Sheep (song)

Sheep (song)

Infobox Song
Name = Sheep

Artist = Pink Floyd
Album = Animals
Released = January 23 1977 (UK)
February 2 1977 (US)
Recorded = April-May, July 1976
Genre = Progressive rock
Length = 10:20
Writer = Roger Waters
Label = Harvest / Capitol
Producer = Pink Floyd
Tracks =
#"Pigs on the Wing 1"
#"Pigs (Three Different Ones)"
#"Pigs on the Wing 2"

"Sheep" is a song by the English band Pink Floyd. It was released on the album "Animals" in 1977. It was originally titled "Raving and Drooling".


During their tours in 1974, Pink Floyd played three new songs in the first half of the shows, followed by "The Dark Side of the Moon" in its entirety. Those three new songs were "You Gotta Be Crazy" (which would later become "Dogs"), "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and "Raving And Drooling".

During performances of "Raving And Drooling" a recording of a DJ at BBC Radio called Jimmy Young was played after being cut up and reassembled in randomly. This was Waters' idea of a man "raving and drooling" (or being insane). The lyrics of the song at this point were quite different from the ones that were to become "Sheep" [] . "Raving and Drooling" was originally a more jam based song, containing fewer lyrics.

Both "You Gotta Be Crazy" and "Raving And Drooling" were originally planned to be on the album following the tour ("Wish You Were Here"), but the plans were changed and they both ended up in different forms on "Animals".

In live versions from 1977, backing guitarist Snowy White played bass guitar as Roger Waters shared electric guitar duties with David Gilmour. The performance was almost identical to the album version except that after the ending it would give way to a slower ending with Richard Wright playing an organ solo.


Sheep in "Animals" are not so different from the ones in George Orwell's 1945 novel Animal Farm. The sheep represent the lowest class of the social system, the proletariat. They are oblivious and exploited, "only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air". In the first verse they are described to be peacefully grazing - unaware that they are soon to be brought to a slaughterhouse. They are warned of the presence of "dogs", the iron-handed guardians of the system. It is also described in the first few lines that the artist had "looked over Jordan and I have seen / Things are not what they seem," which is a reference to Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, and has become an idiom for having an ecstatic vision, especially one involving death, particularly one's own. In the book of Exodus, the Israelites must cross the river Jordan to get to the "Promised Land" after their escape from Egyptian Slavery.

In the second verse the awful truth suddenly dawns on them and with "terminal shock in (their) eyes" they realize that they are being led into the "valley of steel", which is a metaphorical phrase, because it also represents the high-rise buildings (hence the steel framework), home of the corporate world as well as the slaughterhouse. The song continues into a mock biblical verse in which the sheep describe their dedicated belief in their master with "great power and great hunger." But in a humorous turnabout the sheep, "through quiet reflection and great dedication" master the art of karate and rebel against the dogs.

The third verse describes the sheep's revolt, as they fall "on his neck with a scream." They might have had enough but they are still undereducated and uncivilized as they are described as "demented avengers." The song is completed with a cheerful announcement: "Have you heard the news? / The dogs are dead!" The sheep, because of their strength in numbers, overpower and kill the dogs.

Despite popular belief, this is likely not a reference to the Russian October Revolution as represented in Animal Farm because the album is specifically a critique of western capitalism.

Psalm 23

Starting at 6:27 and ending at 7:08, a parody of Psalm 23 ("The Lord is my shepherd...") is spoken in the background by means of a vocoder, with the words changed to suit the subject of the song.

Originally (during live shows) this was performed by Nick Mason, but on the album this was done by an anonymous roadie.

The lyrics spoken in the background are:

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.He makes me down to lie,Through pastures green, He leadeth me the silent waters by.With bright knives, He releaseth my soul.He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places.He converteth me to lamb cutlets.For lo! He hath great power and great hunger.When cometh the day we lowly ones,Through quiet reflection and great dedication,Master the art of karate,Lo! we shall rise upAnd then we'll make the bugger's eyes water."


*Music and lyrics - Roger Waters

*Roger Waters - vocal, rhythm guitar, tape and electronic effects, vocoder
*David Gilmour - lead guitar, bass, ARP Quadra synthesizer
*Richard Wright - Fender-Rhodes piano, Hammond organ, ARP String Synthesizer, Minimoog Synthesizers
*Nick Mason - drums, tape effects

Recorded April, May and July 1976 at the band's own Britannia Row Studios, Islington, London.

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


During the breakdown section, in-between the 2nd chorus and the synthesizer solo, various sound effects used in the middle section of "Dogs" are once again utilized in this section, including the repeated "Stone" line that was sung by David Gilmour and echoed to produce a dog like sound.

There are also some sustained vocal lines that gradually merge into a saxophone type sound.


cquote|On Animals Roger played bass on "Dogs" and I played bass on "Sheep" and "Pigs." Most of the bass line on "Sheep" (apart from the ending) was what Roger had been playing onstage, as we had been performing it as "Raving and Drooling" for a couple of years. However, in the studio Roger had a rhythm guitar part he wanted to play, so we swapped roles. On "Pigs" the part and the playing are mine. David Gilmour, 1998, to Karl Coryat, "Bass Player"

Cover Version

*A cover of "Sheep" by John Stack & Numira appears on 2003 Pink Floyd tribute album "A Fair Forgery of Pink Floyd"
* Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade covers the entire Animals album on their Live Frogs release.
* The band Vida Blue performed this song multiple times on their 2002 tour.


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