Song of the Day #882: ‘Pigs (Three Different Ones)’ – Pink Floyd

It’s funny how these days, when CDs and digital music are the norm, you still see so many artists sticking to the concept of “sides.” Often track listings on CDs are broken into two groups and even labeled as distinct sides of music.

Increasingly, too, artists are releasing vinyl versions of new albums. It’s nostalgia, I guess, for a time when the physical limitations of the medium forced artistic decisions. Why not have a “hot” and “cold” side, say, if vinyl demanded that you split your album in half?

But today I’m featuring an artist that was way ahead of its time, looking past the idea of sides to the yet-to-come full-length CD format years before it was available.

Pink Floyd’s Animals is just five songs long, and two of those songs are the minute-and-a-half bookends ‘Pigs on the Wing’ parts one and two. The meat of the album is just three songs — ‘Dogs,’ ‘Pigs’ and ‘Sheep’ — clocking in at between 10 and 18 minutes each.

On vinyl, Side One contained ‘Pigs On the Wing (Part One)’ and ‘Dogs’ while Side Two picked up with ‘Pigs’ and included ‘Sheep’ and ‘Pigs On the Wing (Part Two).’ Fair enough.

But on cassette, where length limitations were a bit stricter than on vinyl, ‘Pigs’ started on Side One, faded out in the middle of the song and then picked up again on Side Two. As annoying as that was for a young Pink Floyd fan at the time, I find it very cool how ahead of their time they were.

They were crying out for a long-form format like the CD years before it was invented. And rather than conform to the restrictive nature of the medium at their disposal, they just said “Fuck it” and made the album the way they wanted to.

I love that, and I love Animals, even if I haven’t given it a thorough listen probably since high school.

And I find it hilarious that in 2010, I have to present this song to you in (slightly) abbreviated form because YouTube won’t allow clips of more than a certain length.

The more things change…

Big man, pig man, ha ha charade you are.
You well heeled big wheel, ha ha charade you are.
And when your hand is on your heart,
You’re nearly a good laugh,
Almost a joker,
With your head down in the pig bin,
Saying “Keep on digging.”
Pig stain on your fat chin.
What do you hope to find.
When you’re down in the pig mine.
You’re nearly a laugh,
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry.

Bus stop rat bag, ha ha charade you are.
You fucked up old hag, ha ha charade you are.
You radiate cold shafts of broken glass.
You’re nearly a good laugh,
Almost worth a quick grin.
You like the feel of steel,
You’re hot stuff with a hatpin,
And good fun with a hand gun.
You’re nearly a laugh,
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry.

Hey you, Whitehouse,
Ha ha charade you are.
You house proud town mouse,
Ha ha charade you are
You’re trying to keep our feelings off the street.
You’re nearly a real treat,
All tight lips and cold feet
And do you feel abused?
…..! …..! …..! …..!
You gotta stem the evil tide,
And keep it all on the inside.
Mary you’re nearly a treat,
Mary you’re nearly a treat
But you’re really a cry.

5 thoughts on “Song of the Day #882: ‘Pigs (Three Different Ones)’ – Pink Floyd

  1. Dana says:

    I don’t know, I find songs of this length too self-indulgent and I kinda lose patience I mean, other than the fact that this song was probably timed to go along with the amount of time it takes to smoke a joint, is there really any musical need for it to go on as long as it does?

    You get on Sting’s case for perhaps 30 seconds of vocal redundancy. How can you not get a bit annoyed by the repetitive guitar riff starting at about the 5 minute mark here?

  2. Clay says:

    Oh, it’s completely self-indulgent. But that’s part of the charm of Pink Floyd… how over-the-top they are in their prog-rock theatricality.

    I see a distinction between Sting’s vocal repetition and the sort of thing Pink Floyd does, though, because the former is annoying while the latter is just boring. You can put on a long Pink Floyd song and just chill to it (with or without the aid of mood-altering substances).

  3. Amy says:

    I have to admit that as soon as I realized you weren’t featuring one of the “bookends,” I realized that I wasn’t going to listen to today’s SOTD. I have no patience for that sort of self-indulgence, and I have very little patience for Pink Floyd.

    That said, I do agree that it’s inspiring to see an artist create the art form as he desires it, regardless of the limitations of the medium currently available to him. I’m trying to think of other types of artists who have done similar things… anyone?

  4. Clay says:

    This is an unrelated topic, but I’m willing to bet that 95% of Pink Floyd’s fan base is male. This is music for high school boys and old hippies.

  5. Amy says:

    I don’t think that’s unrelated, and, yes, I’d agree 🙂

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