Bring the Boys Back Home

Bring the Boys Back Home

Song infobox
Name = Bring the Boys Back Home

Artist = Pink Floyd
Album = The Wall
Released = 30 November 1979 (US), 8 December 1979 (UK)
track_no = 5 of disc 2
Recorded = April-November, 1979
Genre = Art rock/Progressive rock/ Symphonic rock
Length = 1:21
Writer = Waters
Label = Harvest Records (UK)
Columbia Records (US)/Capitol Records (US)
Producer = Bob Ezrin, David Gilmour and Roger Waters
prev = "Vera"
prev_no = 4 of disc 2
next = "Comfortably Numb"
next_no = 6 of disc 2
"Bring the Boys Back Home" is a song on the Pink Floyd album, "The Wall". The song appeared as a b-side on the single, "When the Tigers Broke Free". "Bring the Boys Back Home" is about when the young boy Pink goes looking for his father when everyone comes home from the war, only to find out he did not make it. The people around him are happy and carefree singing "Bring the Boys Back Home". At the end of the song, the orchestra fades out with memories of events that drove Pink to mental isolation: the teacher from "Another Brick in the Wall," the operator from " Young Lust," and the groupie from the beginning of "One of My Turns." Pink's manager yelling, "Time to go!" (to play a concert) and manic laughter are also mixed into the closing seconds, followed by the ominous voice from "Is There Anybody Out There?." The track ends in silence before "Comfortably Numb" starts.

According to songwriter Roger Waters, "Bring the Boys Back Home" is the central, unifying song on "The Wall":

" . . . it's partly about not letting people go off and be killed in wars, but it's partly about not allowing rock and roll, or making cars, or selling soap, or getting involved in biological research, or anything that anybody might do . . . not letting "that" become such an important and 'jolly boy's game' that it becomes more important than friends, wives, children, or other people."

:::--Roger Waters:::Interview by Tommy Vance, "Interview With Roger Waters", :::broadcast November 30, 1979, BBC Radio One


The listener first hears several snare drums articulating a march beat in 4/4 time. The song proves to be polyrhythmic, as this beat continues unchanged as the orchestra, choir, and lead vocals begin in 12/8. Waters sings the lyrics in his upper register (in a style that might be described as "melodic shouting"), supported by a choir. Waters and choir exhort, "Bring the boys back home / Don't leave the children on their own". On the final reiteration, the song, primarily in G major, climaxes on the relative minor of E minor. The choir abruptly drops away, leaving Waters's voice alone, agonized and struggling to sustain the high note (the first B above Middle C). A lone snare drum also remains, continuing its insistent march beat.

In the film, the song is sung by a large choir, without Waters's lead vocal. It is also expanded, with an extended vamp on the subdominant before repetition of the full four-line lyric.


The original Pink Floyd concerts of "The Wall" were so expensive that, in the end, the band lost money staging them. They were also, at that time, the most elaborate stage productions a rock band had ever mounted before. For these reasons, and others, it is understandable that the band chose to use the original recordings of Michael Kamen's orchestral arrangements, rather than hire and rehearse a live orchestra. Recordings of the original sound effects (televisions, helicopters, various atmospheric effects) were used, as well. With the use of click tracks, the musicians were able to play in sync with the recordings (with the additional result that they reproduced nearly every song at its exact original tempo).

As "Bring the Boys Back Home" is performed by an orchestra, with a large number of drummers, and none of the typical rock and roll instruments, Roger Waters would simply sing along to a remix of the studio recording. The listener can hear this for himself on "Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980-81", paying special attention to the ending, when the "live" Roger drops out, and the recorded lead vocal remains, sustaining the last note with the unique wavering heard on the studio album.

Ten years later, when Roger Waters (now a solo act) decided to stage a massive re-production of "The Wall" at the site of the recently-dismantled Berlin Wall, he had the personnel and the finances for a full-scale arrangement. Using the extended arrangement from the film, Waters sang (in his most strident, histrionic style) and marched around the stage dressed in full military regalia, while backed by The Rundfunk Orchestra and Choir, and the Military Orchestra of the Soviet Army.


*Roger Waters - vocals [Fitch, Vernon and Mahon, Richard, "Comfortably Numb - A History of The Wall 1978-1981", 2006, p. 97]
*Joe Porcaro - snare drum [Fitch and Mahon, p. 97]
*35 New York drummers including Blue Ocean - snare drums [Fitch and Mahon, p. 97]
*New York Opera - choir [Fitch and Mahon, p. 97]
*New York Orchestra - strings [Fitch and Mahon, p. 97]


* Fitch, Vernon. The Pink Floyd Encyclopedia (3rd edition), 2005. ISBN 1-894959-24-8

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