Songwriting & Musical Deconstruction Of David Gilmour's 'In Any Tongue'
'Rattle That Lock' graced our ears in 2015 after the long wait of nine years. This was the fourth solo album by the legendary Pink Floyd singer and frontman Sir David Gilmour. The album peaked at number 5 on the Billboard for five weeks in October 2015.
One of the tracks that stands out in the album other than 'The Girl In a Yellow Dress' is 'In Any Tongue'. While the former relies heavily on the use of jazz to tell the tale of a woman and a man eyeing each other in a bar, the latter presents an emotional story through its lyrics and music alike.
Lyrical Breakdown of David Gilmours' 'In Any Tounge'
The first verse, “Home and done, it’s just begun. His heart weighs more, more than it ever did before,” is about a soldier who has returned from a military tour.
Referencing the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder that many soldiers go through after witnessing countless human suffering, the song further explains the situation of a warzone in the second chorus:
How am I to see you when my faith stands in the way
And the wailing is long done
How am I to know you with a joystick in my hands
When the call to arms had begun
Here, the lyrics point to an analogy that these young boys are forced to treat people with complex backgrounds with a narrowed-down 'friend or foe' mentality. The soldier expresses his helplessness (in the chorus) about the actions he should take on-duty as per the orders.
The conversation-like aspect throughout the song is something that adds more charm to an already flawless piece of music. The song's chorus picks up as an answer to the verse as if they are conversing.
David Gilmour, in his interview with The Sun, has shed further light on the essence of the song.
"I can't imagine what goes through their minds when they get home, whether they're convinced of the correctness of what they're doing or whether they have some regrets," Gilmour explained.
"They're brilliant words by Polly [Samson, Lyricist]. The pain, the sorrow, the regrets are everywhere for everyone on every side of this multi-sided coin," the legendary vocalist/guitarist related.
Musical Breakdown Of 'In Any Tounge'
The song's musical tone starts out in the C-minor so that it picks up a desolate, melancholic tone that reflects the current struggles of the characters involved.
Call and response is a very useful tool in songwriting, and Gilmour pulls it off beautifully by shifting to the F minor in the chorus which gives the song the required pickup. He then makes use of the 'IV' and the 'VI' chords that revolve around A-flat major.
Since the song starts on C-minor, the chords in the chorus serve the purpose of giving it a crescendo-like effect before going to E-flat major and taking us back home to C-minor.
The chorus compels the listener to imagine the war veteran lamenting and trying to explain his discomforts to the narrator.
The guitar solo at the end by Gilmour reflects these feelings of the veteran which fades out—perhaps making a statement of the fading cries of these veterans and the innocent whose life the war has destroyed.
Did you know: Most of the lyrics in the album were written by Gilmour’s wife and long time collaborator, Polly Samson.