Amused to Death

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Not to be confused with Amusing Ourselves to Death.
Amused to Death
Roger Waters Amused to Death.jpg
Studio album by Roger Waters
Released 7 September 1992
Recorded 1987–1992
Genre Rock, progressive rock
Length 72:45
Label Columbia
Producer Roger Waters, Nick Griffiths, Patrick Leonard
Roger Waters chronology
The Wall – Live in Berlin
Amused to Death
The Legend of 1900
Roger Waters studio chronology
Radio K.A.O.S.
Amused to Death
Ça Ira
Singles from Amused To Death
  1. "What God Wants, Part 1"
    Released: 24 August 1992
  2. "The Bravery of Being Out of Range"
    Released: 1992
  3. "Three Wishes"
    Released: 1992 (UK)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Blender 4/5 stars[2]
Entertainment Weekly (A-)[3]
Sputnikmusic 4/5 stars[4]

Amused to Death is a concept album, and the third studio album by former Pink Floyd bassist and songwriter Roger Waters. It was released in 1992.

The album title was attached to material that Waters began working on during the Radio K.A.O.S. tour. It was several years before the album was released and it is unknown how much the material was changed in the interim.

The album's title, and much of its thematic material, was inspired by Neil Postman's book Amusing Ourselves to Death. In Postman's later book The End of Education, he remarks on the album: "(...) Roger Waters, once the lead singer of Pink Floyd, was sufficiently inspired by a book of mine to produce a CD called Amused to Death. This fact so elevated my prestige among undergraduates that I am hardly in a position to repudiate him or his kind of music."[5]

Waters stated in an interview with Rockline on 8 February 1993 that he wanted to use samples of HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey on the album. Stanley Kubrick, the director, turned him down on the basis that it would open the door to many other people using the sound sample.[6] Others think that Kubrick refused because Pink Floyd had not allowed him to use music from Atom Heart Mother in his film A Clockwork Orange.[7] Waters has since then used audio of HAL describing his mind being taken away when performing the song live (as an intro, specifically during his "In the Flesh" concert tour, after Kubrick's death).

"My view is that I've been involved in two absolutely classic albums – The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall," Waters told Classic Rock. "And if you haven't got Amused to Death, you haven't got the full set. So this album – the live one, which pulls together songs from all three albums – hopefully redresses the balance."[citation needed] On 19 September 2013, Waters told BBC HardTalk that Amused to Death has been completely underrated.[8][9]

On April 15, 2015, Waters announced that the album would be re-released on July 24, 2015, featuring a new 5.1 multichannel audio mix, as well as a new stereo mix. It will be available in a number of formats, including Compact Disc, SACD, Blu-Ray and high-resolution downloads.[10] [11]


Amused to Death was inspired by the book Amusing Ourselves to Death, a critique of television and its related culture by Neil Postman. The album Amused to Death features Jeff Beck on lead guitar.

Like every solo album Roger Waters has recorded, Amused to Death is a concept album. This one is organised loosely around the idea of a monkey randomly switching channels on a television, but explores numerous political and social themes, including critiques of the First Gulf War in "The Bravery of Being Out of Range" and "Perfect Sense".

The first song, "The Ballad of Bill Hubbard", features a sample of World War I veteran Alfred "Raz" Razzell, a member of the Royal Fusiliers (much like Waters' father Eric Fletcher Waters had been in the World War II) who describes his account of finding fellow soldier William "Bill" Hubbard, to whom the album is dedicated, severely wounded on the battlefield. After failed attempts to take him to safety, Razzell is forced to abandon him in no-man's land. This sample is continued at the end of the title track, at the very end of the album, providing a more upbeat coda to the tragic story.

The second song, "What God Wants, Part I", follows and contrasts the moving words of Razzell by opening with the TV being tuned instead into an excerpt that sounds like it's taken from a vox pop of a child who says, "I don't mind about the war. That's one of the things I like to watch, if it's a war going on. Cos then I know if, um, our side's winning, if our side's losing…" he is then interrupted by the channel change and a burst of ape-chatter.

The third song, "Perfect Sense, Part I", begins with a loud, unintelligible rant, and then a backwards message voice by Waters: "Julia, however, in the light and visions of the issues of Stanley, we changed our minds. We have decided to include a backward message. Stanley, for you, and for all the other book burners." The message climaxes with Waters yelling in the aggressive Scottish voice he used to depict the character of the teacher in The Wall.

In "Perfect Sense, Part II", famed sportscaster Marv Albert narrates a war as if it were a basketball game, and a massive choir sings their "global anthem":

Can't you see
It all makes perfect sense
Expressed in dollars and cents
Pounds, shillings, and pence

"The Bravery of Being Out of Range" includes a reference to a song written by Waters on Pink Floyd's 1977 album Animals, Sheep. In Sheep, Waters sings "I've looked over Jordan and I have seen..." Waters references and expands on this line in "The Bravery of Being Out of Range" when he sings "I looked over Jordan and what did I see/Saw a U.S. Marine in a pile of debris".

"Late Home Tonight" recalls the 1986 US air strike against Libya from the perspective of two "ordinary wives" and a young American F-111 pilot.

At the beginning of "What God Wants, Part II", Charles Fleischer (better known as the voice of Roger Rabbit) performs the greedy evangelist's sermon.

The song "Watching TV" (a duet with Don Henley) explores the influence of mass media on the Chinese protests for democracy in Tiananmen Square.

Waters makes reference to Andrew Lloyd Webber in the song "It's a Miracle":

We cower in our shelters, with our hands over our ears
Lloyd Webber's awful stuff runs for years and years and years
An earthquake hits the theatre, but the operetta lingers
Then the piano lid comes down and breaks his fucking fingers
It's a miracle

Waters asserted that Webber had plagiarised music from Pink Floyd's "Echoes" for sections of the musical The Phantom of the Opera.[12]

The concluding, title track "Amused to Death" features a sample from the 1977 low-budget zombie film Shock Waves in which the films characters wrestle over a flashlight,[13] and begins with the lyric, "Doctor, Doctor." "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk" on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the first song written by Waters, opens with the same line.[14][15]

The album is mixed in QSound to enhance the spatial feel of the audio, and the many sound effects on the album – rifle range ambience, sleigh-bells, cars, planes, distant horses, chirping crickets, and dogs – all make use of the 3-D facility.[16] A limited "MasterSound" edition was also released.[17]

Amused to Death reached No. 8 on the UK Albums Chart, Waters' first Top 10 in his homeland, and a career high of No. 21 on the Billboard 200, aided by "What God Wants, Part I", which hit No. 4 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in 1992. It was also certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry for sales of over 60,000 in the UK.[18]


— Roger Waters, speaking about the album to The Los Angeles Times, September 1992.[19]

Track listing[edit]

All songs were written by Roger Waters.

No. Title Length
1. "The Ballad of Bill Hubbard"   4:19
2. "What God Wants, Part I"   6:00
3. "Perfect Sense, Part I"   4:16
4. "Perfect Sense, Part II"   2:50
5. "The Bravery of Being Out of Range"   4:43
6. "Late Home Tonight, Part I"   4:00
7. "Late Home Tonight, Part II"   2:13
8. "Too Much Rope"   5:47
9. "What God Wants, Part II"   3:41
10. "What God Wants, Part III"   4:08
11. "Watching TV"   6:07
12. "Three Wishes"   6:50
13. "It's a Miracle"   8:30
14. "Amused to Death"   9:06



Album – UK

Year Position
1992 8[20]

AlbumBillboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1992 Billboard 200 21


Year Song Chart Position
1992 What God Wants Pt. 1 Billboard Mainstream Rock 4[21]
1992 What God Wants Pt. 1 UK Single Charts 35[22]


  1. ^ "allmusic ((( Amused to Death > Overview )))". Retrieved 26 October 2009. 
  2. ^ "Every Original CD Reviewed: Pink Floyd – Blender". Retrieved 26 October 2009. 
  3. ^ "Amused to Death Music Review". Entertainment Weekly. 11 September 1992. Archived from the original on 9 October 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2009. 
  4. ^ "Roger Waters – Amused To Death Review – sputnikmusic". Archived from the original on 22 December 2007. Retrieved 26 October 2009. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Archived 4 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "The Kubrick FAQ Part 4". Archived from the original on 24 May 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2011. 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Roger Waters – Perfect Sense". UGO Networks. Retrieved 13 June 2009. 
  12. ^ Q magazine, November 1992, Archived 17 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^
  14. ^ //
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ BPI Certifications, British Phonographic Industry, archived from the original on 15 January 2013, retrieved 5 May 2010 
  19. ^ Richard Cromelin (13 September 1992). "POP MUSIC : Roger Waters' Dark Side of the Tube". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  20. ^ "Chart Stats – Roger Waters – Amused To Death". Archived from the original on 14 October 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2009. 
  21. ^ "Roger Waters: Billboard Singles". Allmusic. 
  22. ^ "UK Top 40 Hit Database". Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. 

External links[edit]