Tearing down my 16 year-old self

Bryan Adams performing in Berlin

My 16 year-old self would view with incredulousness the idea that I could have the opportunity to see Roger Waters perform the Wall live and not buy tickets.

When I think of such situations I find myself justifying my position to the adolescent I once was.

In 1990, the Berlin Wall had only recently been knocked down and Roger Waters gathered an incredible collection of singers and actors to perform the Pink Floyd classic, live at the global junction of emotional and political thought.

My Walkman® was rarely without the D–100 cassette, pirated from my friend’s CD copy of the live recording. I had seen the video of the concert as well and my mind, every time I listened to the tape, was filled with images of the theatrics, marvelling at what could be achieved on a stage and the power it could contain.

Soon I had made decisions about which versions I preferred on the original album and which were better in the live version. The opening version of “In the Flesh”, performed by the Scoprions was always a line ball. It lacked the passion and emotion of the original but had the home-town advantage to provide the welcoming introduction required to suck the crowd into the roller-coaster they were about to ride.

Other songs had no competition at all. The inclusion of “What Shall We Do Now?”, the alternate to the album’s foreboding “Empty Spaces” brought words to the mental confusion of a disaffected, depressed adolescent. I remember times when I listened to the original album but, after “Goodbye Blue Sky” I would stop the CD, play the already cued-up tape of “What Shall We Do Now” and into the Bryan Adams version of “Young Lust” and then go back to the CD for “One of My Turns”.

I didn’t know it at the time but this was about to be the end of my close relationship with the music of Pink Floyd. Bossanova by The Pixies came out the same time as that Roger Waters album and that summer I learnt the joys of loud/soft. Pixies led to Sonic Youth, Nirvana, and back to The Birthday Party via Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I always had fond memories of the Pink Floyd time but it was very much a one-way passage to understanding the world through music.

Listening to any version of the Wall now is a reminiscence rather than an enjoyment of the album on its own merits. While seeing Mudhoney live a couple of years ago brought out the 18 year-old who went crazy at clubs, jumping around to “Touch Me I’m Sick”, the 16 year-old Pink Floyd listener was a developmental bridge unable to be crossed ever again.

Short-sighted self-importance is a major failing of the character of Pink. Listening the the Wall I thought I knew all there was to know about the world. The moment, however, that the veil of ignorance lifted, there was no going back. I can’t unlearn.

That 16 year-old me will never comprehend why I didn’t buy a ticket to see Roger Waters this February. He tried to convince me that I would never forgive myself if I didn’t go but really it’s he who wouldn’t forgive me. Realising that I will no longer feel that “space cadet glow” is exactly why I’m not my 16 year-old self and there is nothing to forgive, only to understand.