MK wrote:There's an interview somewhere where Roger Waters acknowledges that the original idea for the album was loosely inspired by Orwell, particularly the use of farm animals for representation (it could've been monkeys and sea bass, but the heart of the concept would still be there).
The message has been modified a bit. The sheep in Animal Farm have a hard time understanding what's happening to them and what's going on - they're easily confused and remain at the bottom. Waters is more empowering, they know what's going on and rise up against their aggressors. Outside of that, the representation of pigs are similar in both - they represent individuals in complete control, who wallow in greed and who abuse their power. Dogs are sleazy enforcers in both cases, except in Orwell they're like mindless, violent thugs, still clearly beneath pigs but they don't seem to care (or possibly understand) that. Waters is more cynical, the dogs know their place, but they play along with the game (class-wise - either in business, politics, whatever) 'cause toeing the line still has its benefit.
But that's not a huge departure from Animal Farm (Orwell's allegory may be about the corruption of power or the failure of idealism - however you interpret it - but it's still strongly tied to class structure and how it all feeds off each other), it's not very profound even if Waters thinks it is, and you've seen/heard/read this before and since.
Starting with the song 'Free Four' off of 'Obscured by Clouds' Waters began addressing aging, death and loss in his songs -- often with a refreshing lack of sentimentality, though some might call it a callous lack of sympathy.
In Free Four we get:
THe memories of a man in old age
are the deeds of a man in his prime
You shuffle in the gloom of a sickroom
And talk to yourself as you die
And by Animals we get the lines that are maybe the apotheosis of that in his work, referring to the businessman 'dogs' --
You gotta keep one eye looking over your shoulder
You know it's going to get harder, and harder, and harder as you get older
And in the end you'll pack, fly down south, hide your head in the sand
Just another sad old man
All alone and dying of cancer.
Those lines struck me with force back then and stll do.
If a punk band has spewed this they'd have been called brilliant and transgressive, whereas IIRC in the press at the time, only Robert CHristgau picked up on that idea.