Big Man, Pig Man…
Haha… Charade you are!
You… Well-Heeled, Big Wheel…
Haha… Charade you are!
Throughout his career, Waters has frequently criticized people with power who treat others like refuse. From the sadistic rock star in “One of My Turns” to the cavalier rich of “Money;” and, later, from the drone pilots in “The Bravery of Being Out of Range” to the financial barons of “The Powers That Be,” he’s skewered such characters from all walks of life.
But on Pink Floyd’s “Pigs (Three Different Ones),” he’s the most excoriating of all. Sneering throughout, Waters mocks the people who lie “with their hands on their hearts,” opt to “radiate cold shafts of broken glass” instead of compassion, and become “house-proud town mice” who impose their morality on others. For Waters, these people are pigs — three different ones — and little more than charades. Not /sha ‘ rades/ as the word’s phonetic spelling dictates; but, rather, /sha ‘ rods/ like he intones to give each one a further poke in the eye.
Due to Waters’ ambiguity, though, many listeners have been left grasping over the years to identify his “pigs.” Outside of Mary Whitehouse, an infamous British naysayer he mentions in the song’s third verse, there’s several possibilities for the other two: Rafael Trujillo, Pol Pot, Nicolae Ceausescu, Augusto Pinochet, or maybe Fulgencio Batista. Given those candidates, it’s no surprise Waters decided to modernize the other “pigs” for his Us + Them Tour; even less a surprise that he picked these guys from his potential list of “bus stop, rat bags”: Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.
Tonight, during “Pigs (Three Different Ones),” Waters splashed caricatures of Trump and Putin over a mammoth LED-screen projection of Battersea Power Station in South West London. (Memorably, the station was photographed for the cover of Pink Floyd’s album Animals.) And as the song unfolded, the word CHARADE came dropping on their images like a dagger. With its every appearance, the band grew louder and Waters’ glee, unnerving. The spectacle was scorching. Not since Zach de la Rocha left Rage Against the Machine years ago has a rocker mounted this big of an attack on contemporary “pigs.” There’s just no one in the genre outside Waters anymore daring enough to combat them.
Lyrics from “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” by Pink Floyd, 1977.
Roger Waters (vocals, bass) with Jess Wolfe (backing vocals), Holly Laessig (backing vocals), Dave Kilminster (guitar), Jonathan Wilson (guitar), Gus Seyffret (bass), Jon Carin (keyboards), Bo Koster (keyboards), Joey Waronker (drums), and Ian Ritchie (saxophone) at Barclays Center. Us + Them Tour.
Photos by Rick Stachura. September 12, 2017.
(1) “Pig” Trump.
(2) “Charade” Trump. Kilminster, Wolfe, Laessig, Waters, Koster, Carin, and Seyffret.
(3) “Baby” Trump.
(4) Russian President Vladimir Putin presents “Baby” Trump. Kilminster, Wolfe, Laessig, Waters, Koster, and Carin.
(This story was originally posted to my old Tumblr site on May 14, 2018.)