"It was dark all around,
there was frost in the ground
when the tigers broke free."
"When the Tigers Broke Free" is a Pink Floyd song written by Roger Waters about the death of his father, Eric Fletcher Waters, during World War II. Waters wrote it when he wrote The Wall, intending it to be on the album as part of the central character's narrative. In a 1984 interview, Waters said the rest of the band protested its inclusion on the album because it was taken directly out of Waters's life and would thus imprint too much of his personal experience on the character.
"And no one survived from
the Royal Fusiliers Company C."
The song was, however, included in the film version of The Wall that was released in 1982. Whereas the "Pink" character's father's death was referenced on the album, his ensuing single-parent childhood and relationship with his mother was more prominent. By including the song, and related scenes, in the film the focus shifts somewhat to include the effects of the father's death on the son. In that sense, one might say that the film version was more directly autobiographical of Waters than the album.
"They were all left behind,
most of them dead,
the rest of them dying."
The song was later included on Echoes, the best-of compilation released in 2001. It was not included in the 1990 performance of The Wall at Potsdamer Platz, nor does Waters include it in his more recent tour performances of the album. (He tends to perform it as released, with some minor adjustments.)
The orchestral accompaniment to the song is a far cry from the band's progressive rock stylings. You can give it a listen here. It is haunting and sad, and bitingly critical of the strategic decisions that led to the deaths of the elder Waters's entire company.
But it's mostly a song about a little boy whose father went to war and never came home.
"And that's how the High Command
took my daddy from me."
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