A short piano intro from The Thin Ice was cut from the album. And like the “Bricks” theme, this track almost became a second recurring theme for the The Wall.
In contrast to the spectacle, anger, and chaos that is the album-opener “In The Flesh?”, “The Thin Ice” opens quietly with nothing but a few seconds of the sound of baby Pink crying.
In an album already filled with song cycles, reprises, leitmotifs and recurring themes (the “Bricks” theme, the worms, etc.), “The Thin Ice” almost ended up as part of a larger bookend of The Wall.
Parts of “The Thin Ice” go all the way back to Roger Waters’ original Bricks In The Wall demo tape. On it, what would become the instrumental second half of the song was originally referred to as “instrumental theme” and was used to close out the album. It was sequenced there until the second band production demo where “Outside The Wall” was moved from the opening of Side 3 to close out the album.
In separate interviews at the time of the album’s release, Waters talked about the song,
“In fact at the end of “In the Flesh”, you hear somebody shouting “roll the sound effects” da-da-da, and you hear the sound of bombers, so it gives you some indication of what’s happening…. So it’s a flashback, we start telling the story. In terms of this, it’s about my generation.”
He expanded in a later interview with DJ Jim Ladd,
“I think it’s about how parents start inducing, almost inject, their own fears and worries into their children from a very early age. Particularly in my case when they had just been through a world war or something like that — we all go through devastating experiences and we tend to pass them onto our children when they are very young — I suspect.”
The track is album-only and was never released as a single or a B-side.
What Got Cut
- An 8-bar piano intro in 6/8 time was cut from the album version. This was restored in the film version.
- The sustain of the song’s last note fades out fairly quickly as the song segues into “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 1”. It holds a little longer in the movie soundtrack and there’s about an extra second or so of the note before it fades out.
Different versions of the intro appeared throughout production. In the first band production demo, the extended intro also had an organ and a brief guitar solo from David Gilmour, making the intro sound more solemn and church-like. This version was missing the sound of crying baby.
A later production demo featured the sound of a squadron of World War II-era bombers crossfading into the sound of a baby crying — not quite the harsh, shocking effect ultimately used. A brief remnant of the extended intro can be heard as the track fades in.
Pink Floyd The Wall movie (1982). The 8-bar extended piano intro has been restored, minus the sound of baby Pink crying (this was moved to the intro of “Goodbye Blue Sky” for the film).
The film version also features a slightly different mix and additional keyboards than the album version. For the film soundtrack, Roger Waters’ vocals have been given more presence by making them slightly louder and moved to the center of the stereo mix. Additional 1950’s-style piano flourishes have been added behind his vocals.
The final note of the song holds a little longer and it’s clean for an additional second or so before the track crossfades into “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 1”
Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980-81. The official live album of the original The Wall tour in 1980. Live versions of all songs. The extended piano intro is included here but is shorter at only 4 bars in 6/8 time.
For the live shows, the first part of the “instrumental interlude” — the second half of the song — has been extended 4 bars and includes some extra piano riffs from Richard Wright. This extra phrase never appeared in any demo versions of the full “The Thin Ice”, but could be heard when the track was the “instrumental interlude” that closed out the album.
Last update: May 13, 2017