Pink Floyd had achieved everything that a band could ever want – universal acclaim, inconceivable amounts of money and complete artistic freedom. But the follow-up to Dark Side was Wish You Were Here, an album that is as resolutely sad a record you could imagine, the story of a band that had every dream come true only to realize the price they paid might’ve been too costly – the band’s internal dynamic was fractured (and never recovered), marriages were going south and Floyd’s once-attentive audience was replaced by fans screaming during the quiet parts for “Money.”
Songs like “Have a Cigar” and “Welcome to the Machine” are about how even gigantic bands feel like cogs in a, well, machine. It’s really one of the most depressing albums ever, because if these guys couldn’t be happy after having everything go their way, can ANYBODY be happy?!
And if Wish You Were Here is “being in Pink Floyd sucks”, Animals is “humans suck”. Breaking down people into three Orwellian categories of pigs, dogs and sheep, Animals is a record I still can’t get a handle on. If you told me you thought it was terrible, I would agree with you on some level – the album kind of just is, a smothering and oppressive affair that shouldn’t work but does. The Cure couldn’t match this nihilism on their most depressive day; check out these lyrics from “Dogs”:
You gotta keep one eye looking over your shoulder / You know it’s going to get harder, and harder, and harder as you
get older / And in the end you’ll pack up and fly down south / Hide your head in the sand / Just another sad old man / All alone and dying of cancer
And that’s how things go if you WIN! Suck it, Leonard Cohen!