Roger Waters is a legendary musician who co-founded and led the progressive rock band Pink Floyd for more than a decade. He is also a successful solo artist who has released several albums and toured extensively. But what are some of his most famous songs, both with Pink Floyd and as a solo artist? Here are some of his best-known and most influential tracks, in no particular order.
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5 Best Songs by Roger Waters
Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)
This song is perhaps one of Roger Waters’ most iconic songs. Released in 1979 as part of Pink Floyd’s album “The Wall”, this track became an instant hit and a symbol of rebellion against oppressive education systems. The song features a catchy chorus sung by a children’s choir, a memorable guitar solo by David Gilmour, and a powerful message of resistance: “We don’t need no education / We don’t need no thought control / No dark sarcasm in the classroom / Teachers leave them kids alone / Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone! / All in all it’s just another brick in the wall / All in all you’re just another brick in the wall”.
Wish You Were Here
This song is not only a standout track from Pink Floyd’s album of the same name but also one of Waters’ most heartfelt compositions. The song is a tribute to Syd Barrett, the original leader and founder of Pink Floyd, who left the band due to mental health issues and drug abuse. The song expresses Waters’ feelings of nostalgia, regret, and longing for his old friend, as well as his disillusionment with the music industry: “So, so you think you can tell / Heaven from hell / Blue skies from pain / Can you tell a green field / From a cold steel rail? / A smile from a veil? / Do you think you can tell? / Did they get you to trade / Your heroes for ghosts? / Hot ashes for trees? / Hot air for a cool breeze? / Cold comfort for change? / Did you exchange / A walk on part in the war / For a lead role in a cage?”
This song is one of the highlights of “The Wall” album and one of the most popular Pink Floyd songs ever. The song depicts a conversation between Pink, the protagonist of the concept album, who is suffering from a mental breakdown, and a doctor who tries to revive him with drugs. The song features two contrasting sections: one with Waters’ vocals and lyrics that reflect Pink’s numbness and isolation, and another with Gilmour’s vocals and lyrics that describe the doctor’s attempts to bring him back to reality. The song also showcases one of Gilmour’s most celebrated guitar solos, which is widely regarded as one of the best solos of all time.
Shine On You Crazy Diamond
This song is another homage to Syd Barrett, who was Waters’ main inspiration and influence. The song is divided into nine parts that span two sides of Pink Floyd’s 1975 album “Wish You Were Here”. The song begins and ends with an atmospheric instrumental section that features synthesizers, saxophone, guitar, and keyboard. The middle parts feature Waters’ vocals and lyrics that praise Barrett’s genius and lament his decline: “Remember when you were young / You shone like the sun / Shine on you crazy diamond / Now there’s a look in your eyes / Like black holes in the sky / Shine on you crazy diamond / You were caught in the crossfire / Of childhood and stardom / Blown on the steel breeze / Come on you target for faraway laughter / Come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!”
-What God Wants, Part 1
This song is one of Waters’ most scathing critiques of organized religion and its role in war and violence. The song is part of his 1992 solo album “Amused to Death”, which explores the themes of media manipulation, consumerism, and human nature. The song features Jeff Beck on guitar, who provides a blistering riff that matches Waters’ angry vocals and lyrics: “What God wants God gets God help us all / What God wants God gets God help us all / God wants peace God wants war God wants famine God wants chain stores / What God wants God gets God help us all”.
These are just some of Roger Waters’ most famous songs, but there are many more that showcase his talent as a songwriter, singer, bassist, and producer. He is undoubtedly one of the most influential and respected figures in rock history, who has left an indelible mark on music and culture.