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The Trial

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Song Name: The Trial

Artist: Pink Floyd

Album: The Wall (Disc Two), Shine On

Run Time: 5:13

Year: 1979

Track Number: 25

Sung By: Roger Waters

Written By: Roger Waters, Bob Ezrin

Info:

Pink Floyd- The Trial06:14

Pink Floyd- The Trial

  • The song centers on the main character, Pink, who having lived a life filled with emotional and (later) substance abuses has reached a critical psychological break. "The Trial" is the fulcrum on which Pink's mental state balances. Through the course of the song, he is confronted by the primary influences of his life (that have been introduced over the course of the album): the rigidly strict and abusive Schoolmaster, Pink's emotionally distant, adulterous Wife, and his smothering, overprotective Mother. Pink's subconscious struggle for sanity is overseen by a new character, "The Judge" ("Worm, your Honor") (the characters are all worms who have eaten into Pink's brain, first noted in "Hey You"). A Prosecutor conducts the early portions, which consist of the antagonists explaining their actions, intercut with Pink's refrain, "Crazy; / Toys in the attic I am crazy". The culmination of the trial is the Judge's sentence for Pink "to be exposed before [his] peers" whereupon he orders Pink to "tear down the Wall!" At one point in the song Pink sings " There must have been a door in the wall, when I came in" representing that he is confused by his revelations, and trying to find a way out of the wall and away from his mental tormentors, the animated "antagonists," through a door in his wall that does not exist.
  • This and the following song "Outside The Wall" are the only two songs on the album which the story is seen from an outsider's point of view, most notably through the four antagonists of the trial, even though it's all in Pink's mind. The film creates an interesting effect by showing the three characters making it past the wall, symbolically invading Pink's mind, and telling him their half of the story:
  • The Schoolmaster is brought down like a puppet on strings by his overbearing wife, referencing "The Happiest Days Of Our Lives".
  • The Wife comes out from underneath the wall, represented as a scorpion, which is done during "Don't Leave Me Now".
  • The Mother comes from above in an abstract, morphing image of an airplane, which then encircles Pink.
  • Hearing what mother, schoolmaster, and wife have to say about Pink's state makes many of the reasons for building his wall seem absurd. This is really represented in the wife's speech:
    • "...You should have talked to me more often than you did, but no, you had to go your own way..."
  • This further emphasises the fact that Pink is the true guilty one, leading to the Judge's response to the trial "...the way you made them suffer, your exquisite wife and mother..." and his sentencing "...since, my friend, you have revealed your deepest fears, I sentence you to be exposed before your peers..."
  • It is not clear as to what the tearing down of Pink's wall entails, but there is a clue in the song The Final Cut from the album of the same name. The lyrics, "...Dial the combination, open the priesthole. And if I'm in I'll tell you what's behind the wall." The portion where Waters sings "behind the wall" is overdubbed by a shotgun shooting, suggesting that Pink eventually tore down his wall by killing himself.
  • The segment in the film version is a full-length animated sequence of vivid color and unusual visuals. Political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe directed the design for the segment. The film segment relies not only on visuals, but also on the themes, music, and lyrics of the original song. The three principle antagonists have pronounced cartoon forms and are known individually by their role. "The Schoolmaster" (remembered from "The Happiest Days Of Our Lives") is portrayed as a marionette and is controlled by his overbearing wife. "The Mother" is portrayed as overprotective, and "The Wife" is portrayed as a scorpion-like creature. The Judge is a fourth featured caricature used in the segment and is portrayed as a giant anus wearing a judge's wig. The Prosecutor is a caricature of the stereotypical 18th century attorney.
  • The animated sequence was used in the 1980/81 concert versions of The Wall with Roger Waters singing the song in front of The Wall as The Trial's animation played behind him on the wall.
  • The track is noted for its distinctive voice work by Roger Waters, as well as its grandiose musical style, which is more akin to a Broadway musical than a rock song, as it is fully orchestrated, without any semblance to a rock song, until David Gilmour's guitar starts up at the verdict, to the main melody of Another Brick in the Wall (although the orchestra can be heard in the background, and the singing style remains the same). The song is notably interesting for being written in the style of the theatrical songs by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill.
  • Many Pink Floyd fans debate the significance of The Trial. One theory is that Pink puts himself on trial for the abuse he’s inflicted on others, which was a result of his lapse from sanity. Another theory is that the trial was not self-inflicted, but was mainly a metaphor for the fear and emotional abuse that had been inflicted upon him in his life. The song mentions that he was being put on trial for showing "feelings of an almost human nature," probably indicating that the trial was set up as a sort of self-protecting rationale, but in which he realizes everything was really his fault. It has since been confirmed by Roger Waters that Pink puts himself on trial.
  • The song ends with the sound of a wall being demolished amidst chants of "Tear down the wall!", marking the destruction of Pink's metaphorical wall.
  • "The Trial" was the first Pink Floyd composition since the "Atom Heart Mother Suite" which was credited as being co-written by someone outside the band.
  • Following the line, "...the way you made them suffer, your exquisite wife and mother, fills me with the urge to defecate," a voice, similar to the schoolmaster's, can be heard shouting, "Go on, judge, shit on him."


  Credits  |  Chronology  

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