Us and Them (song)

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"Us and Them"
Single by Pink Floyd
from the album The Dark Side of the Moon
A-side "Time"
Released 4 February 1974
Format 7" single
Recorded June 1972 - January 1973 at Abbey Road Studios
Genre Progressive rock, jazz rock
Length 3:15 (single edit)
7:51 (album version)
Label Harvest
Writer(s) Richard Wright, Roger Waters
Producer(s) Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd singles chronology
"Money"
(1973)
"Us and Them"/"Time"
(1974)
"Have a Cigar"
(1975)
The Dark Side of the Moon track listing

"Us and Them" is a song by English progressive rock band Pink Floyd on their 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon. The music was written by Richard Wright and lyrics by Roger Waters and it is sung by David Gilmour, with harmonies by Wright and Waters. The song is 7 minutes, 51 seconds in length, making it the longest on the album.

"Us and Them" was released as the second single from The Dark Side of the Moon in the US and "bubbled under" the Billboard Hot 100 at #101 for three weeks in March 1974.[1] The single peaked at #85 in the Canadian charts.[2]

Composition[edit]

Richard Wright wrote a song known as "The Violent Sequence" while the band was working for the score of Zabriskie Point. Then the song was reworked into "Us and Them". "The Violent Sequence" remained unreleased until it was included on a 2011 boxed set of "The Dark Side of the Moon", where it was named "Us and Them (Richard Wright Demo)".

"Us and Them" is rather quiet in tone and dynamics, with prominent jazz influence, although the choruses are louder than the verses. It has two saxophone solos in it, one at the beginning and another towards the end of the song. Richard Wright introduces the song with harmonies on his Hammond organ, and put a piano chordal backing and short piano solo afterwards on the arrangement. The tune was originally written on the piano by Wright for the film Zabriskie Point in 1969 and was titled "The Violent Sequence".[3] In its original demo form it was instrumental, featuring only piano and bass. Director Michelangelo Antonioni rejected it on the grounds that it was too unlike material such as "Careful with That Axe, Eugene", which was the style of music he wanted to use. As Roger Waters recalls it in impersonation, Antonioni's response was: "It's beautiful, but is it too sad, you know? It makes me think of church".[4] The song was shelved until The Dark Side of the Moon, where Waters put some lyrics to it.

The verses have a unique, jazz-influenced chord progression: Dsus2, D6add9 (or Esus2/D), D minor major 7 (or Faug/D), and G/D (the D in the bass is sustained as a pedal point throughout). The D6 with an added 9th is not unlike an Esus2 with a D in the bass, but because the bass line also provides the fifth, it is more accurately described as a kind of D chord. The D minor chord with a major seventh is a rarity in 1970s rock music. There is also an alternate sequence, played louder and with multiple harmonies, with a progression of B minor, A major, G major seventh suspended second (Gmaj7sus2), enharmonic to the slash chord D/G, and C major. This progression is played twice between each verse, and is not unlike a chorus, except that the lyrics are different with each repeat.[5]

In the middle, there is a break during which roadie Roger "The Hat" Manifold speaks (during the recording of the album a number of interviews were laid down, including with Paul and Linda McCartney who were recording in the same studio).

It was also re-released on the 2001 best of album, Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd, where it is the seventh track of the second disc. The ending of the song was edited in this version, with the vocals from the last measure treated with heavy delay, and the music track muted entirely, to avoid the seamless transition to "Any Colour You Like" that occurs on The Dark Side of the Moon.[6]

Spoken parts[edit]

The following quotation takes place before the second saxophone solo (it is one of two spoken parts by the then band roadie Roger "The Hat" Manifold):

Well I mean, they're gonna kill ya, so like, if you give 'em a quick sh...short, sharp shock, they don't do it again. Dig it? I mean he got off light, 'cause I coulda given 'im a thrashin' but I only hit him once. It's only the difference between right and wrong innit? I mean good manners don't cost nothing do they, eh?[7]

Alternative and live versions[edit]

  • The instrumental "Violent Sequence" was performed on a handful of occasions in early 1970. These performances were much the same as the Zabriskie Point demo, with some added percussion from Nick Mason. On at least two occasions, the song was paired with another piece from the Zabriskie sessions, "Heartbeat, Pigmeat".[8]
  • In early 1972 performances, a short audio clip of a man groaning in tortuous pain would be played at the beginning of the song, immediately highlighting the song's theme of violence. The song did not include any saxophone and the lead vocals were performed by Waters and Wright, with David Gilmour providing backing vocals.
  • It was occasionally featured as an encore during the band's 1977 "In the Flesh" tour (this was performed at most shows on the band's 1977 US tours during the encore). It was often used to intentionally calm the often rowdy stadium audiences.
  • P·U·L·S·E and the second disc and video of Delicate Sound of Thunder feature this track. Both versions are shorter than the original studio recording, and the latter features a slightly altered saxophone solo.
  • On Echoes, the song has a different ending: instead of segueing into what would be the next track on The Dark Side of the Moon ("Any Colour You Like"), engineer and Floyd collaborator James Guthrie gave the song a cold ending, before adding a backwards piano note that would lead into the collection's next track, "Learning to Fly".
  • Waters included the song in his 2006–08 The Dark Side of the Moon Live tour, with Jon Carin replacing Gilmour on lead vocals.
  • Waters performed the song during his set during the live TV Benefit concert "12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief". (2012)

Cover versions[edit]

Personnel[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel. Bubbling Under Singles & Albums (1998): 158
  2. ^ Library and Archives Canada: Top Singles Volume 21, No. 5, March 16, 1974, March 16, 1974, retrieved 12 July 2014 
  3. ^ Andy Mabbett (July 1995), "Us and Them", The complete guide to the music of Pink Floyd, ISBN 978-0-7119-4301-8 
  4. ^ "The Making of The Dark Side of the Moon" Pt. 5 (Us and Them)
  5. ^ Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon 1973 Pink Floyd Music Publishers Ltd., London, England, ISBN 0-7119-1028-6 (USA ISBN 0-8256-1078-8)
  6. ^ "Echoes: the album credits". Pink Floyd. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  7. ^ Longfellow, Matthew. "Pink Floyd: The Making of Dark Side of the Moon (1997)", documentary film
  8. ^ Hodges, Nick and Priston, Ian Embryo: A Pink Floyd Chronology 1966–1971. Cherry Red Books, 1999

External links[edit]