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Music / Roger Waters

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"Don't look so afraid, I'm only joking!"
The alien comic lied
The jackass and hyena took the feather from its hook
The monkey in the corner wrote the joke down in his book
Roger Waters, "What God Wants, Part I"

George Roger Waters note  (born 6 September 1943) is the former bassist, singer-songwriter and second leader (after Syd Barrett) of Pink Floyd. Waters left the band in 1985 (see more on the dedicated Pink Floyd page), but his solo career started earlier.

Though he (understandably) is most famous for his work with Pink Floyd, he has had respectable success as a solo artist. Waters has released four solo albums so far. Three of these, The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking, Radio K.A.O.S. and Amused To Death, are rock-oriented concept albums similar to the work he did with Pink Floyd, but Ça Ira, is an opera. After more than a decade, Waters returned with Is This the Life We Really Want?, an album which he had promoted through his Us and Them world tour. He is currently embarking on his This Is Not A Drill tour, which he has stated is his "first farewell tour".

In addition to his albums, Roger does a lot of touring, most notably his The Wall tour of 2011-2012, in which he played the entire Pink Floyd album. It remains the most successful tour of all-time by a solo artist, as well as one of the most expensive tours period. He also co-wrote the 1970 soundtrack album Music From The Body and significantly contributed both original songs and score to the 1986 film When The Wind Blows.

Post-Pink Floyd Discography:

Studio Discography:

Live Discography:

Soundtrack Discography:

Non-album singles:

  • 2004 - "To Kill The Child" / "Leaving Beirut" note 

This page has troped itself to death:

  • Ace Custom: Waters' signature modded black Fender Precision bass, his go-to for the past 45+ years.
  • Alternate Album Cover: The 2015 remastered version of Amused to Death had new cover art commissioned for its release, loosely recreating the 1992 cover but featuring a baby gazing at a flatscreen TV instead of a chimpanzee watching a CRT set.
  • Anaphora:
    • Parts I and II of "What God Wants" feature verses where almost every line starts with the phrase "God wants." Part III drops the pattern, but features a brief, second anaphora in verse two where four consecutive lines begin with "and the."
    • Each verse in "Picture That" features a chunk of lines that all start with the verb "picture." Verse three is made almost entirely out of these lines, with the sole exception of a Title Drop in the middle.
  • Armchair Military: "The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range".
  • Artist and the Band: He has played on tour with a backing band in The '80s as Roger Waters And The Bleeding Heart Band. They were credited on the soundtrack of the film adaptation of When the Wind Blows.
  • Author Filibuster: He likes to express his very left-wing political views, particularly on stage. During his 2018 tour, there was a whole 40 minute interlude (used to set up the complex stage based on Animals, as well as letting the musicians rest) projecting messages to "Resist" lots of controversial figures.
    • Taken up to eleven on Roger's 2022 in-the-round This Is Not A Drill tour. Roger begins the show with an opening disclaimer, projected on to the screens:
    Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats. The show is about to begin.
    Before it does, two public announcements:
    Firstly, out of consideration for your fellow patrons, please turn off your cell phones.
    And secondly, if you're one of those "I love Pink Floyd, but I can't stand Roger's politics" people
    You might do well to fuck off to the bar right now.
  • Book Ends: The Morse code beeping on either end of 1987's Radio K.A.O.S..
  • Boring, but Practical: Roger's bass style. He'll often just play simple one-or-two-note basslines, like on "Sheep", "Comfortably Numb", or "Careful With That Axe, Eugene".
  • Black Comedy: Occasionally. Jim the DJ giving the score of a baseball game immediately after announcing that everybody has five minutes left to live and Marv Albert narrating a war like a sporting event stand out.
  • Censor Box:
    • Columbia Records put one on the cover of Pros and Cons after feminist groups complained that the cover art, depicting a nude female hitch-hiker, played by model/softcore porn actress Linzi Drew, shown from the back, constituted an advertisement for rape.
    • The cover of Is This The Life We Really Want? is entirely made of these.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "Picture That":
    Picture a courthouse with no fucking laws
    Picture a cathouse with no fucking whores
    Picture a shithouse with no fucking drains
    Picture a leader with no fucking brains
  • Concept Album: All of them.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • "4.58 AM (Dunroamin, Duncarin, Dunlivin)" consists of the narrator describing how he did everything to make his marriage work (also see Determinator below) and it still fell apart. It ends with him declaring that he's going to throw up, leading right into the chords of "In The Flesh", the opening track from The Wall.
    • "The Bravery of Being Out of Range" includes the line "I looked over Jordan, and what did I see? Saw a US marine in a pile of debris," nodding back to the line "well, I've looked over Jordan, and what have I seen? Things are not what they seem" in "Sheep".
  • Cool Shades: Roger loves his Aviators.
  • Cyber Green: The album art for Radio K.A.O.S. depicts bright green Morse code and dot matrix typography against a solid green backdrop, tying in with the plot about a boy who can control technology by hearing and manipulating radio waves.
  • Cycle of Revenge: In "Perfect Sense, Part I", P.P. Arnold notes how "the Germans kill the Jews and the Jews kills the Arabs and the Arabs kill the hostages and that's the news," drawing a line of events from The Holocaust to the Arab–Israeli Conflict to the 1972 Munich Olympics kidnappings.
  • Darker and Edgier: Each of his successive solo albums is darker than the last, at least lyrically. In order, we have "guy dreams of cheating on his wife with a hitch-hiker," "disabled boy saves world from nuclear threat," "the media are evil. Do not trust anything they say," and "humanity gets what's coming to it because that's what we chose."
    • His solo albums as a whole are much darker (or at least much more blatant) than his work with Pink Floyd (with the possible exception of The Final Cut).
  • Determinator: Much of his Control Freak reputation as Pink Floyd's leader had much to do with his frustrations with motivating a distracted and writer's block-prone (though understandably aggrieved due to marital woes) Gilmour, Wright and Mason to write and contribute to the albums at a time when the band were under contract to CBS Records for a then unprecedented $1,000,000 dollars (five million by 2014 dollars) and had to produce more music. This situation got arguably more tense as band-members grew more outspoken of Waters' material, and more eager to win royalty points, writing credits and political pull within the band, but were contributing relatively little input for it (or taking longer and longer to do so). The Wall compounded this friction as it was at a time when their managers squandered their money and the band had to travel to Nice, France in tax exile to record new music, which had to be make-or-break for the group to be financially secure.
    • In-universe example: Billy from Radio KAOS could be considered one, overcoming his disability, the unfair incarceration of his brother and a move to Los Angeles with his Uncle Dave to successfully hack a radio station via radio waves and trick them into believing nuclear war was imminent, causing its listeners to re-evaluate their worldview and work towards a peaceful future.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The couple in 4.50am (Go Fishing) decide to live off-grid and get back to nature. Their new life out in the wilderness is pretty idyllic... right up until winter rolls in.
  • Disability Superpower: Billy in Radio K.A.O.S. is able to literally hear and manipulate radio waves and other electronic signals unaided as a result of having cerebral palsy.
  • Dream Within a Dream: The whole of The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Radio K.A.O.S. barely avoids turning the world into a radioactive wasteland, while Amused To Death ends with aliens finding the remains of the human race huddled around a TV set.
    This species has amused itself to death!
  • The Faceless: The Radio K.A.O.S. video EP depicts Billy hidden in the shadows of a darkened room, with his face being obscured as a result.
  • Fur and Loathing: Invoked in Pros And Cons Although Roger seemed to contradict this stance by protesting against anti-fox hunting legislation in the early 2000's, this was more due to encroachment of the government upon sportsmen than any real siding with the practice.
    "We adopted a fox cub, whose mother was somebody's coat".
  • Great Balls of Fire!: Unlike David Gilmour, Roger continued to bring all of Pink Floyd's stage extravaganza in his tours, such as the pig balloon, the light concert, and a huge screen to project videos. Hell, during his latest The Wall tour, the part of "In the Flesh?" with an air raid siren added a model airplane flying down to the stage!
  • Humans Are Bastards: A common theme in his albums, especially Amused To Death and Is This the Life We Really Want?.
    Every time the curtain falls on some forgotten life
    It is because we all stood by, silent and indifferent
    It's normal.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Billy in Radio K.A.O.S., a boy with cerebral palsy who inspires the world to come together peacefully through his Disability Superpower of controlling electronic signals.
  • Insufferable Genius: In the past, he could come across this way in interviews, especially in The '80s when he was suing the rest of Pink Floyd over the rights to the band's name. He's mellowed a bit after reconciling with the surviving members in The Oughts and The New '10s.
  • Large and in Charge: 6'3, to be precise.
  • Large Ham:
    • Especially on Pros and Cons, where he frequently launches into bombastic, histrionic borderline shrieking. He'd toned it down quite a bit by Amused to Death, but still had his moments, such as the last chorus of "Too Much Rope".
    • Though well-known for being reasonably low-key physically in the past, since returning to performing in 1999, he's been more and more extroverted from tour to tour (and the Pink Floyd Live 8 reunion), mouthing the lyrics off-mike while other singers take the lead, being much more animated with stage movements, facial expressions, gestures, and with his bass playing, etc. Clearly, he's much more directly engaging as a performer and seems to be having a lot more fun performing live than before.
  • Lead Bassist: He was one of the lead singers in Pink Floyd, how much more lead can you get. Averted with his actual bass playing, however. Waters preferred simple, to the point basslines, since he didn't really hold that much love for the instrument, being far more passionate with singing and songwriting.note 
  • Middle Name Basis: His first name is George but he has gone by Roger exclusively since the start of his career.
  • New Sound Album:
    • While Pros and Cons sounds very similar to The Wall or The Final Cut, Radio K.A.O.S., with its drum machines and synths, sounds much more like the product of the '80s that it is.
    • Amused To Death went back in tone to the concept records of Floyd and Pros & Cons, but also used QSound, a positional sound technique that was a precursor to bands creating 5.1 surround mixes in Dolby Digital or DTS.
  • Old British Money: "Perfect Sense" refers to "pounds, shillings and pence."
  • Perma-Stubble: This has been his look in the '10s.
  • Power Ballad: "Me or Him," "Every Stranger's Eyes", "Late Home Tonight," and "Watching TV."
  • Real Time: Pros and Cons. The first song is titled "4:30 AM (Apparently They Were Travelling Abroad)" and the last song is "5:11 AM (The Moment of Clarity)." While the events don't unfold this way, the album runs 42:07 and the time when each dream starts is in the title of each song.
  • Re-Cut: Waters and sound engineer James Guthrie created a new mix (and for the first time, a 5.1 surround mix) of Amused To Death, that was released in 2015. One of the changes was adding samples of HAL 9000, specifically, the protests ("... my mind is going") HAL makes as Bowman is disconnecting him — from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, which Waters had wanted to use originally, but had been denied permission to at the time by director Stanley Kubrick. The remaster additionally features a newly-recorded guitar part by Jeff Beck on "The Bravery of Being Out of Range".
    • Waters subsequently planted a snarky backwards message to Kubrick in the song "Perfect Sense - Part 1", which was then removed from the 2015 remix.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The red to David Gilmour's blue.
  • Running Time in the Title: "Four Minutes"
  • Sensory Abuse: During Pros and Cons, he seemed to have the bright idea that people wanted to hear him lick his chops right next to the bloody microphone. Made even WORSE if you wear high-end headphones.
  • Sexy Packaging: The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking depicts softcore pornography actress Linzi Drew posing nude with her back to the camera. After the cover drew controversy over whether or not it was sexist, Columbia Records reissued the album with a Censor Box printed on Drew's rear.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The music video for "5:01AM (The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, Part 10)" features clips from Shane.
    • His The Wall" tour contains images of dogs, pigs, and sheep, referencing the Pink Floyd album Animals. The animals are holding iPod's and have ear-buds in, referencing the Apple marketing campaign, with captions such as "iProtect" (for the dogs).
    • Some of his music references his work with Pink Floyd, most notably "What God Wants, Part III," which contains the "pings" from "Echoes," the synthesizer pad which opens "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," and the guitar glissando which opens "Breathe."
    • "4:33 AM (Running Shoes)" mentions someone as owning a "Fassbinder" face that "only a rather dull child could have drawn".
    • Amused To Death ends with another excerpt from the interview with a World War 1 veteran that opened the album, so the line isn't scripted but definitely included as a Shout-Out:
    Interviewer: When was it that you saw his name on the memorial?
    Alf Razzell: When I was 87, that would be the year nineteen... eightyfour. Nineteen Eighty-Four.
    *Album ends*
    • In the shouted section of the backwards message to Stanley Kubrick in Perfect Sense, Waters uses the angry Scottish headmaster voice he uses in The Wall.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Nearly any interview, and in lots of his songs as well.
  • Soprano and Gravel: The gravel to Paul Carrack on "Folded Flags" and "The Powers That Be", PP Arnold on "Perfect Sense (Part 1", and Don Henley "Watching TV"
    • Also capable of doing it with himself. Many songs feature him borderline speak-singing in a fairly low register before suddenly breaking into the high-pitched, nasal screams mentioned under Large Ham.
    • He's also been known, especially during The Final Cut and Pros And Cons, to layer a more conventionally sung vocal track with a screamed track in unison (as in the ending of "Southampton Dock").
  • Special Guest: Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck play guitar on Pros And Cons and Amused To Death respectively. Clapton also joined the Pros And Cons tour for awhile before quitting due to being fed up with Roger's Control Freak behaviour.
  • Spoken Word in Music: As with his work in Pink Floyd, he frequently includes both newly recorded dialogue (Marv Albert narrating a war like a sports event in "Perfect Sense") and samples of other works (like an interview with World War 1 veteran Alf Razzell in "The Ballad Of Bill Hubbard").
  • Surreal Music Video: The Title Track for The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking features one that adapts the entire album, front to back, in all the abstraction that accompanies its dream-driven storyline.
  • Take That!: A lot.
    • "What God Wants" towards organized religion and televangelists.
    • "The Bravery of Being Out of Range" towards high-ranking military officials and news channels treating war as entertainment.
    • "Towers of Faith" from the When the Wind Blows soundtrack has, alongside his usual religious and political TakeThats the line "this band is my band", directed at his ex-Pink Floyd band-mates.
    • "It's a Miracle" is in general a rant against Western consumerism... until the last verse takes a scathing shot at Andrew Lloyd Webber, whom Waters has accused of plagiarizing a riff from Pink Floyd's "Echoes" in sections of The Phantom of the Opera.
      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 theatre, but the operetta lingers
      Then the piano lid comes down and breaks his fucking fingers
      It's a miracle.
    • "Too Much Rope" contains one to The Wall producer Bob Ezrin, who also produced Pink Floyd's first Waters-less album:
      Each man has his price, Bob, and yours was pretty low.
    • "Perfect Sense" was originally supposed to include a sample of HAL's dying words from 2001: A Space Odyssey. When Stanley Kubrick said no, Roger included the following backwards message:
      Julia, however, in the light and visions of the issues of Stanley, we changed our minds. We have decided to include a backward message. Stanley, for you, and for all the other book burners... YOU'RE A FUCKING WASTE, ALRIGHT! YOU'RE A SACK OF SHIT, STANLEY!
      • Allegedly the snippet Waters was to use, which finally was included in the 2015 re-release, had HAL's "My mind's going, Dave" monologue, alluding to Pink Floyd's David Gilmour.
    • Roger lays a very searing one to George W. Bush in his 2004 anti-Second Iraq War track, "Leaving Beirut":
      Oh George! Oh George! That Texas education must have fucked you up when you were very small
    • Roger showed a humorous fictional radio commercial during his 1987 Radio K.A.O.S. tour advertising a "Professional Bimbo School", a reference to Fawn Hall, Oliver North's secretary during the Iran-Contra Affair of that same year.
    • "Do you remember the music, Yoko, or was it all in vain?"
    • "When We Where Young": The line "I'm still ugly, you're still fat" starts with Self-Deprecation, but ends with a dig towards someone. (Perhaps a certain feuding guitarist.)
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Roger Waters so very much.
  • You Wanna Get Sued?: Roger cut a verse from "The Tide Is Turning" over that very concern:note 
    "Now the past is over but you are not alone
    Together we'll fight Sylvester Stallone
    We will not be dragged down in his South China Sea
    Of macho bullshit and mediocrity"


Video Example(s):


Careful With That Axe, Eugene

This Pink Floyd song provides the Trope Namer, complete with Roger Waters' high-pitched scream.

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