Musings on Is This The Life We Really Want?

All discussion related specifically to Roger Waters.
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Re: David Gilmour Yes I Have Ghosts

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ZiggyZipgun wrote: Wed Sep 02, 2020 1:04 am I would think not, but Roger hasn't written any in a long time, either.
I would disagree on both points. I think that Yes, II Have Ghosts is a good song that is not showcased well by the arrangement and DG's newly gruff voice. ITTLWRW is also a good album with good songs, in my opinion.
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Re: David Gilmour Yes I Have Ghosts

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Annoying Twit wrote: Wed Sep 02, 2020 7:41 amITTLWRW is also a good album with good songs, in my opinion.
My main beef with it is that melodically, it blatantly borrows from '70s Floyd - even the softer, "Wait For Her" etc., and like Pros and Cons, much of it is the same melody and chord progression, across the whole album. Then, the production shamelessly tries to recreate sounds from those classic Floyd albums - even sounds that were solely the work of Rick Wright. And last but not least, he has still abandoned his linear narrative, and a lot of the content will age more quickly if you-know-who loses the upcoming election. I do like "The Last Refugee", but as I've said, my wife immediately exercises her power of veto if I put the album on in the car. I find less and less to like with each listen - the opposite of any Floyd album, and nowhere near the caliber of Amused to Death.
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Re: David Gilmour Yes I Have Ghosts

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ZiggyZipgun wrote: Wed Sep 02, 2020 8:05 am
Annoying Twit wrote: Wed Sep 02, 2020 7:41 amITTLWRW is also a good album with good songs, in my opinion.
My main beef with it is that melodically, it blatantly borrows from '70s Floyd - even the softer, "Wait For Her" etc., and like Pros and Cons, much of it is the same melody and chord progression, across the whole album. Then, the production shamelessly tries to recreate sounds from those classic Floyd albums - even sounds that were solely the work of Rick Wright. And last but not least, he has still abandoned his linear narrative, and a lot of the content will age more quickly if you-know-who loses the upcoming election. I do like "The Last Refugee", but as I've said, my wife immediately exercises her power of veto if I put the album on in the car. I find less and less to like with each listen - the opposite of any Floyd album, and nowhere near the caliber of Amused to Death.
The differences were subtle, and as I've just posted elsewhere I think this album is Rog making his own cod Pink Floyd album. However, at this stage in his career when it's natural to look back over his glory days, I don't mind that at all. Sometimes I do find myself thinking that I wish artist X would give us just one more album like Y again. And, in this case, they did.
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Re: David Gilmour Yes I Have Ghosts

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Annoying Twit wrote: Wed Sep 02, 2020 9:28 amSometimes I do find myself thinking that I wish artist X would give us just one more album like Y again.
I'm pretty sure I've previously cited Brian Eno's stance on this, but I agree 100%:

I think the reason I feel uncomfortable about such a thing is that it becomes a sort of weight on my shoulders. I start to feel an obligation to live up to something, instead of just following my nose wherever it wants to go at the moment. Of course success has many nice payoffs, but one of the disadvantages is that you start to be made to feel responsible for other people's feelings: what I'm always hearing are variations of "why don't you do more records like - (insert any album title)" or "why don't you do more work with - (insert any artist's name)?". I don't know why, these questions are unanswerable, why is it so bloody important to you, leave me alone....these are a few of my responses. But the most important reason is "If I'd followed your advice in the first place I'd never have got anywhere".

I'm afraid to say that admirers can be a tremendous force for conservatism, for consolidation. Of course it's really wonderful to be acclaimed for things you've done - in fact it's the only serious reward, because it makes you think "it worked! I'm not isolated!" or something like that, and it makes you feel gratefully connected to your own culture. But on the other hand, there's a tremendously strong pressure to repeat yourself, to do more of that thing we all liked so much. I can't do that - I don't have the enthusiasm to push through projects that seem familiar to me ( - this isn't so much a question of artistic nobility or high ideals: I just get too bloody bored), but at the same time I do feel guilt for 'deserting my audience' by not doing the things they apparently wanted. I'd rather not feel this guilt, actually, so I avoid finding out about situations that could cause it.

The problem is that people nearly always prefer what I was doing a few years earlier - this has always been true. The other problem is that so, often, do I! Discovering things is clumsy and sporadic, and the results don't at first compare well with the glossy and lauded works of the past. You have to keep reminding yourself that they went through that as well, otherwise they become frighteningly accomplished. That's another problem with being made to think about your own past - you forget its genesis and start to feel useless awe towards your earlier self "How did I do it? Wherever did these ideas come from?". Now, the workaday everyday now, always looks relatively less glamorous than the rose-tinted then (except for those magic hours when your finger is right on the pulse, and those times only happen when you've abandoned the lifeline of your own history).

Annoying Twit wrote: Wed Sep 02, 2020 9:28 amAnd, in this case, they did.
And it sounds like it. It's certain not a product of Roger's own taste, it's a fight to stay relevant. Of the 12 tracks, there are really only 9 songs, and 4 of those are actually political. I actually prefer the others, since they feature some of Roger's most flowery poetry, which is a welcome departure in a different direction. And songs like "Picture That" and "Smell the Roses" suffer the problem of being easily taken the wrong way entirely, much like "In the Flesh" and "Run Like Hell", which have been favorites of neo-Nazi pieces of shit for years.
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Re: David Gilmour Yes I Have Ghosts

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I agree with what Brian Eno says, and I have read that before. Artists shouldn't

But, I think that was completely Rog's decision to make ITTLWRW in the style that it is. So, it's different from the Eno example in that he wasn't pushed into doing it - it was his choice.

So, in me wishing that artist X would sometimes make another album like Y, I would *never* say that to them. Or even too publicly. In the case of ITTLWRW, it just happened and I'm happy about it. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I don't feel that Rog has just caved into pressure from fans. Hence, I don't think the Eno quote really applies in this case. I do think this album, unlike Radio Waves, is a product of his own taste - what Rog. wanted to do right now.

I think it's more to do with Rog's age more than anything. Mid 70s is a time when people often look back over their lives. Which is what I think Rog has done. Musically. Dave's OAI is quite Floydian, and so is RtL (apart from the title track). I can't see why Rog shouldn't go all Floydian as well. And, I see no reason to believe it wasn't his own choice.

Even though I appreciate the political messages, I don't think that 4/9 tracks being political is an issue at all.

These quotes from Wikipedia are, I think, interesting.
Waters said of the album's themes:[6]

The concerns I have with that central question – "Why are we killing the children?" – are still there. I'm still deeply concerned that we're killing children all over the world with hardly a second thought because we've become so insensitive to the idea of every time the curtain falls on some forgotten life, it is because we stood by silent and indifferent – it's normal. I'm quoting from the record now. And unfortunately, it has become normal; we have normalized the death of the innocent.

Waters also said the album had been influenced by having fallen in love:[2]

The record is really about love – which is what all of my records have been about, in fact ... It's also the question of how do we take these moments of love – if we are granted any in our lives – and allow that love to shine on the rest of existence, on others.


He had things (note plural) to say, and he said them on the album.
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Re: David Gilmour Yes I Have Ghosts

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Shit - are we having the same debate on multiple threads? I apologize for that.
Annoying Twit wrote: Wed Sep 02, 2020 2:47 pm Musically. Dave's OAI is quite Floydian, and so is RtL (apart from the title track). I can't see why Rog shouldn't go all Floydian as well. And, I see no reason to believe it wasn't his own choice.
Well, Dave (and Rick as well) was responsible for those sounds on the earlier albums, while Roger pushed their sound into much more minimalist textures and tonalities. And going by the people Roger hired for this project - namely Nigel Godrich - it seems like a conscious effort to appeal to Pink Floyd fans...because Roger doesn't listen to the other stuff they've produced! He hadn't even heard Radiohead. Godrich deserves a lot of credit for telling Roger that most of his solo work is "unlistenable", but I don't know how he feels about this album after the fact. Everyone else was hired through Godrich, including Jonathan Wilson and (Beck's father) David Campbell, all of whom are big Pink Floyd fans. Gilmour, on the other hand, hires people that he's a fan of.

From Wikipedia:
Unlike most of Waters's work, Waters did not co-produce the record; he said: "[Godrich] did a brilliant job...I sat on my hands with lips zipped. You've rented this dog, let it work." Godrich used tape loops and found sounds extensively to make the album's segues. He is also credited for arrangement, sound collages, keyboards, guitar, and mixing.
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Musings on Is This The Life We Really Want?

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Some comments moving here shortly from other threads...
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Re: David Gilmour Yes I Have Ghosts

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This is the only interview with Nigel Godrich I could find where he talks about Is This the Life We Really Want?...and I had to Google Translate it from French.

Roger Waters, former founding member of Pink Floyd who released his first solo album at age 73 in 25 years, is a "completely underestimated" author, believes producer Nigel Godrich who worked on his latest album. Before he agreed to produce Roger Waters' first album in 25 years, Nigel Godrich had some hard words to say to the ex-Pink Floyd frontman. "I told him what I thought of some of his earlier (solo) stuff," said the studio wizard behind Radiohead, who has been dubbed the "sixth member" of the British band. Godrich didn't mince his words with his boyhood hero. "He made some records that were impenetrable. I can't listen to them -- I turned them off," he says. "I tried to explain that to him", continues the producer, looking back on his first meeting with his childhood idol Roger Waters, ex-bassist of Pink Floyd at the origin of the legendary album The Wall and author of the lyrics of Dark side of the Moon.

Far from taking offense, the ex-Pink Floyd recruited him: "He understood", assures Nigel Godrich, estimating that his last disc (Is This the Life We Really Want?), "reaffirms his stature as a great songwriter." The producer understood that Roger Waters "really always had it" when he listened to the demo of a new track, "Deja Vu", where he brought up a lot of topics, from old age to drone strikes. "Sometimes, when we were working together, he would quote me lyrics from his old album (Amused to Death)", "I said to him, "it's a shame that I couldn't hear that because I couldn't sit through the music to get the songs." Godrich, who worked with Waters for two years on the album's 12 tracks, said he was determined it would not fall into the same trap.

No long demonstrative guitar solos in this very politically engaged album, where sobriety was privileged to highlight "Roger Waters, the poet", he explains. "I think Roger had a hard time. He sure doesn't see it like that but me as a fan, I think he didn't find his rhythm after the end of Pink Floyd," said the producer. "It started to take off again with the tour The Wall tour and the film-concert that he made from it. He started writing again. When we met, he was brooding all this, my job was to encourage him, to push him a bit," says Godrich. "I never thought of Pink Floyd being Pink Floyd after Roger left. He was the guy who nailed things with his lyrics," Godrich added, judging that "Roger is completely underestimated."

In his new opus, where we find the sounds and the atmosphere that made the success of the British group, the former Pink Floyd takes part in his generation, the baby boomers, reproaching them for having passed from the idealism to cynicism. "We could have been free" but "we chose to adhere to abundance / we chose the American dream", he sings for example in "Broken Bones". In "Picture That", it is US President Donald Trump who takes it for his rank. The singer had already pinned him down during a concert in Mexico City last year by covering the Pink Floyd hit "Pigs (Three different ones)" with a video montage comparing Trump to Hitler. Waters is also reviving anti-militarist messages. "People are afraid to say that sort of thing because it could destroy their careers but Roger doesn't care," said Nigel Godrich. The British septuagenarian begins a North American tour this week, dubbed "Us + Them", a reference to a title of "Dark side of the moon", before tackling Europe and Asia next year.


In Roger's interview with Rolling Stone, they asked, "Did you like the records he has made with Radiohead?"
I don’t listen to other people’s records, so I haven’t heard any. I don’t like to be interrupted when I’m working.
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Re: Musings on Is This The Life We Really Want?

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An interesting interview with Roger about the process:

Roger Waters has a reputation for being someone who keeps a tight rein over every aspect of the recording process. But the singer, bassist, and former Pink Floyd member says he allowed producer Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Paul McCartney) a surprisingly free hand when overseeing his new album, Is This the Life We Really Want?, which arrives June 2.

I was used to being in control of everything and doing it all,” he tells EW. “I realized, watching Nigel work, that it wasn’t going to work if I was me. I was going to have to learn to be ‘Quiet Roger.’ So, I went, ‘All right, let’s try this.’ Which is difficult, but I’m glad I did, because he did a really, really good job. And he’s made a record that I couldn’t have made.

Recorded in part at the L.A. house of producer and singer-songwriter Jonathan Wilson, the result often sounds far more like the music Waters did make with Pink Floyd back in the ’70s than his previous solo output, like 1984’s The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking or 1992’s Amused to Death, his last collection of rock songs.

He has a fan’s deep attachment to the oeuvre,” Waters says of Godrich. “He’s enjoyed having the opportunity to do it himself, if you see what I mean. Because that’s what he’s done. That’s why the studio was full of two-inch tape in big fucking loops going round!

The album is full of these musically lovely ballads with rage-fueled lyrics. I’ve been describing it to people as a mixture of beauty and anger. Does that seem about right?
Sounds perfect, yeah. It’s about the transcendental nature of love and, I suppose, how it can transform anger into compassion.

What was the genesis of the project?
The genesis of the album was me writing [the song] “Déjà Vu,” which you only get a bit of. Godrich has edited the rest of the song out. Not because he disapproves of it, I don’t think, but because he’s completely focused on making this thing that is a gramophone record, which is very much in the tradition of what gramophone records used to be like, when you could only put 19 minutes on each side if you wanted it to sound any good. Although this is 54-minutes long, it’s that kind of a vibe, so you have to keep throwing bits away in order to make the shape of something that is that. And I don’t disapprove of that at all. I think he’s made a great record and I say he’s made a great record. I wrote it and sang on it but he’s made the record. So it started with me writing that song, and then it developed into a long meandering radio play with lots of other songs on it, which I played to him. He listened to this long rambling thing and went, “Hmmm, it’s really interesting, I don’t think it’s a gramophone record though.” And I went, “No, you’re probably right, it is a radio play, but do you want to make a record?” “Yeah.” So, he got involved.

Tell us about the single “Smell the Roses.”
That song is almost an afterthought. It’s Nigel going, “Oh fuck, you’ve written all these ballads, thank god we’ve done some jams. Could you please write some words to this thing?” “What thing?” “Oh, that thing in E.” “Do I have to?” “Yeah.” So I wrote that song four or five times and then eventually I said, “I’ve had this idea, which I think might work. What if Battersea Power Station is a munitions factory? And also it’s where we torture people? And it’s also this, and that, and the other, and we wrap everything up?” “Whatever, just write it!” So that’s it. It’s the image of this malevolent presence.

You recorded it mostly in L.A.?
Yeah.

What was that like?
Fine. We were in Ocean Way, which is like an ordinary studio. It’s perfectly nice, got good equipment. But then we moved to Jonathan Wilson’s house, where it’s ramshackle hippie-dom. Lots of good old analog steam synthesizers, and lots of guitars, and bits of this and that. Stained glass. You imagine any minute some woman’s going to walk in smelling of patchouli oil and last night’s sex.
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Re: Musings on Is This The Life We Really Want?

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So, all I'm trying to say is that while I was very enthusiastic about the album when it came out, I've liked it less and less each time I've heard it, and I had my suspicions about how it came about. I hadn't even read these two interviews until today, but they really confirmed those suspicions - that this was a very hands-off project for Roger, and that he left it up to other people that would make something that Pink Floyd fans would like.
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Re: Musings on Is This The Life We Really Want?

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"Bird in a Gale" reminds me a lot of "The Word Hurricane" by the French duo, Air - who are also big Floyd fans that have worked with Nigel Godrich. The entire soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides is fantastic.

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Re: Musings on Is This The Life We Really Want?

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The quotes are very interesting. Rog has been hands-off which must have been a considerable learning experience for him :)

But, he seems pleased by the result. He described it as the album he couldn't make himself. And, it's interesting to hear Roger taking direction from his producer - can you write some words for this thing.

I'm not sure that the above quotes and information conflict with or contradict anything I've said about the album. It certainly is a cod-Pink Floyd album, but I still think it's what Rog wanted to make. He could have taken control of the project at any time and fired Godrich at any time. He didn't, and I believe that is because Godrich was making an album that Rog wanted. Not pushed into it by fans or compromises with band-mates.

I think it's his best solo album. It's not his most innovative, but I don't expect innovation from artists in their 70s.

I'm not sure about Amused to Death being unlistenable though. It sounds to me to be Rog's first well produced album since The Wall.
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Re: Musings on Is This The Life We Really Want?

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Annoying Twit wrote: Wed Sep 02, 2020 7:39 pmAnd, it's interesting to hear Roger taking direction from his producer - can you write some words for this thing.
Parts of The Wall came about that way - Ezrin wrote his "script" for the album, and needed more songs to fill in the gaps in the storyline, like "Nobody Home". (He also told Ezrin, 'You can write anything you want. Just don't expect any credit." All of the music on ITTLWRW is credited to Roger.)

I hope he does get around to making the "radio play", since he said it would have a linear storyline that the album lacks. But if it's anything like Ca Ira or Igor Stravinsky's 'The Soldier's Tale' Narrated by Roger Waters, count me out. Also, what the christ is a "radio play"?
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Re: Musings on Is This The Life We Really Want?

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ZiggyZipgun wrote: Wed Sep 02, 2020 7:49 pmAlso, what the christ is a "radio play"?
I know I heard about this at the time, but never bothered to find it - so I'm doing so now! Very interesting that the author was originally approached to write this in 1973. Hopefully Roger can finish his in less than 40 years, but I still prefer proper concept albums.