The Lesson of Giving

Roger Waters and the Dark Poet

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The foundations of Roger Waters' political views

We are all shaped by our surroundings, our environment, the people and events that we encounter as we mature. While it is to be hoped that we continue to grow during our adult years, there is no doubt that our experiences in childhood have a more profound impact on our outlook than almost anything that comes along later in life. So to begin to understand the roots of Waters' social conscience, we have to look at his youth.

The most basic foundations of Roger Waters' political outlook came, not too surprisingly, from his parents Eric and Mary Waters. Eric Waters died when Roger was only five months old, and Roger naturally has no personal memory of him at all. There is a joke among Floyd fans that Roger Waters writes nothing but songs about his dead father, and while this is an overstatement, there is no doubt that the absence of a father figure weighed heavily on Waters for most of his childhood. In his DVD commentary on The Wall film, Waters remembers being taken as a very young boy to the Royal Fusiliers memorial chapel to hear about his father and read the elder Waters' name in the rolls. He also gets a bit choked during the playground scene in which fatherless Pink tries to attach himself to another boy's father. Although he admits that this event is purely fictional, it is clear that the child's longing for a father's companionship is quite personally meaningful to him.

Beyond the obvious references to his father's wartime death in The Wall and The Final Cut, Waters referred to him as early as 1972 in "Free Four" ("I am the dead man's son/He was buried like a mole in a foxhole"), and as recently as 1998's "Lost Boys Calling" ("You never took us fishing Dad/And now you never will"). In "Three Wishes", Waters makes one of his wishes "I wish when I was young/My old man had not been gone".

So who was Eric Fletcher Waters, this father Roger longs for but never knew? Not surprisingly, little is known to Floyd fans. Born in 1913, he attended Durham University, and eventually became a teacher who specialized in religious training and physical education. He was a communist and a Christian, and as a teenager he enjoyed foxhunting, and kept a diary. In fact, this diary has only come into Roger's possession in the last few years, and the poetic language used to describe his enjoyment of the hunt is credited with inspiring Roger's recent activism in support of the Countryside Alliance and foxhunting.

But Eric Waters' more profound effect on his son was through his death. Roger reluctantly admits that some wars are necessary and justified, and is proud of the fact that his father and grandfather (who died in World War I) "had the courage of their convictions, which caused them to give their lives for liberty and freedom." But over the years he became increasingly frustrated by the fact that his father's sacrifice had done nothing to stop further tyranny, further aggression, and further wars. This is most clear in The Final Cut, in which he grieves the fact that a new generation of children was destined to grow up fatherless because of continued hostilities, despite of the sacrifices of his father's generation.

To understand the roots of Roger Waters' social conscience, we have to look at his youth.

And what of Waters' mother? Mary Waters was, like her husband, an ardent socialist and an educator. She moved the family from Surrey to Cambridge when Roger was two, and eventually worked as a schoolmistress at Morley Memorial Junior School. Mrs. Waters probably had more direct influence on Roger than anyone. Although Pink's mother in The Wall is a grotesque, overbearing, overprotective caricature, he has said on several occasions that this is not representative of his feelings for his mother. In a 1980 interview, Waters credits her with giving him what he calls "a reasonable world view", adding "My mother was extremely left wing and I grew up really believing that left wing politics was where it was at."

Mary Waters taught young Roger by example the importance of being politically active. "I was brought up on Friends Meeting Houses and British-China Friendship Association and all that stuff, the people's struggle," Waters recalls. In fact, he credits his attendance at BCFA meetings with teaching him enough about the history of China's communist revolution that he refers to it in "Watching TV", which is largely a reflection on the 1989 student uprising at Beijing's Tiananmen Square. The British-China Friendship Association was an organization founded in the late 40s to promote cultural and political links with the newly-communist China. The Association promoted interest in Chinese culture via programs featuring Chinese gymnasts, musicians, and jugglers, and generally sought to maintain friendly relationships between Britain and communist China.

The "Friends Meeting Houses" Waters referred to are related to the Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers. Founded as a Christian offshoot in the 17th century by Englishman George Fox, an ardent pacifist, the movement has remained active both in the UK and in the US, where large numbers of Quakers sought religious refuge. The Quakers are largely a fairly liberal religious group which promotes tolerance, social activism, and public service. The Society is active in England even today, sponsoring peace vigils, human rights rallies, campaigns against animal cruelty, active blockades of nuclear or weapon depots, and so on. At present, there are three Friends Meeting Houses (where such meetings are held) in Cambridge, and at least eight more in neighboring communities.

One author described an English Society of Friends meeting thus:
No religious symbols, no minister preaching; instead everyone gathered in silence, seated around the centre without hierarchic structure. Silence is golden, and helps you to get in contact with this little voice within. Quakers believe that everyone may have direct experience of God, that there is 'that of God in everyone'. If anyone feels inspired, they would just stand up and share what they feel with the meeting.

The Quaker motto reads, in part:
"We are a community of friends respecting diversity...
...and open to new light from where ever it might spring.
Our service to others is our service to God."

It is certainly easy to see how this philosophy fits neatly with the social conscience espoused by Waters, especially in recent years. His lyrics preach the virtues of people in society looking after one another, supporting one another, and helping the less fortunate. The Quakers even use this concept of 'new light' shining forth from many sources in much of their writings, and you have to stop and wonder if this imagery had any influence on the similar image Waters used in "Each Small Candle".

As Roger grew up, he eventually started to get involved in youth organizations. Unfortunately, the nature of this involvement becomes difficult to piece together. Unfounded theories and bold assertions without clear documentation abound. For starters, there is the rumor that Waters was a Boy Scout, and he may well have been. It was a popular youth organization amongst his peers--Syd Barrett and Tim Renwick were both in Scouts (Barrett was the patrol leader). Waters' reference to "Scouting for Boys", the official Boy Scout manual, in "Welcome to the Machine" is assumed by some to be a statement that he was himself a scout. (Nevermind that "Welcome to the Machine" appears to be as much--if not more--about Barrett than Waters.) But I cannot find any clear evidence that Waters was a Scout. (In a 1994 interview, Tim Renwick mentions Barrett's involvement, but not Waters'.)

According to Tim Renwick, Waters "made history" by refusing to join the cadet force, a youth military organization.

It does appear, however, that Waters briefly flirted with membership in another fairly conservative, paramilitary youth organization. Renwick, in the same interview, mentions that "Roger made history by refusing to join the cadet force", calling him "a bit of a rebel". Certainly this suggests that joining the Cadet Force was fairly expected of him; perhaps this was the sort of thing that every boy did at that time and place, enough so that Roger's refusal was notable, at least to the younger Renwick, who evidently idolized Waters to some degree.

Another source says that Waters "did not like apprenticeship as a naval cadet, quit, and was given a dishonorable discharge." Unfortunately, this particular quote was found online and had no particular attribution, so there is no telling how accurate any of it is.

The 'Cadet Force' Renwick seems to have been referring to was likely the Army Cadet Force, a youth military club of sorts which, much like the Boy Scouts, teaches citizenship and discipline and woodcraft and military skills. According to their current promotional material, they provide an outlet for British teens to dress up in combat boots and camouflage face paint and learn operate automatic rifles. Now, as a youth Waters was into guns, both toys and real ones, but it seems highly unlikely that the anti-war Waters we know and love would be much interested in participating in such an organization. There is a similar organization with a distinct naval flavor called the Sea Cadet Corps, which may also be the 'naval cadet' group that Roger joined briefly before being dishonorably discharged.

But whatever the organization, one thing is clear: Waters was not much interested in playing junior army. In fact, the one group he did seem to really enjoy was the Youth Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. In fact, he rose to the position of chairman within the local Cambridge chapter as a teenager. As you might guess, this was an organization dedicated to protesting nuclear weapons (which, you will notice, is much more in line with Waters' anti-war ethic). Formed in the late 1950s, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (on university campuses) and Youth Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (for teens) eventually became overwhelmed as a mouthpiece for those protesting the war in Viet Nam. It survives today as a much smaller organization, but is still active in peace demonstrations, and in protesting American militarism. They are even trying to put together some investigations of Tony Blair and members of his administration for war crimes in the recent war in Iraq.

Roger Waters was chairman of the Cambridge Youth Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

That Waters would have been affiliated with such a group should come as little surprise. In the Wall film, he shows Pink's wife getting involved in a similar organization, marching in the streets and so on. And so strong were his concerns about a Cold War holocaust that he used nuclear war as the climax of The Final Cut and Radio KAOS (and, depending on your interpretation, possibly Amused to Death as well).

But it was Waters' exposure to leftist ideals that shaped his political thought the most. His mother held socialist meetings in their home, and was apparently officially affiliated with the Communist Party. This no doubt helped shape his negative attitude toward capitalism, monetarism, and what he likes to call the 'Market Forces'. In his view, lust for money blinds people from the fact that their actions are selfishly depriving others (especially the poor and the defenseless) of the ability to pursue happiness for themselves. Thus, anyone who subscribes to a capitalist philosophy, or defends capitalism, is bad.

Of course, this is an easy philosophy to subscribe to when you have nothing--you can either say that you are getting along okay without being part of the problem, or you can say that you are being kept down by The Man and Market Forces. (Waters was never really a member of the oppressed poor or defenseless, but at least he wasn't born into privilege.) But it all goes to pieces when you suddenly do have money. Now you have to either stand by your principles and give away everything that you don't need, or you change your position and cling to conservative principles (as many people do when they find themselves enjoying newfound financial success). Or you can become a hypocrite, talking the socialist talk from your fabulous mansion with the Rolls Royce and Jaguar parked out back.

As Waters put it recently, "When you suddenly make a lot of money, you have to decide whether to give it away to poor people or invest it. I decided to give some of it away to poor people and invest the rest. I was faced with that dilemma, coming from the background I did. I could no longer pretend that I was a true socialist, but twenty-five percent of my money went into a charitable trust that I've run ever since."

Waters' philanthropy over the years has included donations to and benefit performances for Amnesty International, the Countryside Alliance, the family of Timothy White, the Memorial Fund for Disaster Relief, and many more. By making such charitable donations and important part of his life, he doesn't have to consider himself a selfish, greedy capitalist, nor does he have to ascribe to the socialism-to-the-point-of-abject-poverty philosophy. He keeps some of his earnings and lives the good life, meanwhile assuaging his guilt with the knowledge that he is doing his part to help keep the socialist ideal alive, in which each member of society supports those around him, for the greater good of all.

Mike McInnis is a staff writer for Spare Bricks.


The Lesson of Giving

The Floyds put their money (woo-woo) where their mouths are

When you think of rock stars and charities, many names spring to mind. Bob Geldof feeding the starving children, Bono dropping the third world debt, Sting saving the rainforests (presumably with the money he makes flogging Jags). But Pink Floyd is a name that doesn't usually make the list. After all, they were space rockers, not conscience rockers.

Or were they? Contrary to popular belief, the Floyd, both collectively and as individuals, have done more than their fair share of fundraising over the years. They've rarely drawn attention to it; in keeping with their low public profile, their forays into the world of charity are rarely publicised. But even a cursory review of their history reveals all sorts of humanitarian activities. In fact, two of the Floyds even hold positions of leadership in charity organisations.

This charitable streak runs back to December 3, 1966, when the Floyd played a benefit gig for Zimbabwe at the Roundhouse (an Underground nightclub of sorts), followed a week later by a fundraiser at the Royal Albert Hall. This was followed in 1967 by a benefit for besieged Underground newspaper the International Times, followed by two dates in September '67 with the money going to Release.

The Floyd's infamous 1974 Gini ad, the proceeds from which were eventually donated to charity.

On June 29, 1968 the Floyd played the first-ever free rock concert in London's Hyde Park. Despite some misgivings from local politicians, it went well and the Floyd did another free gig there in 1970. In February 1969 they did two charity gigs in Scotland, and another at the Roundhouse in May. February 1970 saw them do a benefit for the Cardiff Art Center.

In October 1972 they did three dates at Wembley Empire Pool in support of War On Want, then in May 1973 they did two gigs for the SHELTER homeless charity at Earls Court. Later that year, on November 4, they played at a benefit concert in support of Soft Machine drummer Robert Wyatt, who had suffered a near fatal accident and was facing substantial medical costs. The concert ended up raising over 10,000 pounds for Wyatt.

However, some of Pink Floyd's charity work hasn't come from entirely benign origins. In 1974 they famously agreed to do an endorsement with French soft drink company Gini, only to get cold feet and feel terrible about it later. To stem the creeping feeling that they had sold their souls, they decided to donate all the money they received from the endorsement to charity.

Thankfully, not all endorsements are bitter clashes between art and commerce. For example, in 1986 Roger and the Floyd allowed the Samaritans to use a specially prepared mix of "Is There Anybody Out There" in a cinema advertisement. The ad featured extra screams from Roger and finished with the reassuring word 'YES' appearing on screen.

During the 1990s the Floyd's charity work shifted up a gear. They kicked it off by appearing at the Knebworth Festival on June 30, 1990, with the proceeds going to the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Center and the BPI's Brit School For The Performing Arts. Gilmour happily espoused the worthiness of the causes during his on-stage banter.

In 1993, Pink Floyd somewhat reluctantly entered a sponsorship agreement with Volkswagen for their forthcoming world tour. However, much like the Gini endorsement twenty years earlier, the band came to loathe their decision, and again the money they received from the deal was donated to charity. Around the same time, they donated 5000 pounds to the Environmental Investigation Agency, which at the time was concentrating on rhino conservation. The donation was done at the request of author Douglas Adams, in exchange for Adams naming their album, The Division Bell.

The conservation thread continued through out 1994. When Pink Floyd played two dates at Oslo, Norway at the end of August, the song "Marooned" was played as an encore. These two shows are the only time the band has ever performed the song live, and it was accompanied by Mr. Screen footage of whales frolicking. This was seen by many as a subtle condemnation of Norway's thriving whaling industry, but it's unclear whether the Floyd donated any money to accompany their views.

The 1994 run of Earls Court dates in October were another matter. The proceeds for all of these concerts went to Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and other charities.

As these gigs represent the last active work of Pink Floyd, most of their charity work as a group ends there, although recently, they donated some memorabilia to the Don't Lose The Music hearing loss initiative. But while the band might not be collectively doing much charity work (or any work!) anymore, individual members of the group have continued to donate their time and money for the good of the community.

The most striking example is Roger Waters, with his (in hindsight, overly ambitious) staging of The Wall in Berlin on July 21, 1990. The horde of guest artists drafted to perform failed to gel, and the performance was mixed at best. In addition, technical glitches and other problems hindered the production. Roger, to his credit, refused to offset the costs with corporate sponsor deals, and while his intentions were good, the concert lost money, and the Memorial Fund For Disaster Relief, the planned beneficiary of the performance, received nothing.

Roger wisely scaled down for his next charity performance--the Walden Woods benefit on April 1, 1992. The charity was set up by Eagles drummer Don Henley, the idea being to raise enough money to buy Walden Woods, thereby protecting it from further development. Roger appeared with Andy Fairweather-Low backed by Don Henley's band, and played a cut-down set. This time the concert was successful, and over the years the Walden Woods benefits have raised over $15 million.

Roger Waters performs at the 2002 "Music to My Ears" benefit concert.

Roger then took a lengthy hiatus before returning to the stage in 1999, and his extensive touring schedule allowed for two charity gigs in 2002: The Music To My Ears charity for the family of deceased rock journalist Timothy White, and another gig to raise money for the rather controversial Countryside Alliance, which lobbies for the rights of foxhunters, amongst other things.

But Roger isn't the only solo Floyd giving it up for charity. David Gilmour made the news recently when he donated over $12 million to Crisis, a UK-based charity which houses homeless people. The money was given in two separate donations several months apart, and Gilmour sold a house to raise the money for one of them. Gilmour's generous streak didn't go unnoticed by the Queen, and he was named a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in July 2003. He was also recently named as a Vice President of Crisis.

Nick Mason (4th from the right) appeared on this charity Christmas card last year.

Then again, charity work is nothing new for Gilmour--throughout the eighties and nineties he has taken part in numerous performances for charities including Live Aid, the Lung Foundation, Rock A Baby, Bop For Bosnia, the King Edward VII Hospital charity, Amnesty International, the White Lotus School, the Tibet House Trust, Childline, the Prince Of Wales Hospice, the Lavender Trust, the Prince's Trust, the Dalai Lama benefit, Friends Of The Earth and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

That last one is of particular interest to Pink Floyd fans--one of the members of the NSPCC National Appeal Board is none other than Nick Mason. In this capacity, Nick has made public appearances speaking for the charity, talking about their worthwhile cause and publicly accepting donations on their behalf.

In 2002, the NSPCC raised money for its 'Full Stop' campaign by selling Christmas cards based on the twelve days of Christmas. The cards themselves featured photos of celebrities and once again, Nick was happy to help out. Nick appears in the last card of the set, 'Twelve Drummers Drumming' alongside eleven other prominent rock drummers.

A Dark Side building block donated to a charity auction by Nick Mason.

Nick's work with the NSPCC hasn't stopped him from helping out with other charities, either. Again in 2002, Nick took part in an auction organised by Tommy's, a charity which researches the causes of cot death. The fundraiser involved a variety of celebrities, each of whom were given a child's building block. Each person was then told to decorate the block as they saw fit, and the decorated blocks were auctioned off on EBay. Nick's block featured the cover artwork from Dark Side Of The Moon, along with a flashing LED a la PULSE. The block sold for 490 pounds.

This is hardly an exhaustive list of Pink Floyd's charity work--I've only stratched the surface, and anyone willing to research will undoubtedly turn up more. Given the individual members' penchant for anonymity, there's probably things they've done for charity that we'll never hear about. Unlike some other celebrities, Pink Floyd generally don't use their charity work to catapult themselves into the media spotlight, which makes their contributions all the more welcome.

Chris Hogan is a staff writer for Spare Bricks.


Roger Waters and the Dark Poet

An American comedian lost in the 90s bears striking similarity to Roger Waters and Pink Floyd

Quick quiz: who does this sound like?

Bill Hicks, the Dark Poet

A performance with a carefully constructed conceptual framework. Individual parts of the show coalesce into a larger whole. Personal reflections with a pointedly political subtext about humanity's struggle for freedom against oppressive forces around them and from within. The performer occasionally breaks his flow to rant angrily at inattentive audiences.

You probably answered Roger Waters circa 1975, right? But you could also have answered Bill Hicks in 1992.

Bills Hicks was born in Valdosta, Georgia on December 16, 1961 to Jim and Mary Hicks. The family moved numerous occasions during Hicks' youth, eventually settling down in Houston in 1966. It was in Houston that Hicks formed friendships that would ignite his early interest in performing and comedy. He scored his first comedy gig in his early teens and found it a worthy pursuit that eventually carried him around the country to perform at the best-known comedy clubs and circuits.

He appeared in films (mostly forgettable indie stuff), on television (also forgettable), produced several albums of masterful live comedy, formed his own band (Marblehead Johnson) and recorded a music album with them, toured internationally to very receptive audiences (particularly in England), gained and lost a drinking habit, experimented with drugs, appeared on David Letterman 12 times, wrote columns, wrote books, wrote screenplays, raged at the stupidity he saw in the world, and died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 a month-and-a-half after his final performance.

And although Hicks never achieved the level of fame in his lifetime that he deserved, his work has stood the test of time and still inspires and entertains. In fact, Hicks' comments about the Gulf War in 1991 sound startlingly prescient here in 2004 ("We hope you enjoyed your fireworks display. Go back to sleep, America.")

His material barely sounds dated even now, over a decade later, a quality that his work shares with that of Pink Floyd. And it retains an amazing freshness that so many other comedians never manage. Some of it could be attributed to the fact that Hicks eschewed the standard approach of many of his contemporaries, that is, carefully working out their jokes and routines and delivering them word-for-word, treating a show more like a monologue as opposed to a live discourse. Hicks made frequent changes here and there, adding bits and pieces and improvising material where it suited him. In some instances he would explore the same topic with almost entirely rewritten material, taking the same idea and attacking it from numerous angles, testing it out live, improvising.

Not unlike a certain British psychedelic band!

Despite the fact that Hicks, an American comedian, worked in an genre and decade that was distinctly different in most respects than that of Pink Floyd in the mid-70s, Roger Waters and Bill Hicks often seem like kindred spirits, both artistically and politically.

Hicks in a rare television appearance on the short-lived Dennis Miller Show.

What exactly is a joke?

In the early 70s, Pink Floyd followed Roger's lyrical lead in exploring concept albums, that is, albums whose component songs play a role in expressing a larger statement or story. This exploration came to fruition with Dark Side of the Moon wherein all the songs explored on aspect of what Roger has called "anti-life forces" that exert themselves on modern humanity. Shortage of time. Money. Fear of dying. Insanity.

Nearly two decades later, Bill Hicks struck upon that same idea and decided to apply that approach to his comedy. His first attempt to string his comedy bits together with an extended theme saw the light of day at a seven-night engagement at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal in 1991. The show would expound on the idea of the evolution of myth and would contain on-stage theatrics (a la Pink Floyd) tightly worked into his act in a way that no other comedian had ever conceived. The stage was bare with an all-black background and a canopy of stars projected overhead. Hicks entered the stage through a smoky entrance like some entity entering our sphere of existence through some rip in the space-time continuum to the lulling tones of The Beatles "Tomorrow Never Knows." The critics were ecstatic about the shows. (One reviewer gushed that "Hicks just may be the closest thing we've got to Lenny Bruce....")

For Pink Floyd, this theatrical exploration spilled over into their albums. The sound effects forfeited their prior role as psychedelic background noise and became part of the story, adding to the theatrics of the Floyd's albums. Waters incorporated theatrical sound effects into Floyd albums in an effort to push them beyond the standard rock album.

Likewise, Hicks added musical soundtracks to his comedy recordings starting on Arizona Bay. Although at first, the idea of adding incidental music to a comedy album might seem frivolous or distracting (and may very well have been in clumsy hands) Hicks' impeccable timing and execution melded the music with his comedy perfectly. (Curiously--maybe intentionally--Hicks has described Arizona Bay as his Dark Side of the Moon.)

The music wasn't just an afterthought either. One gets the sense that, if it were possible, Hicks would have cloned himself on stage so the other Hicks could accompany him musically. An example: when Hicks decries religious zealotry on Arizona Bay, the show shifts into a much different tone. The soft, clean tones of his guitar strings being strummed underneath him and his audience's laughter is a strikingly natural fit. Similarly, the tribal drum beats that march across the sonic landscape when Hicks launches into a vitriolic tirade about George Bush's lost 1992 election to Bill Clinton amplifies the already chillingly hateful tones in Hick's rant ("YES, YOU'RE DEAD! YOU FUCKER! YOU FUCK!"). It's like you're suddenly no longer watching the comedian perform, but rather watching a film about this performance. The effect lifts you out of the mere act of listening to a comedy album into something more transcendent.

The alien comic cried

Neither Waters nor Hicks has demonstrated any capacity for suffering fools and that includes those in their audiences. Both performers found that as their popularity grew, so did the ratio of fool to fan in their audience. Neither performer enjoyed that fact and neither sat idly by.

In the mid-70s, Waters acquired the habit of telling his audience how he felt about their behavior. A prime example of Waters' short temper: the near-legendary 1975 Montreal show wherein Waters cut short a performance of "Pigs on the Wing (Part 2)" to scold some of the rowdier elements in the audience who were responsible for air horns, firecrackers and screaming.

Waters: Oh for fuck sake stop lighting off fireworks and shouting and screaming. I'm trying to sing a song! I mean I don't care.... If you don't want to hear it... you know... fuck you. I'm sure there are a lot of people here who do want to hear it. So why don't you just be quiet? If you want to light your fireworks off, go outside and light them off out there... and if you want to shout and scream well then go and do it out there. I am trying to sing a song that some people want to listen to. I want to listen to it.

Hicks didn't hesitate in asserting his feelings about his audience's behavior either, although he was a bit more venomous about it, as evidenced by this excerpt from a 1989 appearance at the Funny Firm in Chicago. Hicks had just been heckled by a drunk and disruptive woman in the audience and his patience had finally run out.

Hicks: You fucking cunt! Get the fuck out of here right now! Get out! Fuck you! Fuck you, you idiot. You're everything that's wrong in America that should be flushed down the toilet, you fucking turd. Fuck you! Get out! Get out, you fucking drunk bitch! Take her out! Take her fucking out! Take her somewhere that's good. Go see fucking Madonna, you fucking idiot piece of shit! "You suck buddy! You suck! I can yell at the comedian because I'm a drunk cunt! That gives me carte blanche!" I WANT YOU TO GO FIND A FUCKING SOUL!

And later to another disruptive drunken person in the crowd who had loudly announced that he was leaving:

Hicks: I'll pay you the money, just get the fuck out. The problem with you, dude, is this. The fact that you don't get it or like it is fine. The fact that you want to ruin it for everyone else, that's why you're a cocksucker. That's why. Do you go to, like, Eric Clapton concerts with your own fucking guitar?

The powers that be

And finally, politics.

If there were any issue on which Waters and Hicks would have seen eye-to-eye, it would have been their politics. Although none of Roger's lyrics have ever been outrightly political in nature (i.e., supporting any specific political candidate or advocating any given issue) his words have swept across the full spectrum of political concerns: war, fascism, politicians, world leaders, money, market forces, religion, human rights, and (some would say the real center of politics) power. Likewise, Hicks delved into all those topics in his standup comedy.

It's interesting to compare the lyrics on Animals to Hicks' last album Rant in E Minor. (Rant was recorded at a time when Hicks was aware of his cancer and you can hear it; Hicks is angry and spares no fool who dares gets on his bad side.) Both albums contain angry blasts at specific people. Animals contains swipes at people whose politics Roger felt were destructive. Likewise, Rant contains some startlingly vicious attacks against conservatives like Senator Jesse Helms, Rush Limbaugh as well as numerous performers whom Hicks felt sullied music and art with blatantly commercial concerns.

Then there's war. Waters expresses his feelings about the Gulf War quite unambiguously in Amused to Death. Hicks used his comedy stage to vent his frustration about the situation.

Hicks: I'm so sick of arming the world, then sending troops over to destroy the fucking arms, you know what I mean? We keep arming these little countries, then we go and blow the shit out of them. We're like the bullies of the world, y'know. We're like Jack Palance in the movie Shane, throwing the pistol at the sheepherder's feet.

Almost sounds like the basis of a Roger Waters song.

Rick Karhu is a staff writer for Spare Bricks