Recourse to the Law

I recently wondered what album had the highest differential between the times I listened to before my high school graduation to times I listened to it after that. The answer, I decided, was Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut. It was one of the first three albums I ever owned, and was in heavy rotation in my bedroom for quite a while, but I don’t think I’ve played it even once in the past twenty years. So naturally, I needed to see how it held up.200px-thefinalcut.jpg

I was astonished to find how familiar every song was, even after two decades. It’s not a good record, but it has some lovely moments; “Southampton Dock” and the title track hold up particularly well. There are some clunker songs (“Not Now John”), but mostly, it’s a professional and bloodless disc. But then I got to the final cut on The Final Cut, “Two Suns in the Sunset,” the tale of a man driving on some British motorway who sees a nuclear explosion and spends five minutes ruminating musically on how it marks the end of civilization.

Okay, fine, I decided. I can work with it, even the overdramatic bits (“as the windshield melts and my tears evaporate”). Sure, when Roger Waters is trying to dramatize what’s been lost, he layers in a clip of a small child shouting “Daddy! Daddy!” in a fashion that’s more farcical than horrifying. But I finally gave up when Waters got to the climax of that verse, lamenting the ultimate loss that ranks even higher than the death of your loved ones:

You have no recourse to the law anymore.

What the fuck? Billions are dead, the survivors are eating dogs in the street, and you’re upset that you can’t file a lawsuit about it?

The phrase “recourse to the law,” clunky as it is, also appears earlier on the album (on “The Gunner’s Dream”), so obviously Waters was thinking about it a lot. Maybe there was nothing more important to him in 1982 than the knowledge that, if necessary, he would be able to sue David Gilmour.

posted 7 April 2009 in Tasty Bits and tagged , . 5 comments

5 Comments on Recourse to the Law

  1. Tom Nawrocki Says:

    Rob and I have both marveled that when this album was reviewed in Rolling Stone, it was heralded (on the cover!) as “Pink Floyd’s Best LP.” I bought it, and didn’t hate it, but I sure knew better than whoever was writing coverlines for Rolling Stone back then.

  2. Gavin Says:

    Whoever wrote the coverline was following the lead of Kurt Loder, who gave the album five (!!) stars.

    “This may be art rock’s crowning masterpiece,” he wrote. “Not since Bob Dylan’s ‘Masters of War’ twenty years ago has a popular artist unleashed upon the world political order a moral contempt so corrosively convincing, or a life-loving hatred so bracing and brilliantly sustained.”

    The review section for that issue included Pete Townshend’s Scoop, the Ramones’ Subterranean Jungle, and Styx’s Kilroy Was Here (lead sentence: “This is a crucial time for Styx and Journey, and they know it”).

    It also had this disclaimer about the meaning of star ratings: “They are meant to be considered in a general sense: i.e., records with the same number of stars may not necessarily be equal in merit.”

  3. Ivan Says:

    “resourse to the law” is the gunner’s dream about the post-war era. everyone would act accordingly to the law. “you have no recourse to the law anymore” means you can’t refer to the law since everyone’s kinda dead. but more importantly it signifies the death of the gunner’s dream

  4. Willdigg Says:

    I think Kurt Loder’s quote is spot on. Try to name another popular artist, in the art rock genre, since Dylan’s ‘Masters of War’ that has
    “…unleashed upon the world political order a moral contempt so corrosively convincing, or a life-loving hatred so bracing and brilliantly sustained.” (And remember this was 1983)

    ‘Recourse to the Law’

  5. Dave Says:

    Recourse to the Law is what the Gunner’s Dream was about, so it’s central to the album.

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