Young Lust

[David Gilmour]
I am just a new boy,
A stranger in this town.
Where are all the good times?
Who's gonna show this stranger around?
Ooooh, I need a dirty woman.
Ooooh, I need a dirty girl.
Will some woman in this desert land
Make me feel like a real man?
Take this rock and roll refugee
Oooh, baby set me free.
Ooooh, I need a dirty woman.
Ooooh, I need a dirty girl.

Song In A Sentence:

Pink becomes a rock star and throws himself headlong into the hedonism of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.


B ounding behind “Empty Spaces” on the album and “What Shall We Do Now?” in the movie, “Young Lust” bursts onto the scene as “a pastiche of any young rock and roll band out on the road” (Waters, 1979 interview). The music is so vibrantly cliché and the vocals so infectious that the song, while lampooning the sexually driven, big-guitar-rock songs and bands of the time, transcends its mold and becomes a lively entity unto itself. Although Waters’ original song recounted the singer’s cautious sexual exploits after school, “hanging around outside porno movies and dirty bookshops,” the collaboration of Waters, Gilmour, and Ezrin quickly turned the song into a rollicking melody recounting, narratively speaking, Pink’s newfond (sexual) freedom after leaving his mother’s care as well as that after becoming a certified rock star (Waters, 1979 interview). Coming off the series of childhood flashback songs, nearly all characterized by personal repression, there’s little wonder as to why Pink explodes into his new personage. In terms of album chronology, it hasn’t been long since he left behind his overprotective mother, his school, and the life he knew, all of which he felt unjustly suppressed his individuality. In the total absence of any boundaries whatsoever, and with his newfound power as a celebrity , Pink recklessly embraces all that he was never allowed to experience. As the cliché goes – appropriate considering the purposefully stereotypical nature of the song – Pink immerses himself completely within sex, drugs, and rock and roll. (We never do find out many of the particulars of Pink’s transition into stardom – how he was discovered, whether it was a sort of overnight fame, whether it was fairly soon after he’d left his childhood home or if he struggled at it for years. I suppose such particulars are beside the point.)



Though the song is relatively simple in terms of narrative, the very style that the band uses to convey the message contributes to the deeper undertones of the album. It’s interesting that Waters described the song as a pastiche – a literary imitation usually for the sake of satire. Some artists have been known to use pastiche to criticize a certain type or genre of artform without blatantly attacking it. To use a literary example, many of the chapters of James Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses parody other writers, books, and cultural trends of the time in an attack on what Joyce arguably saw as the degeneration of intellectual thought and literature. Although Joyce never mentions a specific writer or book in these parodic pastiches, his aim is nearly unmistakable. So, too, is the aim of Pink Floyd’s “Young Lust,” a parody of every rocker who has used his celebrity to hedonistic ends, whose ego is as large as his image, and whose only care is the pursuit of carnal pleasure. And yet there is more to the technique than sheer parody. The very fact that the song is an imitation of popular rock music of the 1970’s reinforces Pink’s lack of individuality at this time in his life. Up until now, personal and social forces have done their best to mold him into a model citizen void of all traces of personal distinction. As much as he might believe that he’s resisted such forces, his personality is little more than a flimsy mask thanks in part to the internalization of these bricks. Fittingly, the first song of his new independence is so full of rock clichés – the gruff, sexual voice; the catchy, melodic hook; the polished guitar solo – that it comes off more as a schlocky hodgepodge of musical influences rather than a true example of personal expression. It not only recalls popular musical trends at the time, but according to Waters’ 1979 interview with Tommy Vance, the vocals are purposefully reminiscent of an earlier Floyd tune called “the Nile Song.” Pink is not just a mere shadow of 70’s rock and roll in general, but he’s a shadow of his creators’ earlier music as well. Even the persona he fashions through his revolt isn’t so much one developed via self actualization, but by a simple embracing of the very opposite of what he was told to do. In such a light, when Pink sings repeatedly that he needs “a dirty woman,” one must wonder if this is, indeed, an expression of “young lust,” or rather an unconscious response to his mother swearing not to let “anyone dirty get through” only a few songs earlier.

Ironically, this song that is ostensibly about Pink’s sexual independence concludes with an emasculating phone call that turns the tables on his implied promiscuity. The relative timeline of the narrative is rather ambiguous – if “Young Lust” takes place soon after Pink leaves his childhooh home, are we to assume that this phone call is a flashforward in time to when Pink is nearly fully isolated behind his wall? Or was his wall really nearly complete so soon after his leaving, implying that he had married early and was out carousing with groupies while his wife sat at home? Whatever the case may be, the song / phone call placement further establishes the link in Pink’s mind between femininity and personal betrayal.



Contrary to the implications of the songs’s album position – those involving a sudden burst of sexual exploration after years of repression – its position in the movie after Pink’s discovery of his wife’s infidelity casts it in an ironic, if not altogether retaliatory, light. In a song about the sexual exploits of a young rock star, Pink himself is relatively absent from the majority of the hedonistic goings-on depicted in the song’s movie scenes. Instead, we’re treated to a long sequence showing the lengths a group of young women will go to in order to get backstage access after one of Pink’s concerts – scenes that, as Waters states on the DVD commentary, “serious[ly] romanticize” the life of a rock star. Champagne bottles spew in none-too-subtle innuendo; flesh flashes in exchange for backstage passes; Pink’s manager (played by Bob Hoskins) takes a big, carnal bite from half a pineapple. It’s only after the groupies weave their way through the maze of security guards, road crew and all around band leeches – all of whom are having the good time promised in the song’s lyrics- that we finally get our first glimpse of the rock star himself, watching all action from inside his personal trailer. Not only is he physically separated from the party, but his absence from the majority of the song’s footage creates a physical separation between the viewer and the character, one that quite possibly parallels Pink’s feelings of abandonment and detachment after having discovered his wife’s unfaithfulness. Like the revelers at the party, we only see Pink through the physical barrier of the window pane, a symbol of separation further compounded by the dark sunglasses he wears. Even when he does emerge from his trailer at the end of the song, he quickly retreats back into it once he discovers that the groupie he’s had his eye on is just another faceless fan in search of an autograph and a wild story. The young fan is more persistent than one might expect, trying to take off his glasses (attempting to “find out what’s behind [his] cold eyes”?), and subsequently following him into his trailer and eventually back to his hotel room, even after Pink has blatantly expressed his exasperation with her. That he doesn’t throw her out immediately, however, at least implies that perhaps he had entertained thoughts of doing something more with her back at his hotel room…maybe a bit of retaliation for being made a cuckold. Some have further noted that the groupie bears some bit of resemblance to his wife, possibly explaining why Pink seemed drawn to her in the first place. Consequently, her determination might serve as yet another extension in Pink’s mind of the wife’s persistent attempts to break through his wall and connect with him. As for Pink’s true intentions with the groupie, they’re as masked as his shaded eyes, left to the audience to draw their own conclusions. Was he taking her back to his room for a bit of sexual revenge? Or to finally open up to this spousal substitute just as his real wife had been trying to get him to do for years? Or was he, in fact, knowingly leading her into the trap of one of his “turns,” using her as a symbolic warning for those who keep trying to peer behind his wall? Considering that the next two songs oscillate between retribution, regret, self-pity and rage, Pink’s motive very well could be all of the above.


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