Waiting for the Worms
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|"Waiting for the Worms"|
|Song by Pink Floyd from the album The Wall|
|Published||Pink Floyd Music Publishers Ltd|
|Released||30 November 1979 (UK)
8 December 1979 (US)
|Genre||Progressive rock, art rock, hard rock, heavy metal, Rock Against Communism|
|Producer||Bob Ezrin, David Gilmour, James Guthrie and Roger Waters|
|The Wall track listing|
Composition and plot
At this point in the concept album, protagonist Pink has lost hope ("You cannot reach me now") and his thinking has decayed, bringing to mind the "worms". In his hallucination, he is a fascist dictator, fomenting racist outrage and violence, as begun in the preceding song, "Run Like Hell". The count-in is Eins, zwei, drei, Alle — German for "one, two, three, everybody". In the beginning and end the crowd chants "Hammer", a recurring representation of fascism and violence in The Wall.
The song is a slow, leaden march in G Major, begun with David Gilmour and Roger Waters alternating calm and strident voices, respectively. Waters takes over with an extended vamp on A minor, musically similar to the album's earlier "The Happiest Days of Our Lives". Through a megaphone, he barks strident, racist invective ("Waiting to put on a black shirt . . . for the queers and the coons and the reds and the jews"). After an extended rant, Gilmour's calmer voice returns, chuckling warmly with the promise that his followers will "see Britannia rule again" and "send our coloured cousins home again," with Waters concluding "All you have to do is follow the worms!"
Finally, the song plunges into an minor-key musical theme -- root, major second, minor third, major second—that has recurred throughout the album, as the main theme to "Another Brick in the Wall", the instrumental section of "Hey You", and will be heard in the album's climax, "The Trial". The riff is repeated in E minor, with E minor and D Major chords played atop it on keyboards. From the megaphone, Waters's bigoted rant lapses into incomprehensibility, while the music and the crowd's chanting grows louder. Finally, the song abruptly halts with a shout of "Stop!" (which segues into the next song on the album, "Stop").
The imagery features a cartoon segment with some teenagers (the same ones from "In the Flesh?") running over a rag doll replica of Pink. He then shouts through a megaphone while his followers march through the street. Following the images of the fascist crowd, the screaming face and a fascist breaking a man's skull from "What Shall We Do Now?", a dog biting meat off a hook then consumed by a larger one (from the Animals tour), and the famous goose-stepping hammer sequence, we see Pink yell "Stop".
As with "Run Like Hell," the film version of the song was considerably altered from the album version. Following the opening harmonies, it goes right into Pink's shouted instructions, but omits the lines about "turning on the showers and firing the ovens" and "the coons and the Reds and the Jews". Additionally, all of David Gilmour's vocals except for his line "Would you like to see Britannia rule again" have been edited out, while Pink's shouted instructions at the end of the song are extended over the "Marching Hammers" montage.
In the concerts of The Wall, a member of Pink Floyd, often Waters, would wear a dictator uniform. Gilmour would provide the high pitched "Ooooh, you cannot reach me now, ooooooh!" The song would build up until the lights extinguish in preparation to introduce the "Pink puppet" that sings "Stop". The marching hammers animation would be displayed on a circular screen above the stage during concerts.
Later concerts, performed by Waters after his departure from the band, featured a similar scene. Backing singers provided Gilmour's lines, and most memorably in the 2010-2012 tour of The Wall, the song ended with the marching hammers filling the entire wall.
The full, uncut animation shown at the concert begins with a cartoon image of a hill. On top of the hill are indistinct objects, moving. Suddenly, as the guitar leitmotif plays briefly, the sky goes dark grey, a symbol of evil. The scene scrolls down to reveal London being enveloped in darkness as "Would you like to see..." and the rest of the verse is sung. Then, an abandoned tricycle is shown, as "Would you like to send..." and the rest of that verse is sung. An abandoned playground is shown as the final verse is sung. Then a viaduct appears, where something is goose-stepping. At long last it is revealed to us that the objects on the hill, what possibly scared the children and what was under the viaduct, are marching hammers. As the fascist dictator shows increasing desperation, louder and angrier, there is a whip pan in to the hammers, and as the camera pans there is a sudden, loud, abrupt instrumental sound, which is quickly replaced by a piano. The animation stops, as the audience is taken into "Stop".
- Jorge Sacido Romero and Luis Miguel Varela Cabo opined that "Waiting for the Worms" represented Waters' fears of a "potential ideological drift towards an ultranationalist, imperialist and racist stand that calls for the resurrection of a Britannia that is both pure and almighty."
- In 2010, Dublin band Twinkranes covered the song for a Mojo magazine tribute album.
- Roger Waters — EMS VCS 3, lead and backing vocals, megaphone vocals
- David Gilmour — lead vocals, backing vocals (intro), laughter, guitars, bass guitar, Prophet-5 synthesiser
- Nick Mason — drums
- Richard Wright — organ
- Bob Ezrin — piano, backing vocals 
- Bruce Johnston — backing vocals
- Toni Tennille — backing vocals
- Joe Chemay — backing vocals
- Stan Farber — backing vocals
- Jim Haas — backing vocals
- John Joyce — backing vocals
- Fitch, Vernon. The Pink Floyd Encyclopedia (3rd edition), 2005. ISBN 1-894959-24-8.
- Strong, Martin C. (2004). The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate Books. p. 1177. ISBN 1-84195-551-5.
- Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X.
- Blake, Mark (2008). Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd. Da Capo Press. p. 281. ISBN 978-0-306-81752-6.
- Sacido Romero, Jorge; Varela Cabo, Luis Miguel (December 2006), "Roger Waters' Poetry of the Absent Father: British Identity in Pink Floyd's The Wall", Atlantis 28 (2), ISSN 0210-6124, retrieved 2010-06-27
- Full Albums: Pink Floyd's The Wall Pt. 2, Cover Me Songs, 2010.
- Fitch, Vernon and Mahon, Richard, Comfortably Numb — A History of The Wall 1978–1981, 2006, p. 89.
- Fitch and Mahon, p. 108.