Few concept albums can compete with Pink Floyd’s The Wall. The album, released in 1979, marked a departure for the band, ushering in a new and more experimental period of rock ‘n’ roll. Among the album’s many wonderful tracks is “Hey You,” a power ballad sung by the main character. Pink, the protagonist, finishes the wall he created against the world in this song. Despite the fact that it has been his life’s work, he suddenly panics and attempts to break through the barrier anew, fearful of being cut off from the rest of the world. “Hey You” and The Wall were met with skepticism at first, with some reviews finding the album difficult to follow and others dismissing it as a pretentious but avant-garde creative endeavour. “Hey You” was shot as a dreamlike plunge into Pink’s psychosis in the 1982 film adaptation of The Wall but was ultimately deleted from the film. Despite receiving mixed reviews, The Wall was a commercial success. It became considered as one of the most inventive concept albums in rock history, topping charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Pink Floyd was later nominated for two Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group Vocal.
The Story Pink, a rock star, becomes increasingly dissatisfied with his existence in The Wall. After his father was killed in World War II, he began to envisage erecting a figurative wall to isolate himself from the rest of the world. This wall grows thicker with each unpleasant experience, such as bullying at school and, eventually, marital strife. Pink sings “Hey You” after discovering that his wife is having an affair. He lays the final bricks in the emotional and mental wall he has erected, distraught. He is, however, scared of his isolation after the wall is constructed. He desperately calls out to the people outside, but they can’t hear him. Then he tries to break through the barrier, but it is too high and sturdy. Finally, he gives up and succumbs to the mental degeneration caused by his isolation.
The wall was too high
As you can see
No matter how he tried
He could not break free
And the worms ate into his brain
Pink appears to be succumbing to death in the final phrase, comparing the “mental death” of isolating oneself from the world to bodily death. Illustrations in “Hey You”. Pink’s experience is described in the song lyrics, which draw on images from many tales and employ Biblical imagery.
Hey you, would you help me to carry the stone?
Open your heart, I’m coming home
This could be a reference to the tale of Sisyphus, who was cursed to roll a boulder up a hill forever as his punishment. Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters stated that Pink’s impotence and loneliness were designed to demonstrate that humans can only endure their difficulties collectively.
Hey you, don’t help them to bury the light
Don’t give in without a fight
This is a reference to Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus warns his disciples not to “hide [their] light under a bushel.”
Pink Floyd’s reaction to increasingly bored fans was a major source of inspiration for The Wall. The members of the band believed that their listeners were no longer interested in the deeper meaning of their songs, therefore they wanted to challenge them to shake off their mental “decay” and enjoy the music on a deeper level. Pink’s impression of persons in the outer world is linked to this. He claims that they have allowed their thoughts to dull, and as a result, they are unable to hear or connect with him.
Hey you, standing in the aisles
With your itchy feet and fading smiles,
Can you hear me?
“It’s about the breakup of my first marriage, all that misery and pain, and being on the road when the woman declares over the phone that she’s fallen in love with somebody else,” Waters explained to Mojo magazine in 2009. “It’s a complete disaster, especially if you’re like me.” I was flotsam in the choppy waters of women’s power. I had no choice but to collapse into a fetal position and cry. But the song is also an attempt to connect with other people, to say that perhaps if we act together, some of the negative sensations will go away. There is comfort in community. “The line ‘Hey you, out there beyond the wall/ Breaking bottles in the hall’ is an invitation to come closer to where I live so we can help each other.”
“Hey You’s” Legacy “Hey You” is regarded as one of the most significant concept albums in rock and roll history. Even decades later, its popularity hasn’t dwindled. Waters performed at sold-out venues on his solo tour of The Wall from 2010 through 2013.