Empty Spaces

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"Empty Spaces"
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 1978–1979
Genre Progressive rock
Length 2:10
Label Harvest (UK)
Columbia (US)
Songwriter(s) Roger Waters
Producer(s) Bob Ezrin, David Gilmour, James Guthrie and Roger Waters

"Empty Spaces" is a song by the English progressive rock band Pink Floyd, featured as the eighth track on their 1979 rock opera The Wall. It is the only known song by Pink Floyd to contain a backmasked message.


The song is in E minor, and is two minutes, eight seconds in length. It features a long introductory section, with solo guitar and a repetitive drumbeat, and an airport announcement, as a reference to Pink heading for a concert tour. The song reaches a climax of tension, at which point Roger Waters plays a descending blues scale over the minor dominant, B minor, cueing the start of the vocals. Roger Waters sings a short verse, ending on the phrase "How shall I complete the wall?" This track shares a backing track with "What Shall We Do Now?", sped up from D to E, with new guitar and vocals. The last beat introduces the next song, "Young Lust".


The Wall tells the story of Pink, an alienated and embittered rock star. At this point in the narrative, Pink is now grown up and married, but he and his wife are having relationship problems because of his distance, and his nearly-complete emotional "wall". Pink asks himself how he should complete its construction.

Movie and live versions[edit]

On both the film adaptation the song is dropped in favour of "What Shall We Do Now?", and on the recording of the live performance of this album, this song serves as an intro to "What Shall We Do Now?".

Hidden message[edit]

Directly before the lyrical section, there is a hidden message. It is isolated on the left channel of the song. When heard normally, it appears to be nonsense. If played backwards, the following can be heard:

–Hello looker... Congratulations. You have just discovered the secret message. Please send your answer to Old Pink, care of the Funny Farm, Chalfont...
–Roger! Carolyne's on the phone!

Roger Waters congratulates the listener for finding this message, and jokes that they can send her answer to "Old Pink" (being either a comical reference to Syd Barrett, or a foreshadowing of Pink's eventual insanity), who lives somewhere in a funny farm (a term to describe a psychiatric hospital) in Chalfont. Before he can reveal the exact location, however, he gets interrupted by someone (James Guthrie) in the background who says Carolyne (Waters' then wife) is on the phone.[3]



Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ "Jeff Milner's Backmasking site". Jeff Milner. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 
  2. ^ Nemcoff, Mark Yoshimoto (4 April 2013). "Empty Spaces: Backwards Messages, Stairway to Heaven and a Failure to Communicate". WordSushi. Retrieved 11 June 2017. 
  3. ^ BBC - Culture, The Hidden Messages in Songs
  4. ^ Fitch, Vernon and Mahon, Richard, Comfortably Numb - A History of The Wall 1978–1981, 2006, p.82.

External links[edit]