“Another Brick in the Wall” is the title of three songs set to variations of the same basic theme, on Pink Floyd’s 1979 rock opera, The Wall, subtitled Part 1 (working title “Reminiscing”), Part 2 (working title “Education”), and Part 3 (working title “Drugs”). All parts were written by Pink Floyd’s bassist, Roger Waters.
Part 2 is a protest song against rigid schooling in general and boarding schools in the UK in particular. It was also released as a single and provided the band’s only number-one hit in the United Kingdom, the United States, West Germany and many other countries. In addition, in the US, along with the tracks, “Run Like Hell”, and “Don’t Leave Me Now”, “Another Brick in the Wall” reached number fifty-seven on the disco chart.
In the UK, Part 2 was Pink Floyd’s first single since 1968’s “Point Me at the Sky”; the song was also the final number-one single of the 1970s. For Part 2, Pink Floyd received a Grammy nomination for Best Performance by a Rock Duo or Group and lost to Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind”. In addition, Part 2 was number 375 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. The single sold over 4 million copies worldwide.
That single, as well as the album The Wall, were banned in South Africa in 1980 after the song was adopted by supporters of a nationwide school boycott protesting racial inequities in education under the apartheid regime.
Each of the three parts has a similar tune, and lyrical structure (though not lyrics, aside from the “all in all” refrain), and each is louder and more enraged than the one before, rising from the sadness of Part I to the protesting Part II to the furious Part III.
Part 1 of the song is very quiet dynamically and features a long, subdued guitar solo. The vocals are softer and gentler in tone than in Parts 2 and 3, although there is a short, sharp rise in dynamics and tone for a brief period towards the end of the lyrical portion. Sniffing, shouting, wailing, calling, and children can be faintly heard in the background. The song’s beginning coincides with the final chord of “The Thin Ice”, and the echoing multi-guitar solo (after the lyrics) crossfades into the helicopter and yelling-teacher sounds of “The Happiest Days of Our Lives”.
In the album version of The Wall, “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” segues from “The Happiest Days of Our Lives”. The song has strong drums, a well-known bass line and distinctive guitar parts in the background with a smooth, yet edgy guitar solo. The song also features a choir of schoolchildren singing in the second verse: as the song ends, the sounds of a school yard are heard, along with a Scottish teacher who continues to lord it over the children’s lives by shouting “Wrong! Do it again!”, and “If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?!”, and “You! Yes! You behind the bikesheds! Stand still, laddie!”, all of it dissolving into the dull drone of a phone ringing. It trails off into the next song, ending with a deep sigh.