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"In the Flesh?" (working title, "The Show?") is a song by the English rock band Pink Floyd,[1] released on their 1979 album, The Wall.[2] The title is a reference to the band's 1977 In the Flesh Tour, during which Roger Waters, in frustration, spat at a fan attempting to climb the fence separating the band from the crowd.

"In the Flesh?"
Song by Pink Floyd
from the album The Wall
PublishedPink Floyd Music Publishers Ltd
Released30 November 1979 (UK)
8 December 1979 (US)
RecordedJanuary – November 1979
GenreHard rock, progressive rock
LabelHarvest (UK)
Columbia (US)
Songwriter(s)Roger Waters
Producer(s)Bob Ezrin, David Gilmour, James Guthrie, Roger Waters

Waters has said that the main chord sequence and melody was not initially part of The Wall, but was borrowed from The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, which Waters wrote at the same time as The Wall, but recorded as a solo release.



The majority of the song is in the key of A Major and its time signature is 6/8. The arrangement is highly dynamic and dramatic. The first few seconds of the song are very quiet, and feature the melody of the song "Outside the Wall", which is the album's closing track. The recording begins abruptly in mid-song, and a man quietly speaks the phrase "... we came in?" At the end of the album, the recording of "Outside the Wall" cuts off abruptly, as the man says "Isn't this where..." This demonstrates a cyclical nature to the concept of the album, much in the way that The Dark Side of the Moon opens and closes with the sound of a heartbeat.

The quiet melody of "Outside the Wall" is interrupted in mid-phrase, as the main body of the song starts loudly, with a succession of power chords on organ and distorted guitars. A low-pitched melody begins, at a slow pace, with rapid snare drum fills. This introduction is the first occasion where the album's leitmotif is heard, with a pattern of D-E-F-E in the guitars. The introduction lasts for more than a minute before the singing starts, and the tone shifts to gentle keyboards and male doo-wop harmony in the background. Following the lyrics, the loud guitar melody returns. During this outro, Roger Waters shouts out stage directions, and a Stuka dive-bomber[3] can be heard. The final sound in the track is that of a baby crying.

Later in the album, a longer song, titled "In the Flesh" (without the question mark), uses the same music track, with additional parts and new lyrics.


"In the Flesh?" introduces the story of Pink, a rock star. It begins with the opening of a rock concert. The lyrics inform us that despite his outward appearances, things are much different "behind these cold eyes" and that if the listener wants to know what's really going on with Pink, you'll "just have to claw your way through this disguise." The song also subtly indicates that Pink's father is killed in a war, with the sound effect of the dive-bomber. Finally, we hear a baby crying, indicating that Pink and his mother are left without a father and husband, respectively (this is expanded upon two songs later, in "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 1").

Live performancesEdit

During the original tour supporting The Wall, the song would be performed onstage by the backing musicians wearing masks to make them look like the real members of Pink Floyd, playing on the lines "Tell me, is something eluding you sunshine? Is this not what you expected to see? You'll just have to claw your way through this disguise", as well as the references to a "surrogate band" in the song's reprise later on.

In Waters' 2010–13 tour, The Wall Live, he performs the song himself, in the guise of the megalomaniacal dictator that his character Pink becomes at the climax of the show.

Film versionEdit

The beginning of the film shows Pink sitting in a locked hotel room. A housekeeper knocks repeatedly, then uses her keys to let herself in. While this happens, Pink's mind is flashing back to a concert, in which a massive crowd of eager concertgoers manage to break down a chained door to the concert venue, and rush inside, trampling each other in the process. The film shows quick cuts of rioting fans and a violent police response, interspersed with scenes of soldiers being bombed in the fields of war. A German Ju 87 Stuka bombs a bunker, in which Pink's father is killed.

The song is performed by Pink (Bob Geldof) in his dictator garb, with the set decorated like a Nazi rally, an insignia of two crossed hammers replacing the swastika. Geldof recorded his own vocals over the original Pink Floyd music track, replacing Waters' vocals.

The film version also uses a mix in which the song's intro was longer, with the E minor power chord riff, and a short David Gilmour solo, repeating twice. This was edited out of the record due to time constraints, but the song has been performed full length in most live performances.



Personnel per Fitch and Mehon.[4]



  • Fitch, Vernon. The Pink Floyd Encyclopedia (3rd edition), 2005. ISBN 1-894959-24-8.
  • Fitch, Vernon; Mahon, Richard (2006), Comfortably Numb: A History of "The Wall": Pink Floyd 1978–1981 (1st US hardcover ed.), St Petersburg, Florida: PFA Publishing, ISBN 978-0-9777366-0-7.


  1. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X.
  2. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2004). The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate Books. p. 1177. ISBN 1-84195-551-5.
  3. ^ Fitch & Mahon 2006, p. 71
  4. ^ Fitch, Vernon and Mahon, Richard, Comfortably Numb — A History of The Wall 1978-1981, 2006, p.71
  5. ^ Full Albums: Pink Floyd's The Wall, Pt. 1, Cover Me Songs.

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