Amused To Death

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Amused To Death is Roger Waters' fifth studio album since leaving Pink Floyd. It was recorded between the years of 1988 and 1992. Like most other Waters works, it is a concept album.

Contents

Background

The album was inspired by the Neil Postman book Amusing Ourselves To Death. The album explores how people come to watch a lot of TV and are sucked into the mass media. It goes on to criticize the First Gulf War ("The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range" and "Perfect Sense"). It also talks about the protests for democracy in China in Tienanmen Square ("Watching TV").

Track Listing

  1. The Ballard Of Bill Hubbard (4:20)
  2. What God Wants, Part I (6:00)
  3. Perfect Sense, Part I (4:16)
  4. Perfect Sense, Part II (2:50)
  5. The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range (4:43)
  6. Late Home Tonight, Part I (4:00)
  7. Late Home Tonight, Part II (2:13)
  8. Too Much Rope (5:47)
  9. What God Wants, Part II (3:41)
  10. What God Wants, Part III (4:08)
  11. Watching TV (6:07)
  12. Three Wishes (6:50)
  13. It's A Miracle (8:30)
  14. Amused To Death (9:06)


Total Time-72:45

BBC 1

The BBC would not air the first single of the album, "What God Wants, Part I", because of its "touchy" lyrics. Waters was outraged.

Track Breakdown

The Ballard Of Bill Hubbard

This is a slower paced song on the album. This is the first song on the album, coming before "What God Wants, Part I". This song is about a man who, during war, had to leave a man who he liked very much in no man's land. It was one of the most horrifying experiences in this man's life. This is trying to show that war is not just in the past, but it leaves scars that stay forever.

What God Wants

What God Wants criticizes the church for being a hypocrisy. It is split up into three parts, making the total time of the song to be 13 minutes and 48 seconds.

"What God Wants, Part I"

This part of the song appears second on the album, after "The Ballard Of Bill Hubbard" and before "Perfect Sense, Part I". This part tells us that the media has an effect on the person to the extent that the media chooses what happens, even if that person does not agree. Roger Waters said about the first Gulf conflict, "I'm very upset by religious dogma, I get angry, gobsmacked in fact when I hear George Bush saying that God was on their side during the Gulf war. It's amazing that in 1992, one of the most powerful men in the world can reduce political rhetoric to that level. But that's what he has to do, to get votes and maintain power and then use that power to help the American automobile industry." This song says that we as human beings do not care about that and just live with it.

"What God Wants, Part II"

This part of the song is the ninth song on the album, after "Too Much Rope" and before "What God Wants, Part III". This part, much like the first part, tells us that although God wants good, God also wants bad in the world. The song begins by hearing an evangelical priest preaching on television. The priest says the following:

"Do you believe in a better day
Do you have faith in a golden way
If you do then we must come together this day
Come together as one united
Television audience
Brought together by the sound of my voice
United united financially united socially
United spiritually and all possible ways
Through the power of money
And the power of prayers"

The priest not only replaces the word church with "Television audience", but also replaces the word God with "Money" thereby suggesting that God is money. This shows that the priest is twisting the word of God to simply fit his own need. Then, the song says that although "God don't want small potatoes", God also wants to associate It self with small towns that are filled with right-winged conservatives. The end of the song states that God wants for people not to find out what is really going on.

"What God Wants, Part III"

This is the final part of "What God Wants". It is the tenth song on the album, after "What God Wants, Part II" and before "Watching TV". This song has hope that someday, we (the human race) will be able to escape the influence of the media. It says towards the being of the song,
"And in banks across the world
Christians Moslems Hindus Jews
And people of every
Race creed color tint or hue
Get down on their knees and pray".

Although the media is pumping out propaganda, the line, "But the monkey's not watching" seems to say that humans can, hopefully, be able to overcome the influence of the mass media.

The Big Picture

In all three tracks, the Alien profit tells the monkey "Don't be surprised", like it was obvious. In a few instances, the animal does what he is told to do. However, the last time, the monkey simply writes down what is being said, not absorbing it.

Perfect Sense

Perfect Sense is split up into two parts. When put together, the total length of the track is 7 minutes and 6 seconds.

Perfect Sense, Part One

"Perfect Sense, Part One" is the third track on the album. It is preceded by "What God Wants, Part One" and is followed by "Perfect Sense, Part Two". It is 4 minutes and 16 seconds. It is about holy wars. In the first part, it says "Memory's a stranger/History's for fools", which probably is talking about the Crusades and relating it to George Bush Sr. going into the Persian Gulf. In the Crusades, the Pope told people that God was on their side to take over the Holy Land. However, they lost the Crusades. This is a comment that Roger Waters made regarding something Bush Sr. said:

"I'm very upset by religious dogma, I get angry, gob smacked in fact when I hear George Bush saying that God was on their side during the Gulf war. It's amazing that in 1992, one of the most powerful men in the world can reduce political rhetoric to that level. But that's what he has to do, to get votes and maintain power and then use that power to help the American automobile industry."

Then, after the kid says "Mama Mama, the President's a fool", a line which indicates that he thinks that Bush was out of his mind when he said that comment. Then, after that, the people of power (Wall Street, Joint Chiefs of Staff, et cetera) all say that the kid is insane for thinking that ("Don't make us laugh, you're a smart kid"). The song ends with them giving "him command of a nuclear submarine/Sent him back in search of the Garden of Eden", suggesting that the Persian Gulf War was fought simply for religious reasons.

Perfect Sense, Part Two

"Perfect Sense, Part Two" is the fourth track on the album. It comes after "Perfect Sense, Part One" and before "The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range". It is 2 minutes and 51 seconds. It is about how it would make perfect sense to attack because there would be money in the picture, as stated by the chorus of the song:

"Can't you see
It all makes perfect sense
Expressed in dollars and cents,
Pounds, schillings, and pence
Can't you see
It all makes perfect sense"

Also, you can hear the audio of what sounds to be a soccer game, but what is in fact talking about blowing up an oil rig. The fact that it is announced like a game suggests that people in power do not care that people die in war, and therefore, they think of war as simply a game.

The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range

This is the fifth song on the album, coming after "Perfect Sense, Part II" and before "Late Home Tonight, Part I". The first verse of the song talks about the leaders of the countries loving wars, although they seem like they do not ("You wear the right masks") and about how they love wars ("A comfort a friend/Only upstaged in the end/By the Uzi machine gun/Does the recoil remind you/Remind you of sex"). The song's chorus states, "Old man what the hell you gonna kill next/Old timer who you gonna kill next", showing that they just kill for no reason.

The next verse talks about how the troops are sick of what they are seeing and find it sickening (Sick of the mess they find/On their desert stage"). It also talks about how we are out of range and how for being the leader, you seem like you do something, but you simply are loving life while they are dying for us ("Saw a U.S. Marine in a pile of debris/I swam in your pools/And lay under your palm trees").

The third, and final verse talks about how we simply talk about it like it is entertainment ("Just love those laser guided bombs/They're really great/For righting wrongs/You hit the target/And win the game/From bars 3,000 miles away").

Late Home Tonight

This is the sixth and seventh song on the album. Altogether, the track is 6 minutes and 12 seconds long.

Late Home Tonight, Part I

This comes after the song "The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range" and before "Late Home Tonight, Part II". This song talks about how you could be a military hero in this country, but nobody will care about the person that you killed on the opposite side. For instance, it says "The phantom in the hedgerow dip its wings", which refers to the person that he killed that was involved with the solder becoming a hero. Also, it says "The beauty of military life/No questions only orders and flight only flight" meaning that you don't think about if it is wrong to fight, just about impressing your commander. The lines, "When knives pierce autumn leaves/But that's okay see the children bleed/It'll look great on the TV" refers to how television stations only think about ratings and they put on pro-violence propaganda.

Late Home Tonight, Part II

This song come after "Late Home Tonight, Part I" and before "Too Much Rope". This track is about how you are a celebrated hero in America after you have just blown something up, thereby killing many people ("New boy you're a hero take this cigar"). However, it also says that there were Americans that were killed in the exact same why as the person killed the people America was at war with ("Our American friends are late home tonight").

Too Much Rope

This is the eight track on the album. It comes after "Late Home Tonight, Part II" and before "What God Wants, Part II". This song talks about how we give too much credit to certain speeches, and how people cannot think for themselves anymore ("They significantly edge/Closer to the gold/Each man has his price Bob/And yours was pretty low"). The song's chorus states, "Give any one species too much rope/And they'll f*** it up", which means that if you really care about the speech, even if it is trying to do good, you end up messing it up in some way. The song goes on to talk about how the things that we consider moving are not really moving, yet we find them moving because we bearly see things of compassion ("Tears burn my eyes/What does it mean/This tear jerking scene/Beamed into my home/That it moves me so much/Why all the fuss/It's only two humans being/It's only two humans being").

Watching TV

This song is the tenth song on the album. It comes after "What God Wants, Part III" and before "Three Wishes". This song is about the shooting in Tiananmen Square in which a college student was killed. The song is written with a sympathetic point of view towards the girl who was shot ("Lost my baby there"). It describes her as being a pastry chef who was the perfect woman. The song talks about how, because she was shot on TV, people were much more sensitive towards it. It goes on to state that she is different than other people that die because she died on TV ("And she is different from Cro-Magnon man/She's different from Anne Boleyn/She is different from the Rosenbergs/And from the unknown Jew/She is different from the unknown Nicaraguan/Half superstar half victim/She's a victor star conceptually new/And she is different from the Dodo/And from the Kankanbono/She is different from the Aztec/And from the Cherokee/She's everybody's sister/She's symbolic of our failure/She's the one in fifty million/Who can help us to be free/Because she died on TV").

Three Wishes

This is the eleventh song on the album. It comes after "Watching TV" and before "It's A Miracle". This song is about how we are never satisfied with things, and how we want so many things that we cannot ever remember the people that are really important. The words that are stated at the beginning are, "At first I wanted to buy a big one, but then, I hadn't got enough money so I had to buy a smaller one. And if I think, I bought the bigger one, then, it would've been the way I wanted it." This means that we are quick to judge what we want. The person later goes on to say that she is satisfied with the smaller one. However, in the song, a genie appears and says that he has three wishes, spending it on:

  1. "I wish they were all happy in the Lebanon"
  2. "Wish somebody'd help me write this song"
  3. "I wish when I was young/My old man had not been gone"

However, as can be seen from the song's chorus, there was another thing that he overlooked. It would've been for love, but he cannot because he has used up his three wishes. The chorus goes like this:

"There's something in the air
And you don't know what it is
You see someone through the window
Who you've just learned to miss
And the road leads on to glory but
You've used up your last wish
Your last wish
And you want her to come home"

It's A Miracle

This song is about how, under pressure, countries have stopped fighting because they want to keep up trade deals. Also, it tells about how some people chose to help people out instead of simply leaving them ("A doctor in Manhattan/Saved a dying man for free"). The song says, "By the grace of God Almighty/And the pressures of the marketplace/The human race has civilized itself", the line "By the grace of God Almighty" signifying that it hardly happens anymore that it is something, almost divine. It also has some lines about how Rogers strongly disliked Andrew Loydd Webber. Webber stole a thing from the Pink Floyd song Echos. Webber supposedly stole a part of the song and put it into one of his operas. On the matter, Waters stated,


Yeah, the beginning of that bloody Phantom song is from Echoes. *DAAAA-da-da-da-da-da* [sic]. I couldn't believe it when I heard it. It's the same time signature - it's 12/8 - and it's the same structure and it's the same notes and it's the same everything. B******. It probably is actionable. It really is! But I think that life's too long to bother with suing Andrew f***ing Lloyd Webber.[1]

So, Rogers wrote the following lines into the song,

"We cower in our shelters
With our hands over our ears
Lloyd-Webber's awful stuff
Runs for years and years and years
An earthquake hits the theater
But the operetta lingers
Then the piano lid comes down
And breaks his f***ing fingers
It's a miracle"

Amused To Death

This song is the last song on the album, coming after "It's A Miracle". In this song, there are people asking doctors why they are sick. It also asks why is TV so important, and why we keep it so high in our lives ("What is the heart life of a colour TV/What is the shelf life of a teenage queen"). It also says that we are becoming more emotionless as time goes on ("Attracted by the peeling away of feeling"). Then, it goes on to having aliens coming down to earth and finding Earth completely dead. The aliens are confused and conduct many tests, which is futile at figuring out any information. (They ran down every lead/They repeated every test/They checked out all the data on their lists/And then the alien anthropologists/Admitted they were still perplexed".) It then says that the only reason is that, "This species has amused itself to death", referring to humans being stuck to the TV and other media.

Charts

  1. "Amused To Death"-UK, 8th Place (1992)
  2. "Amused To Death"-Billboard (North America), 21st Place (Billboard 200)
  3. "What God Wants, Part I"-Billboard (North America), 2nd Place (Billboard Mainstream Rock)

Singles

  1. Side A-What God Wants, Part I Side B-Three Wishes
  2. Side A-What God Wants, Part I Side B-What God Wants, Part III

External links

Please note, some of the links contain language not suitable for young children.


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