The Happiest Days of Our Lives

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"The Happiest Days of Our Lives"
Song by Pink Floyd from the album The Wall
Published Pink Floyd Music Publishers Ltd
Released 30 November 1979 (UK)
8 December 1979 (US)
Recorded April–November, 1979
Genre Progressive rock, experimental rock, funk rock
Length 1:46
Label Harvest (UK)
Columbia (US)
Writer Waters
Producer Bob Ezrin, David Gilmour, James Guthrie and Roger Waters
The Wall track listing
Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd track listing

"The Happiest Days of Our Lives" is a song by Pink Floyd.[1] It appeared on The Wall album in 1979.[2]

Composition[edit]

The song is approximately 1 minute, 46 seconds in length, beginning with 24 seconds of a helicopter sound effect; followed by the schoolmaster shouting (in a helicopter) "You! Yes, you! Stand still, laddie!". Roger Waters's lead vocal is treated with a reverse echo. The lead instrument is the electric guitar with an added delay effect, playing roots (mostly D, G, and A over a melody in D minor). The bass and guitar figure heard during the verses, G to A, is similar to the one in "Waiting for the Worms", heard much later in the album. During the transition to "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II", the key shifts from D minor to the relative major, F major, with dramatic drum rolls and female harmony vocals.

On the album, "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" segues into "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II" with a loud, high-pitched scream by Roger Waters. Because of this segue, many radio stations play one right after the other, and subsequent Pink Floyd compilation albums (both Echoes and A Foot in the Door) use this song as the extended intro to Another Brick in the Wall.

In the film based on the album, the sound at the beginning of the song is depicted as coming from a train entering a large tunnel, rather than a helicopter heard on the album. According to Gerald Scarfe, there was supposed to be a puppet of the teacher at the end of the tunnel in the film. Alan Parker made shots of it, but it didn't work out, so they used Alex McAvoy, who played the schoolteacher, to do the scene instead. Before the cut in the middle for the Schoolmaster to mock Pink, somewhat quiet hysterical laughter is heard, extremely similar to the Schoolmaster's voice.

Plot[edit]

The Wall tells the story of Pink, an embittered and alienated rock star in retreat from society and personal relationships. "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" concerns Pink's youth, attending a school run by strict and often violent teachers who treat the pupils with contempt.

According to Waters, the lyrics were a reflection of his own negative experience in school. He described this in an interview with Tommy Vance of BBC Radio One.[3]

Film version[edit]

Pink and his two friends go down to a railway track to lay bullets on the rails and watch them explode under the passing train. Pink, putting himself up against the tunnel wall, sees that the train cars are packed with faceless people. He sees his teacher at the other end of the tunnel yelling at him to stand still. In the next scene, in Pink's school, the teacher discovers Pink writing a poem (which contains lyrics from "Money") and, as punishment, ridicules Pink by reading his poem out loud to the entire class then slaps his hand with a ruler. The following scene shows the Schoolmaster in his own home, being forced to eat a piece of tough meat during dinner at his wife's silent command. To relieve himself of his humiliation, the teacher spanks a child with a belt the next day.

Personnel[edit]

with:

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X. 
  2. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2004). The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate Books. p. 1177. ISBN 1-84195-551-5. 
  3. ^ Vance, Tommy (Late 1979). "The Wall — Song By Song — 1979". BBC Radio One. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 
  4. ^ Fitch, Vernon and Mahon, Richard, Comfortably Numb — A History of The Wall 1978–1981 (2006)
  5. ^ a b c d e Fitch, Vernon and Mahon, Richard, Comfortably Numb — A History of The Wall 1978–1981 (2006), p.74
  6. ^ Fitch, Vernon and Mahon, Richard, Comfortably Numb — A History of The Wall 1978–1981 (2006)