“Teacher, Teacher” is an original song from The Wall demos, but was cut in mid-production. It was later rewritten, rerecorded and all-around improved, renamed and used on The Final Cut as “The Hero’s Return”.
“Teacher, Teacher” was one of original songs intended for The Wall and goes back to Roger Waters’ original demo cassette, Bricks In The Wall. It was recorded by the band but was cut fairly early in production, making it one of the very few leftovers that was actually fleshed out and recorded for The Wall sessions.
The teacher depicted in The Final Cut is meant to be the same character as The Teacher from The Wall. Waters wanted to give the character a backstory and more depth, but unfortunately that plot line did not make it into The Wall.
After the first production demo from January 9, 1979 , the track was replaced with “The Happiest Days Of Our Lives” which at the time was running over a minute shorter at 1 minute 44 seconds. Because the running time of “Teacher, Teacher” was 2 minutes 50 seconds, this one change saved over a minute on a side which would eventually run too long for the constraints of the 12″ LP format. Even now, Side 1 clocks in at over 20 minutes.
Roger Waters said that they made the choice because both tracks tell basically the same story. To cut time, this track would have been the more logical choice to delete.
On Waters’ original Wall demo, it is sequenced after “Another Brick In The Wall: Education” (which would later become “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2”) and before an early, slower, bluesy version of “Young Lust”.
A version that was recorded by the band appears on the album’s first production demo from January 9, 1979 on side one. There it was moved up in the track list between “Goodbye Blue Sky” and “Another Brick In The Wall: Education”. By the second production demo, it had been replaced by “Happiest Days Of Our Lives”. In 2011, the band demo was finally released as part of the bonus material in The Wall Immersion edition box set and Deluxe editions. Even though it is one of the earlier tracks recorded, the song is fairly-well developed.
The voice alternates between verses in the song. The first verse is sung in the voice of the teacher and the second verse is sung as the voice of Pink as a schoolboy.
Schoolboy, schoolboy, did you hear what I said?
How am I supposed to make you see the light?
It’s hard enough to sleepwalk through the day
Without some creepy little boy like you
Bombarding my lonely shell
Glimpses of half open doors
Gleams in the night that I might well have followed myself
Teacher, teacher, you might as well be dead
All those years you tried to suck my brain away
It was hard enough to drag myself from bed
Without some crazy lunatic like you
Bombarding my still soft shell
Sticks and stones that you found lying around
In the pile of unspeakable feelings you found
When you turn back the stone
Turned over the stone
Of your own disappointment
“Teacher, Teacher” has never been incorporated into any of The Wall live performances.
The Hero’s Return
“Teacher Teacher” was later rewritten, renamed and used on The Final Cut where it appears as “The Hero’s Return”. Musically, this version is far better than the slower, less-polished original. It shares musical themes and beats from The Wall and definitely sounds like one of the “spare bricks.”
Musically, this version is a better track with more polish than the slower, rougher original demo. The finished track realizes the potential of the original with a drive and an edge that is lacking from the demo version. That is not to say that “Teacher, Teacher” would not have eventually been polished and produced to sound like “The Hero’s Return” — many of those early demo tracks went through significant changes throughout the sessions.
The album version of “The Hero’s Return” is written in the voice of the teacher and deals more with the bitterness and isolation of someone who has seen combat and less about his frustrations with his students at school. Here the song fleshes out a deeper backstory including problems at home and memories of the war. This shortened version fits well into The Final Cut narrative, and it is more difficult to see how this version would fit into the story of The Wall.
The Hero’s Return (Part 1)
Jesus, Jesus, what’s it all about?
Trying to clout these little ingrates into shape.
When I was their age all the lights went out.
There was no time to whine or mope about.
And even now part of me flies over
Dresden at angels one five.
Though they’ll never fathom it behind my
Sarcasm desperate memories lie.
Sweetheart sweetheart are you fast asleep? Good.
‘Cause that’s the only time that I can really speak to you.
And there is something that I’ve locked away
A memory that is too painful
To withstand the light of day.
When we came back from the war the banners and
Flags hung on everyone’s door.
We danced and we sang in the street and
The church bells rang.
But burning in my heart
My memory smolders on
Of the gunners dying words on the intercom.
Teacher, Teacher and a Final Cut rarity
During production of The Final Cut, “The Hero’s Return, Part 2″ was recorded but ultimately unused on the album. The full, combined version, including the additional, previously unreleased verse, was released in 1983 as the B-side of the 7″ and 12” singles of “Not Now John”.
In “The Hero’s Return, Part 2”, The Teacher expresses frustration with the profession of teaching and with his students. Part 2 bears a lot of similarity to “Teacher, Teacher”. It’s contains slightly modified lyrics of the last verse of “Teacher, Teacher” but the voice has been changed from Pink to The Teacher. In production demos, “The Hero’s Return, Part 2” is sequenced between “The Gunner’s Dream” and “Paranoid Eyes” and would have run about 1 minute 21 seconds if it had been included on the album.
The Hero’s Return Part 2
Jesus Christ, I might as well be dead
I can’t see how dangerous
It must feel to me
Training human cogs for the machine
Without some shell-shocked lunatic like me
Bombarding their still soft shells
With sticks and stones
That were lying around
In the pile of unspeakable feelings I’d found
When I turned back the stone
Turned over the stone
Of my own disappointment back home
Restoring “Teacher, Teacher”
Speculation time and what if…?
The complete “The Hero’s Return, Parts 1 & 2” works much better within the narrative of The Wall and becomes a relevant side-story of the Teacher from Side 1. It fits into the story well when sequenced after “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 1” fades out and before the helicopter intro of “The Happiest Days Of Our Lives”. Musically, it sounds like it belongs there.
In the first band production demo, “Teacher, Teacher” is sequenced before “Another Brick In The Wall: Education”. In Roger Waters’ original demo Bricks In The Wall, “Teacher, Teacher” is sequenced after “Education”.
As the running order was still fluid throughout production, I can’t help but think that after “Another Brick, Part 2” is where “Teacher, Teacher” would have ended up had it not been cut. Within the framework of the story, it works very well in that spot. By this time, the damage had been done; the Teacher’s bricks were helping to build the wall. In the sequence of “Happiest Days…” and “Brick, Part 2”, Pink does what many schoolchildren do and in his mind creates an exaggerated scenario for the Teacher where he’s bullied and repressed at home by an overbearing, abusive, psychopathic wife. He appears to direct his frustration and powerlessness at the children he teaches. Pink’s side of this story is told in “The Happiest Days Of Our Lives”. The students react and rebel in “Another Brick, Part 2”.
To me it makes more sense to then have the Teacher tell his side of the story afterwards, where the emotional damage inflicted during his time in combat is actually a big reason for his attitude with the children. He shares his resentment towards the students who did not grow up in wartime and go through the sacrifices and difficulties that imposes. His time in combat built isolating walls of his own which cause problems at home. Restoring “The Hero’s Return” adds this extra insight, pathos, and a little more perspective to the character of the Teacher. It’s an interesting diversion which explores his side-story a little more.
Put it before “Happiest Days” and the result to the narrative is cause and effect. Restore it after “Another Brick, Part 2” and the result is effect and cause. Both placements work well.
I think the combined “The Hero’s Return Parts 1 & 2” better explores the motivations behind the Teacher’s actions and demeanor than “Teacher, Teacher” in its demo form would have done. If “Teacher, Teacher” had not been cut, I honestly think it would have evolved into something similar to “Hero’s Return” anyway.
While debating its inclusion or lack of on The Wall, some have criticized the track for being from the voice of the Teacher rather than being from the voice of Pink. I think the criticism is unwarranted as other voices appear on The Wall as well including Mother in more than one track and the Doctor in “Comfortably Numb”.
Some may find the additional exposition unnecessary saying that it needlessly diverts the storyline away from Pink’s viewpoint and that’s a valid point also. I think an expanded story is better served with the inclusion of “The Hero’s Return”, the “Teacher, Teacher” component. Adding the track is akin to an extended cut of a favorite movie. Not all of the new material may move the story forward, but hopefully it will add more depth and nuance to the overall arc.
What Got Cut
- The entire track
Pink Floyd The Wall – Work In Progress from Pink Floyd The Wall: Immersion edition. An early version from pre-release production demo tapes made by the band. The sound quality on this release is very good. The track is fairly well developed here with drums, vocals, and most instrumentation in place. This version has a bit of polish for an early band recording. I have never found “Teacher, Teacher” on any of the ROIOs available. See above for the lyrics.
The Final Cut (1983). Rewritten, renamed, rerecorded and used on The Final Cut where it appears as “The Hero’s Return”. Musically, this reworked version is far better than the slower, original version, with more drive, angst and intensity that’s lacking from the original from the music to the vocal performance. It shares a similar key and musical phrasing and beats from The Wall and definitely sounds like one of the “spare bricks.”
“Not Now John (single version)/The Hero’s Return (Parts I and II)” 7″ single (1983). (4:02) The full version of “Hero’s Return”, including Part II with a previously unreleased third verse. Unfortunately, the US version is pressed on crappy Columbia Records 7″ styrene where the grooves seem to wear out before the stylus drops, especially as the track progresses towards the label. Although this version is excellent, expect a lot of noise from the record itself.
If you can find it, there is a very good UK pressing of the single on better 12″ vinyl. Not only is the quality of the vinyl much better than the US single version, but the 12″ single is mastered at 45 RPMs giving it a longer, better groove, good sound all the way through, and less distortion.
Last updated: August 14, 2017