Do I even have to introduce Roger Waters to my readers? Those born in the 1970s-80s all know the name “Pink Floyd” as one of, if not the THE, most talented group in the history of pop/rock music. As for our younger readers, they at least will have heard of albums like The Dark Side of the Moon or The Wall. Then there are the comparatively more recent releases by Roger Waters, like the opera Ca Ira or the hauntingly beautiful and deeply touching Amused to Death.
[Quick sidebar: Roger Waters has always been the real true genius behind both the Pink Floyd music and lyrics, this was true from the early Saucerful of Secrets (1968) to the (well named) Final Cut (1983). There has been a lot of controversy about that, it’s all water under the bridge now, but let me just say that I discovered Saucerful of Secrets when I was 11 (1974) and even at that young age I quickly figured out who the “hidden genius” (that is how I thought about Waters then) behind the band really was. I do have the utmost respect for the rest of the Pink Floyd band, they were also very talented, but Roger Waters stands, in my not so humble opinion, head and shoulders over the rest of the band. In fact, for me, Roger Waters *is* and always was, the “real Pink Floyd!]
The very first pop song I ever played on a guitar was “Brain Damage“. I was 12 then. Since, I have played pretty much every song Waters ever wrote. Later, I went into rock (Led Zep style) and, later, into acoustic Jazz guitar duos, but on my Walkman (remember those?), in my room and, later, in my car I always had a full Roger Waters discography. I still do, now on my smartphone :-)
Of course, Roger Waters is not only a truly immensely talented composer, his lyrics have also had a huge impact on me. I don’t want to discuss personal issues here, but let’s just say that Roger Waters put in words feelings I was harboring deep inside myself. As a kid, and later an adult, I always thought “no matter what, there is ONE GUY out there who not only “gets it” but also feels that which I feel, often very deep inside me: Roger Water’s music and lyrics touched me at my most vulnerable, desperate, frightened, filled with angst and doubt. The fact that both Roger and I lost our fathers very early on and were raised by our mothers probably greatly contributed to “tune” us to a same similar frequency, so to speak. The fact that we were born in a truly terminally insane world (including the Cold War) for sure did!
Last, but not least, I saw how Roger not only wrote about our world, but how he entered the fight against what he calls our “ruling classes” (he is right to use this category, this is certainly a class struggle) even taking on the most powerful and evil gang out there: the Apartheid state of “Israel”. Payback for Roger’s compassion for, and truthfulness about, the plight of the Palestinian people did not go unnoticed by the bad guys. One of these creeps even made a full feature length movie entitled “Wish You Weren’t Here – The Dark Side Of Roger Waters” (in Russian we have a good saying: “this tiny dog must be incredibly strong to dare to bark up this huge elephant!”).
And it is not just the Palestinians, or Julian Assange; any other person who needs protection or a voice to speak up for them – they will find such a voice in Waters. Anyone who has had a chance to hear his masterpiece “Amused to Death” or the “Ca Ira” opera will quickly figure out that Waters is not only an amazing music genius, but also a truly righteous man who followed his conscience when almost everybody sold out and left the battlefield. Bottom line, Waters truly had a huge impact on me, my life and my views. He was also a role model in so many ways.
[Special note for religious bigots: yes, I know, Waters is not religious. But may I suggest that he is not religious for all the RIGHT reasons – think of the kind of pseudo-Christianity he has been exposed to since his birth. Water’s secularism is nothing but a form of honesty which rejects all the hypocrisy so many bigots love to wrap themselves in! I would argue that there are *many* atheists for the right reasons out there just as there are deeply religious people for the wrong reasons out there too (and these atheists/agnostics also make the very best Orthodox converts, by the way, as they are truly seeking out the REAL truth!). So how about we don’t judge and, instead, praise the undeniable righteousness of any man who places the Truth, his conscience and his unwavering struggle, against all the evils of our world? As an Orthodox Christian, I feel very close and sympathetic to those idealists who reject religions because all they saw from these religions was disgusting, revolting and generally very much NOT Christ-like. After all, the concepts of love, beauty, truth are all paraphrases or metaphors for the word “God” which, alas, has become almost totally discredited in our post-Christian times! Rather than judging or condemning, let’s instead pray as our Lord taught us and humbly pray “for the peace of the whole world, for the good estate of the holy churches of God, and for the union of all, let us beseech the Lord.”]
I think that by now you all see the obvious: I love Roger Waters with all my heart. No point in hiding or denying it, as it is obvious anyway :-)
And, of course, meeting him one day has been a lifelong dream of mine. Then, in May, I got an email from a reader (let’s call him “J”) who mentioned to me that he has had contacts with Waters in the past. I immediately asked him to ask Roger if he would agree to a video interview. And then, one day, I got a very warm and kind reply from Waters saying “Hey Andrei, sure, I’ll do the interview. When and how? Love Roger!“.
The “when and how” took longer than expected, as Waters is truly in HUGE demand everywhere, did you see his reply to Mark Zuckerberg who wanted by purchase Waters’s song “Another Brick in the Wall II” for huge money? And the goal? To promote Instagram. You can see Roger’s “heartfelt” reply to Zuckerberg here. But, eventually, it did happen, and last Monday I had the huge honor, privilege and joy to speak with Roger. You could say that this was a dream of mine for 46(!) years, and it finally happened.
Needless to say, I was both blissful (hence my “cat with cream” grin during much this conversation) and very intimidated. While I spent most of my life not giving a damn about what others think, this time I cared, a lot. So I will also confess of being very intimidated by the man. If anything, his kind simplicity and compassionate understanding made him, if at all possible, even bigger in my eyes.
So, after this long intro (sorry but I had a lot to say, and could easily have turned that into into a 10’000 words article) here is the promised interview:
Since much of the interview talks about Roger Water’s “Lockdown Sessions” I want to conclude with the two I love most (so far).
The Gunner’s dream:
Two Suns in the Sunset:
This latest song is, in my interpretation, a truly beautiful lament for our poor planet. Anybody who has lived through the Cold War will easily “get it”.
And if we somehow manage not to blow ourselves and our planet up, then it will be at least in part thanks to true heroes like Roger Waters.
In the end, it depends on each one of us.
Love to all, especially to Roger!