My Top 1000 Songs #455: When The Tigers Broke Free
I hate to spill a lot of ink on Pink Floyd's Roger Waters right now, because f*ck that guy. Still, "When The Tigers Broke Free" is a simply tremendous piece of work, one of the most emotionally affecting anti-war songs I know, something that leaves a real mark.
The song itself has a convoluted history--written for 1979's double LP The Wall, but not recorded until 1982, when it appeared (in two parts) in the film. It later showed up on a Floyd compilation, and was ultimately inserted into the CD reissue of their final record, 1983's (underrated) The Final Cut (albeit more a Waters solo record).
While Waters, whose father died in WWII, had been alluding to his father's death since the band's early days (see, e.g., "Corporal Clegg" from 1968's Saucerful of Secrets), "Tigers" finally presented a detailed telling of his demise.
"It was just before dawn, one miserable morning in black '44... The other ranks held back the enemy tanks for awhile. And the Anzio bridgehead was held for the price of a few hundred ordinary lives...."
"It was dark all around, there was frost in the ground, when the tigers broke free. And no one survived from the Royal Fusiliers Company Z. They were all left behind, most of them dead, the rest of them dying. And that's how the High Command took my daddy from me."
It's delivered as a funeral elegy, slow and dark and haunting, and there's nothing quite like it.The movie version...