Now more than ever, the phrase “all in all you’re just another brick in the wall” has significance in our lives. The famed Pink Floyd song was penned for Roger Waters’ opus, The Wall, the second in a three part series of wall-building tracks from the album. Though The Wall was released at the end of 1979, “Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)” came out a couple months later as a single in the U.S., where it skyrocketed to the #1 position on the charts. To date, the song is the only #1 hit for Pink Floyd.
The song itself holds an iconic place in Floyd’s catalog, segueing in from “The Happiest Days of Our Lives” with a powerful scream and its memorable hook refrain, “we don’t need no education.” Producer Bob Ezrin immediately recognized the song’s potential, both within the album and as a stand-alone single, and begged the band to extend the song past its original run time of one minute and twenty seconds.
Waters, with his trademarked smugness, reportedly replied, “We don’t do singles, so fuck you.” Ezrin then went behind the band’s back, doubling the band’s recorded instrumental tracks and recruiting a school choir to sing the verse and chorus of the song. Ezrin was inspired by Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out,” which is also about children rebelling and also features children. When Waters heard what Ezrin had done to the track, his eyes lit up. It was only then that Waters and Ezrin together knew just how important the song would be.
Additionally, it was Ezrin that influenced the song’s readily apparent disco beat, telling guitarist David Gilmour to check out local dance clubs to see what was popular at the time. The song’s familiar rhythm is directly inspired by that unique rhythm, which sounds like nothing else in Floyd’s catalog. It also ties into the album’s overall message of rebellion and building walls, countered drastically by the famous line “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding, how can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat!” “You! Yes, you! behind the bikesheds, stand still laddie!”
In honor of the song’s anniversary, take a listen to it amid the great Pink Floyd album, The Wall, streaming below.