping/like a tube train/up your spine. . .” A “tube train” is a train on the London underground rail system, nicknamed The Tube. Remember that, anyone?

    Now back to your iPods and IMs. . .

  11. 13 Jazzy October 8, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Those who accuse roger of being anti-semitism are simply odiots!. If they don’t like his lyrics why they go to his shows?

    “Israel’s attempts to protect its citizens from often hostile neighbors” This is what usually happens when we stole neighboor’s land!

  12. 14 James Collins March 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    If you look hard enough you’ll find just about anything anti-Semitic.

    Well done!

    • 15 zamirsnest March 10, 2011 at 1:07 am

      Thanks for the comment, James.

      This may be true and is probably true as well of other prejudices. It does not however excuse legitimate instances of those prejudices such as this one. So, my friend, the praise is all yours for propagating Roger’s bigotry.

  13. 16 neotenousape June 21, 2011 at 12:34 am

    Jazzy hit the nail on the head. Israel’s behaviour is oppressive to the Palestinians. If you see it as self-protection, nobody else does. And of course, all of us who point out this simple truth are labelled as anti-semites, which is just a lie.

    • 17 zamirsnest June 25, 2011 at 12:18 am

      Thanks for the comment, neotenousape. Instead of making a vacuous blanket statement, please point out something specific so we can discuss it deeper. And, no, folks who make legitimate arguments against Israel get legitimate response and are not labeled as anti-semites. Its only those who single out Israel disproportionally and base their arguments on stereotypes, half truths, and lies that receive the label.

  14. 18 muman613 May 23, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    There is no such thing as a ‘Palestinian’. The term was invented by Arafat as a way of destroying Israel. All those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it. The arabs were given a partition of land when Israel was established by Britain. This was called Trans-Jordan and it was much larger than the land given to the Jewish people. But the arabs did not want to live near Jews and swore to push us into the sea. They started the War and they lost, badly. Israel won the land fair and square, and if the arabs really wanted a Palestinian land why did they wait till after 1968 to make such claims. There was never a ‘Palestinian’ people until the establishment of Israel, before that they were Jordanian {See what the Jordanian King said about it}.

  15. 19 muman613 May 23, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    By the way I used to be a BIG BIG Pink Floyd fan… I burned all my floyd and RW cds once I learned that RW was using Magen Davids in its anti-semitic imagery. Imagine if Roger used the Islamic crescent on his props? Do you think there would be any ‘islamic rage’? He is too much a sissy to aggravate the dark unwashed islamic masses.

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