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  • A few seconds at the fade-in of the track. Extended versions were created for the live shows and the film.

Tear down the wall! Co-Producer Bob Ezrin shared a writing credit for helping to transform this track from a dark, sinister song into a big, over-the-top theatrical finale.


“The Trial” is a manifestation of Pink’s internal self-examination as he judges himself by confronting (or being confronted by) many of his past “bricks.” Pink’s wall had become too high, too impenetrable. A lifetime of self-imposed, growing isolation from the ones who love him had finally become too much of a load to bear. Many of the characters who helped build the wall throughout the course of the album make a final appearance here. Verses are sung in the voices of The Teacher, The Wife, and Mother as they present their “evidence” before the court. Conspicuously absent is Pink’s Father who never had a proper voice in the album even though he was one of the wall’s most fundamental bricks.

“The Trial” is a big, operatic, over-the-top piece that is the musical and narrative climax of the album. It’s a critical piece in the structure of The Wall and goes all the way back to Waters’ original demo, Bricks In The Wall. From inception throughout production, it was called “Trial by Puppet”. The title was changed during its final mixdown around October 29, 1979, shortly before the album was sent out for mastering.

Although a very early version exists on the original demo, the music was mostly rewritten by Bob Ezrin with the immediate intention to record it with an orchestra, although there are band demos of the song with synthesizers. The score is mostly orchestral, arranged and conducted by Michael Kamen. The music itself was written as an homage to the early 20th century operettas of Kurt Weill & Bertholdt Brecht. Give The Threepenny Opera a listen to hear the influence.

The song suddenly switches gears about two-thirds of the way through with the addition of Gilmour’s buzzing chainsaw of a guitar and Nick Mason’s steady, march-like drums which come crashing in as The Judge makes his appearance. The repeating eight-note phrase of the main “Bricks” theme heard throughout the album dominates here to amplify the anger and intensity as The Judge pronounces his sentence. The theme continues behind the rest of the track and through its extended fade-out.

A short 35 second snippet of Waters’ original demo recording of “Trial by Puppet” can be heard on the Work In Progress disc on the Immersion edition. Musically, it is much different from the version that was released. The overall tone ranges from dark and sinister to downright surreal. Rather than being an underlying leitmotif within the music, the “Bricks Theme” is more prevalent throughout as the verses are sung as a reprise of the iconic eight-note musical phrase.

The Wall, the trial, Kurt Weill, Bob Ezrin

“The Trial” lyrics as printed on the inner sleeve of The Wall LP

A small lyric change was made at the last minute after the album artwork has been sent out for print. In the last verse of the album version, The Judge says

Since my friend you have revealed your deepest fear,
I sentence you to be exposed before your peers.”

The lyrics printed on the inner sleeve read But my friend you have revealed your deepest fear….” The word “But” was used throughout production. Waters reverted back to it for the original live versions of The Wall. This difference can be heard on Is There Anybody Out There?, the live album.

The climactic vocals of the song were recorded back in London at Pink Floyd’s recording studio where engineer Nick Griffiths had the Brittania Row staff chanting “Tear down the wall!”

pink floyd, the wall, movie, the trial, wife

The Wife during “The Trial”. Screenshot from Pink Floyd The Wall movie


Alternate Versions

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 which were cut from the original studio LP. Here, the intro fades in a little sooner underneath “Stop” and you can barely hear an additional 4 bars before starting into the main instrumental intro in earnest.

The entire 32-bar section of the outro with the repeated chants of “Tear down the wall…” repeats once, adding about 25 seconds of length to the track.

Pink Floyd The Wall movie (1982). Featured remixed, reedited and in some cases rerecorded versions of the original album recordings. 16 bars or almost 13 seconds were cut from the instrumental intro of the movie version of “The Trial”.

The outro of the film was extended significantly to accommodate the visual montage that showed onscreen as the chants of “Tear down the wall” slowly fade out. The entire 32-bar phrase of the outro repeats once, then repeats again for another 16 bars before completely fading out, adding over 38 seconds the tail end to the track. Unlike the album and live versions, the wall is destroyed after several seconds of silence in the film version.

The extended outro was not in any of the demo versions and was most likely added to the live version and movie version to heighten the drama and tension of the wall’s destruction.


pink floyd, the wall, movie, the trial, judge

The Judge during “The Trial”. Screenshot from Pink Floyd The Wall movie


Last update: September 9, 2017


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