Roger Waters’ UN Speech, Like Meddle, Best Experienced on Acid - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Roger Waters’ UN Speech, Like Meddle, Best Experienced on Acid
Roger Waters (Skavlan/YouTube)

“I’d like to be home with my monkey and my dog,” a woman, following a cacophony of voices commenting on fish, repeats immediately prior to the standout track on Roger Waters’s 1987 album Radio K.A.O.S.

“I don’t care,” disc jockey Alan Ladd interrupts. “Shut up! Play the record.”

When he finally does, a glorious sound silences all the bizarre nonsense talk. “Home,” the best number of Waters’s post–Pink Floyd career, combines dated, very-’80s period instrumentation, the great Clare Torry of “Great Gig in the Sky” fame providing a Floyd feel, and the lyricist’s characteristic way of lulling listeners with hypnotic verbal and sonic patterns before snapping everyone out of it with a jarring “When the cowboys and Arabs draw down at noon in the cool dusty air of the city boardroom” climax.

The song, and especially the exchange that preceded it, came to mind Wednesday when the former bassist and chief lyricist of Pink Floyd delivered via a video link an address to the United Nations Security Council at the invitation of the Russian Federation. It exuded a very “sole has no eyes” quality — “I’d like to be home with my monkey and my dog” even. Unfortunately, Jim Ladd never interjected and dropped the needle on a record.

Waters, the child of Communists who never quite rebelled against household dogma the way most children do, perhaps cannot shake an inherited impulse to defend Mother Russia. Talking to the assembled diplomats at home with his dog (but not his monkey), he recycled the pox-upon-both-your-houses equivocation popular among defenders of the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

“The invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation was illegal,” Waters conceded Wednesday. “I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. Also, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was not unprovoked, so I also condemn the provocateurs in the strongest possible terms.”

I don’t care. Shut up! Play the record.

The remarks follow an interview last week with Berliner Zeitung in which Waters, when asked if he believed Israel possessed a right to exist, answered: “Israel has a right to exist as long as it is a true democracy.” He then proceeded to explain why Israel does not meet his “true democracy” threshold. When asked if he stood by his comparison of Israel with Nazi Germany, he responded: “Yes, of course. The Israelis are committing genocide.”

I don’t care. Shut up! Play the record.

Presumably the lunacy from the interview, possibly word of his appearance at Russia’s request before the UN, and perhaps just encountering, even if secondhand, his reputationally difficult personality pushed Polly Samson, a fellow author of (worse) Pink Floyd lyrics and wife of guitarist David Gilmour, to tweet: “Sadly @rogerwaters you are antisemitic to your rotten core. Also a Putin apologist and a lying, thieving, hypocritical, tax-avoiding, lip-synching, misogynistic, sick-with-envy, megalomaniac. Enough of your nonsense.” David Gilmour responded to his wife’s tell-us-how-you-really-feel post: “Every word demonstrably true.”

I don’t care. Shut up! Play the record.

The world contains a scarcity of great music and an abundance of cheap opinions. Despite a proven ability to contribute the former, Waters now fixates on the latter. As his lyrical obsession shifted from madness to the killed-in-action father he never knew to politics, the man’s diminishing output of songs became increasingly difficult to differentiate from his punditry. In the last 31 years, Waters boasts the release of a single album of (very good if drenched in politics) new rock music. In those same three decades, he has offered public commentary, much of it unenlightened, on the Iraq War, the Citizens United case, the mental health of Donald Trump, Black Lives Matter, and much else beyond.

I don’t care. Shut up! Play the record.

Daniel J. Flynn
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Daniel J. Flynn, a senior editor of The American Spectator, is the author of Cult City: Harvey Milk, Jim Jones, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco (ISI Books, 2018), The War on Football (Regnery, 2013), Blue Collar Intellectuals (ISI Books, 2011), A Conservative History of the American Left (Crown Forum, 2008), Intellectual Morons (Crown Forum, 2004), and Why the Left Hates America (Prima Forum, 2002). His articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, New York Post, City Journal, National Review, and his own website,   
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