There are several excellent alternate versions of “Outside The Wall”, each with its own feel, including one with a snippet from one of the original demo tracks.
“Outside The Wall” is a quiet track which bookends the beginning and end of The Wall album. The theme quietly fades in as the sounds of Pink’s wall being torn down fades out.
The music is soft; a clarinet and a concertina provide the music bed. Waters sing-speaks the lyrics flatly and matter-of-factly while they are quietly sung by an unnamed children’s choir from New York behind. The song ends and a couple of beats later, starts again only to cut off mid-phrase. A second before it cuts off, someone says “Isn’t this where….” The phrase finishes at the very beginning of the album in the quiet snippet of “Outside The Wall” that precedes “In The Flesh?” and its explosive opening. There, the phrase “… we came in?” closes the loop.
Other than Roger Waters, none of the band performs on the album version. Larry Williams plays the clarinet, Frank Marrocco plays the concertina, and the mandolin is played by Trevor Veitch.
After the previous hour and a half of bared feelings and musical gut punch, “Outside The Wall” quietly ends the work on a more positive (less dour?) note. Roger Waters explains:
“That final song is saying, “Right, well that was it, you’ve seen it now. That’s the best we can do, really. And that wasn’t actually us. This is us. That was us performing a piece of theatre about the things that it was about and we do like you really.” I mean we do need that human contact, that’s just making a little bit of human contact at the end of the show.”
In most other interviews done after the release of The Wall, Roger Waters has otherwise dodged or flat out refused to explain the meaning of the “Outside The Wall”.
“Isn’t this where… we came in?” explained
This essentially implies that The Wall album is a cycle — a story that repeats itself, either with Pink or in life in general. It implies that Pink may be trapped in a loop or, more broadly, that building “walls” is something that people do to themselves; it’s a cycle that keeps going, a loop that repeats. On the surface, it’s a reference to a line from the song “The Trial” where Pink asks “There must have been a door there in the wall, When I came in”.
It also might be related to the cinema at the time. When the album was first released, there were many more local, single-screen cinemas than there are today. At these local houses, it was acceptable for patrons to seat themselves in the auditorium when they arrived, which may have been between show times. It wasn’t unheard of for moviegoers to arrive in the middle of a film and leave at about the same time during the next screening of the film. One might say at that time, “Isn’t this where we came in?” I once saw that on an episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Other versions of Outside The Wall
The Wall album is the only release that uses this cycle. The film opens in a hotel with Vera Lynn’s “The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot” in the background. It then moves on to battlefield scenes and “When The Tigers Broke Free, Part I”. “Outside The Wall” only appears at the end of the film.
The Pink Floyd live shows opened with an audio collage where Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again” was abruptly cut off before the surrogate band opened the show with “In The Flesh?”.
Roger Waters The Wall opened with audio from the film Spartacus. Right before the band starts “In The Flesh?”, a live solo trumpet played a few opening notes from “Outside The Wall” offstage. While this bookends the show, it doesn’t quite give it the same cyclical effect that the album does.
Pink Floyd The Wall movie wraps up with a 3’40” version where Roger Waters sings the lyrics over music played by the National Philharmonic Orchestra and the Pontarddulais Male Choir. This version also includes a snippet of the theme from the track “It’s Never too Late”, a song originally written and recorded for The Wall but cut before the final production demo of August 12, 1979. “It’s Never Too Late” was later reworked and the melody was incorporated into the second section of “Southampton Dock” which later appeared on the album The Final Cut. 
In a 1982 interview around the time of the film’s release, Roger Waters hints that he may have preferred “the much less ironic version of “Outside The Wall” which finishes the movie….” I think the longer movie track is a good denouement that works very well within the context of the film, but I prefer the softer, simpler, cyclical album version. I thought the tone of the album version was very straightforward and “life goes on.” For me, the album version is a quiet, serene outro which helps to bring the listener down from the previous hour and a half of musical and emotional chaos.
There are several versions of demos on the Immersion edition and they are somewhat ironic, maybe even a little snarky and sardonic.
Early Working Versions
According to production notes and early demos, an early working title for “Outside The Wall” was “Bleeding Hearts”. In an early band production demo from January 9, 1979, “Bleeding Hearts” was slotted to open Side 3 followed by “Is There Anybody Out There?”. By the March 22 production demo, it had been moved to the end of Side 4, after “Trial by Puppet”.
A few sources say that “The Buskers” is another early working title for the track, but so far, I’m unable to corroborate this. According to records of the recording session, recording for both “The Buskers” and “Outside The Wall” was done during the same 16-hour recording session on October 23, 1979 at Producers Workshop in Los Angeles.
“The Thin Ice”, the unreleased “It’s Never Too Late”, “The Final Cut” — each of these tracks at one point was under consideration to close out The Wall. Atom Heart Soundscapes uploaded their own rebuilt mix of The Wall to Soundcloud (how this got past their copyright police I don’t know). While overall I don’t feel is as complete a rebuild as possible, they have created an interesting alternate ending by editing together the three songs, along with the film version of “Outside The Wall” to give a good idea of what the ending of the album could have sounded like. The magic happens at about 1:47:00 into the mix.
What Got Cut
- Nothing. There are several alternate versions.
Pink Floyd The Wall movie (1982). Pink Floyd The Wall movie wraps up with a much longer 3’40” rerecorded version where Roger Waters sings the lyrics over music played by the National Philharmonic Orchestra and the Pontarddulais Male Choir. The music bed is played by a small horn ensemble and not a full orchestral version. Instead of a children’s choir singing the lyrics along with Waters, the Male Choir provides background vocals and harmony. This version also includes a snippet of the theme from “It’s Never too Late”, a song originally written and recorded for The Wall but cut late in production.
Is There Anybody Out There?. The official live album of the original The Wall tour in 1980. Live versions of all songs. Many of them are extended or have some of the bits that were cut from the original studio LP of The Wall. Here, “Outside The Wall” clocks in at 4’28”, but much of that is audience applause at the conclusion of the song. This recording of the track features a beginning and an end and is performed by all band personnel in The Wall Live show. More from Wikipedia:
The stage performances of The Wall ended with “Outside the Wall” after “The Trial”, where the performers came walking over the stage in front of the now demolished wall, playing acoustic instruments and singing the vocal tracks. Waters played clarinet, and recited the lyrics, while the backing singers sang the lyrics in harmony. David Gilmour played mandolin, Richard Wright played accordion, Willie Wilson played tambourine, Andy Bown played 12-string acoustic guitar, and Snowy White (replaced by Andy Roberts for the 1981 shows), Peter Wood and (unusually) Nick Mason played 6-string acoustic guitars. A similar format was used for the track during Waters’ 2010-2013 tour, The Wall Live, including the appearance of Gilmour and Mason reprising their roles from the original performances.
Pink Floyd The Wall: Immersion edition – Work In Progress. An early, rough, bare version from pre-release production demo tapes made by the band. The demo versions include a very early version from Roger Waters’ original demo tape as well as two band demo versions. The demo versions sound more sarcastic, even mean-spirited, than the final version on the album and subsequent versions.
The Immersion edition also contains a nicely fleshed-out version of “It’s Never Too Late”, one of the previously unreleased tracks that almost closed out The Wall instead.
Last updated: August 10, 2017