The songwriter, bassist and singer Roger Waters was born in Great Bookham, England in 1943. His father was a school teacher who had to fight in the Second World War and was killed during the battle of Anzio in Italy when Waters’ was only five months old. So he was raised by his mother Mary Waters, who was also a school teacher.
His father’s death affected Roger and was shown on his songwriting in Pink Floyd and on his solo career. So his childhood and family were actually very important for not only the kind person he became but also for the kind of songs he would write.
On Pink Floyd’s second best-selling album “The Wall” released in 1979, there is a famous track called “Mother”. But it wasn’t actually inspired by his own mother. “Mama’s gonna make all of your nightmares come true. Mama’s gonna put all of her fears into you,” the lyrics say.
Those are certainly heavy lines for his own mother to hear but he recalled in an interview, at the time the song was released, what he told her about the song.
What Roger Waters told his mom about the song “Mother”
Talking with Karl Dallas in 1982, three years after the album was released, Roger explained that his relationship with his mom was always great. “My relationship with my mother wasn’t like that. In fact the mother is one of the bad areas of characterisation in the film (The Wall), I think. She’s full of contradictions, that character, really. Not very well drawn. So I think that may have something to do with the fact that I didn’t draw very much on my own experience for that area.”
“I mean I did find a dying rat on the rugby field and take it home and try to look after it. My own mother did make me put in the garage, but not like that. She wasn’t a crazy, overweight, hysterical woman. I think that’s a very crude portrayal of that response. It’s a cliché, it’s not the way. I think it’s wrong.”
“She hasn’t seen the film yet. In fact I’m going to take her to see it in a couple of weeks when she comes up to town. When the record came out, I talked to her about it. (I) warned her what it was about,” Roger Waters said.
Like the entire “The Wall” album, the track “Mother” was entirely written by Roger Waters. Since the album tells the story of Pink, an embittered Rock star, the track talks about that character relationship with his mom. She was an overprotective and single mother, who had lost her husband in World War II.
Waters sings the parts which belong to Pink and his mother’s answers are sung by David Gilmour. Curiously, Nick Mason and Richard Wright weren’t part of the recording of the song. The Hammond organ and piano parts were recorded by the producer Bob Ezrin. For the drum parts, the band hired the legendary session musician and Toto’s drummer Jeff Porcaro. The track remains as one of Pink Floyd’s most famous songs. “The Wall” sold an estimated amount of more than 30 million copies worldwide.
In 1982, the movie “Pink Floyd – The Wall” directed by Alan Parker was released. The screenplay was written by Roger Waters and the main character “Pink” was played by The Boomtown Rats vocalist and Live Aid creator Bob Geldof.