Have a Cigar by Pink Floyd
The third song on Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, is the cynical and deeply socially critical Have a Cigar. The context of the song is Roger Waters’ feeling of being exploited by the music industry as a money making machine. The opening line highlights the method of seducing and recruiting the band into their plan:
Come in here, dear boy, have a cigar. You’re gonna go far.
From the point of view of thinking about wellbeing I think this song raises an interesting question relating to the thin dividing line between critical cultural awareness and crippling paranoia. In this instance, are the music industry officials just doing their job and being kind and encouraging, or are they just offering platitudes to get what they want regardless of the impact on the band?
I think this is a question we also constantly face. Are we being paranoid and conspiratorial when we question the motivation of those with power and influence over our lives and livelihoods or, are we being critical self and socially aware? Are we looking after ourselves or just the interests of others? The song poses some interesting points which might help us to decide.
In the first place, are compliments we might be offered genuine encouragement or platitudes to get us on side? Some of the compliments in the song certainly seem to fall into the latter:
You’re never gonna die … I’ve always had a deep respect and I mean that most sincere. The band is just fantastic, that is really what I think, oh, by the way, which one’s Pink?
There is an unrealistic (never gonna die) and insincere (which one is pink) quality to these compliments. I think when we feel this lack of authenticity in what someone is saying to us it is right to question their motive. Then there is the ‘it’s all about what you do aspect’:
You’re gonna make it if you try …You’re gonna get an album out, you owe it to the people … if we all pull together as a team.
Whilst the industry is still in control, they are presented as equal partners in a team. Yet, in reality, it’s all about the band working hard and remembering they owe it to others to do so. I think when we are encouraged to act based on our debt to others it should start to raise questions. This is further exacerbated by the presentation that whilst we are part of a team, what really counts is only our action and not the action of the other people also involved.
So, what I take from this song is a critical framework for deciding whether other people are really working with us for our joint mutual benefit, or taking advantage of us:
- Who maintains the balance of power in the relationship? Is it really joint?
- Are compliments realistic and intended to help us grow, or to keep us under control?
- Will the workload, burden, and responsibility be shared?
I think in these times of social challenges, these are important questions for us to keep at the forefront of our minds.
Need to recover control over your life? Why not consider booking an appointment with the author, Dr Dave Wood?