ROGER WATERS
RADIO KAOS

©1987 Columbia Records.

The Story

Benny is a Welsh coal miner. He is a radio ham. He is 23 years old, married to Molly. They have a son, young Ben, age 4, and a new baby. They look after Benny's twin brother Billy, who is apparently a vegetable. The mine is closed by the market forces. The Male Voice Choir stops singing, the village is dying. One night Benny takes Billy on a pub crawl. Drunk in a brightly-lit shopping mall, Benny vents his anger on a shop window full of multiple TV images of Margaret Thatcher's mocking condescension. In defiance, he steals a cordless phone. Later that night, Benny cavorts dangerously on the parapet of a motorway footbridge, in theatrical protest of the tabloid press. That same night, a cab driver is killed by a concrete block dropped off a similar bridge. The police come to question Benny; he hides the cordless phone under the cushion of Billy's wheelchair.

Billy is different, he can receive radio waves directly without the aid of a tuner; he explores the cordless phone, recognizing its radioness. Benny is sent to prison. Billy feels as if half of him has been cut off. He misses Benny's nightly conversations with radio hams in foreign parts. Molly, unable to cope, sends Billy to stay with his Great Uncle David, who had emigrated to the USA during the war. Much as Billy likes Uncle David and the sunshine and all the new radio in LA, he cannot adjust to the cultural upheaval and the loss of Benny, who for him is 'home'.

Uncle David, now an old man, is haunted by having worked on the Manhattan project during World War II, designing the Atom Bomb, and seeks to atone. He also is a radio ham; he often talks to other hams about the Black Hills of his youth, the Male Voice Choir, about home. He is saddened by the use of telecommunication to trivialise important issues, the soap opera of state. However, Live Aid has decynicised him to an extent. Billy listens to David and hears the truth the old man speaks.

Billy experiments with his cordless phone, he learns to make calls. He accesses computers and speech synthesizers, he learns to speak. Billy makes contact with Jim a DJ at Radio KAOS, a renegade rock station fighting a lone rear guard action against format radio. Billy and Jim become radio friends, Reagan and Thatcher bomb Lybia. Billy perceives this as an act of political "entertainment" fireworks to focus attention away from problems at "home".

Billy has developed his expertise with the cordless phone to the point where he can now control the most powerful computers in the world. He plans an "entertainment" of his own. He simulates nuclear attack everywhere, but de-activates the military capability of "the powers that be" to retaliate. In extremes perceptions change, Panic, comedy, compassion. In a SAC bunker a soldier in a white cravat turns a key to launch the counter attack. Nothing happens; impotently he kicks the console, hurting his foot. He watches the approaching blips on the radar screen. As impact approaches, he thinks of his wife and kids, he puts his fingers in his ears.

Silence. White out. Black out. Lights out. It didn't happen, we're still alive. Billy has drained the earth of power to create his illusion. All over the dark side of the earth, candles are lit. In the pub in Billy's home village in Wales one man starts to sing; the other men join in. The tide is turning.

Billy is home.


Radio Kaos

[Jim:] "This is K.A.O.S.
You and I are listening to KAOS in Los Angeles.
Let's go to the telephones now and take a request."
[Billy:] "Hello, I'm Billy."
[Jim:] "Yes?"
[Billy:] "I hear radio waves in my head."
[Jim:] "You hear radio waves in your head?
Ah! Is there a request that
you have tonight for KAOS?"
Radio waves
Radio waves
Radio waves
He hears radio waves
Radio waves
The atmosphere is thin and cold
The yellow sun is getting old
The ozone overflows with radio waves
AM, FM, weather and news
Our leaders had a frank exchange of views
Are you confused, radio waves
Radio waves
Radio waves
AM radio waves
FM radio waves
Radio waves
Mind-numbing radio waves
Fish-stunning radio waves
Radio waves
Magic Billy in his wheel chair
Is picking up all this stuff in the air
Billy is face to face with outer space
Messages from distant stars
The local police calling all cars
Radio waves
Hear them radio waves
Radio waves
Jesus saves radio
Radio waves
Radio waves
AM radio waves
FM radio waves
All them radio waves
Radio waves
Radio waves
He hears radio waves
Radio waves
Radio waves
Hopeful radio waves
Dopeful radio waves
Radio waves
Russian radio waves
Prussian radio waves
Eastern radio waves
Western radio waves
Testing radio waves
One two
One two
Radio waves
Getting through to you
More code radio waves
Tobacco road radio waves
South to Paloma radio waves
Oklahoma City radio waves
Sitting pretty radio waves
Nitty-gritty radio waves
Radio waves
[Jim:] "Alright, that's a song called Radio Waves.
You are listening to KAOS
In Los Angeles and we've got Billy on the line."
[Billy:] "I'm from the valleys."

Who Needs Information

[Jim:] "You're from the valley?"
[Billy:] "No, Jim you schmuck, the Valleys;
Male voice choirs, Wales." [Jim:] "Ah, you're from Wales!
Now is this sperm or blue-tip?"
[Billy:] "Ha, ha, ha, ha. Very funny Jim."
[Jim:] "Sorry."
[Billy:] "Me and Benny went out."
[Jim:] "Who's Benny?"
Me and Benny went out last night
Looking for fun
Supping ale in the moonlight
Waiting for the dawn to come
Benny pointed at a HiFi shop
He said, hey man, look at all the stuff they've got
How'd you make a have out of a have not
Hmmmm
Who needs information
When you're working underground
Just give me confirmation
We could win a million pounds
Benny climbed up on a footbridge
And he teetered on the parapet
He said can you see the whites of their headlights
Are they coming yet
Who needs information
This high off the ground
Just give me confirmation
We could win a million pounds
Who needs information
When you're living in constant fear
Just give me confirmation
There's some way out of here
Some way out of here
Benny hefted a breeze block
And tried to let go
Got hung up on a tear drop
So me and Benny went home
Who needs information
When you're living in constant fear
Just give me confirmation
There's some way out of here
Some way out of here
Who needs information yeah
When you're living on borrowed time
Just give me confirmation
There will be a winner this time
Who needs information
When you're working underground
Just give me confirmation
We could win a million pounds
Who needs
Who needs
Who needs information
This high off the ground
Just give me confirmation
We could win a million pounds
yeah
[Jim:] "Um. (lights a cigarette)
So your brother's in jail?"

Me or Him

You wake up in the morning
Get something for the pot
Wonder why the sun makes the rocks feel hot
Draw on the walls
Eat
Get laid
Back in the good old days
Then some damn fool invents the wheel
Listen to the whitewalls squeal
You spend all day looking for a parking spot
Nothing for the heart
Nothing for the pot
Benny turned the dial on his Short Wave radio
Oh how he wanted to talk to the people
He wanted his own show
Tune in Moscow
Tune in New York
Listen tot the Welsh kid talk
Communicating like in the good old days
Forgive me father for I have sinned
It was either me or him
And a voice said Benny
You fucked the whole thing up
Benny your time is up
Your time is up
Benny turned the dial on his Short Wave radio
He wanted to talk to the people
He wanted his own show
Tune in Moscow
Tune in New York
Listen to the Welsh kid talk
Communicating like in the good old days
Forgive me Father
[Welsh Policeman:] "Mobile One Two to Central."
For I have sinned
[Welsh Policeman:] "We have a multiple on the A465
between Cwmbran and Cylgoch."
Father it was either me or him
Father can we turn back the clock?
[Welsh Policeman:] "Ambulance, over."
I never meant to drop the concrete block
[Welsh Policeman:] "Roger central, over and out."
Benny turned the dial on his Short Wave radio
He wanted to talk to the people
He wanted his own show
Tune in Moscow
Tune in New York
Listen to the Welsh kid talk
Just like in the good old days
The good old days
[Radio announcer:] "Do you really think Iranian terrorists
Would have taken Americans hostage
If Ronald Reagan were president?
Do you really think the Russians
Would have invaded Afghanistan
If Ronald Reagan were president?
Do you really think third-rate military
Dictators would laugh at America
And burn our flag in contempt
If Ronald Reagan were president?"
[Concerned Citizen:] "Well, it might work!"
[Hostage:] "We as a group do most importantly
Want to beseech President Reagan
And our fellow Americans
To refrain from any form of military
Or violent means as an attempt
No matter how noble or heroic
To secure our freedom."
[Concerned Citizen:] "Sure!
Only it's going to be mighty dangerous
For you, Cassidy
Hoppy's faithful sidekick
Guess you don't know Hopalong Cassidy, mister.
Adventure's his bread
Excitement's his butter
And danger
Why to him that's like
Strawberry jam to top it off."
[Jim:] "This is some live rock and roll at KAOS
Where rock and roll comes out of chaos
And a song called..."

The Powers that Be

The powers that be
They like a tough game
No rules
Some you win
Some you lose
Competition's good for you
They're dying to be free
They're the powers that be
They like a bomb proof cadillac
Air conditioned
Gold taps
Back seat gun rack
Platinum hub caps
They pick horses for courses
They're the market forces
(background : Nice car Jack)
They like order
Make-up
Lime light power
Game shows
Rodeos
Star wars
TV
They're the powers that be
If you see them come
You better run
Run
You better run on home
Sisters of mercy better join your brothers
Put a stop to the soap opera right now
They say the toothless get ruthless
You better run on home
You better run
Run
You better run on home
The powers that be
They like treats
Tricks
Carrots
And sticks
They like fear and loathing
They like sheep's clothing
And blacked-out vans
Blacked-out vans
Contingency plans
They like death or glory
They love a good story
They love a good story
Sisters of mercy better join with your brothers
Put a stop to the soap opera state
They say the toothless get ruthless
Run home before its too late
You better run
Run
You better run on home
You better run
[Billy:] "Goodnight, Jim."
[Jim:] "Goodnight, Billy."
[Uncle David's Great Dane:] "Woof, woof, woof!"
[Paraquat Kelly:] "Bull heads, three red snapper, one pink snapper
And your Pacific coastal trench hosemonster fish."
[Cynthia Fox:] "Ohhh!
At Sky David's juke joint of joy reports
Forty under the console giggle stick ling cod
Twenty-three purple perches
Four sledgehammerhead sharks
And what a surprise
Eightyfour crabs, and no red snappers."
[Paraquat Kelly:] "Hey, and that'll do for the triumphant return
Of the fish report with a beat."
[Jim:] "We think of it as mainstreet
But to the rest of the country
It's Sunset Strip
You're listening to KAOS in Los Angeles."

Sunset Strip

I like staying with my Uncle Dave
And I like playing with his great dane
But I don't fit
I feel alien and strange
Kinda outa range
I like riding in my Uncle's car
Down to the beach where the pretty girls all parade
And movie stars and paparazzi play
The Charles Atlas kicking sand in the face game
And I sit in the canyon with my back to the sea
There's a blood red dragon on a field of green
Calling me back
Back to the Black Hills again
Ooh, ooh
Billy come home
Billy is searching for his native land
Flicking through the stations with the dial in his head
Picking up (background: static)
And a male voice choir on the short wave band
Billy taps out Jim's number on the phone
Sits shaking as he waits for Jim's answering tone
Come on my friend
Speak to me please
The land of my fathers is calling to me
And I sit in the canyon with my back to the sea
There's a blood red dragon on a field of green
Calling me back
Back to the Black Hills again
Ooh, ooh
Billy come home
Come on home
He sits in the canyon with his back to the sea
Sees a blood red dragon on a field of green
He hears a male voice choir singing
Billy come home
Billy, Billy, come home
Come on home
[Californian Weirdo:] "I don't like fish."
[Jim:] "You are listening to KAOS here in Los Angeles."
[Californian Weirdo:] "I don't like fish."
[Jim:] "Yes, we've established that.
Ah! Do you have a request?"
[Californian Weirdo:] "Shell fish
Guppy
Salmon
Shrimp
And crab
And lobster
Flounder
I hate fish
But I think most of all
I hate fresh fish
Like trout
I hate fresh trout
My least-hated, favourite fish would be sole
That way you don't have to see the eyes
Sole has no eyes."
[Jim:] "Oh no!"
[Woman:] "I'd like to be home with my monkey and my dog."
[Jim:] "Thankyou."
[Woman:] "I'd like to be home with my monkey and my dog
I'd like to be home with my monkey and my dog
I'd like to be home with my monkey and my dog
I'd like to be home with my monkey..."
[Jim:] "I don't care
Shut up
Play the record."

Home

[Jim:] "Oh, God!"
[Californian Weirdo:] "Sole has no eyes."
Could be Jerusalem
Or it could be Cairo
Could be Berlin
Or it could be Prague
Could be Moscow
Could be New York
Could be Llanelli
And it could be Warrington
Could be Warsaw
And it could be Moose Jaw
Could be Rome
Everybody got somewhere they call home
When they overrun the defences
A minor invasion put down to expenses
Will you go down to the airport lounge
Will you accept your second class status
A nation of waitresses and waiters
Will you mix their martinis
Will you stand still for it
Or will you take to the hills
It could be clay
And it could be sand
Could be desert
Could be a tract of arable land
Could be a house
Could be a corner shop
Could be a cabin by a bend in the river
Could be something your old man handed down
Could be something you built on your own
Everybody got something he calls home
When the cowboys and Arabs draw down
On each other at noon
In the cool dusty air of the city boardroom
Will you stand by a passive spectator
Of the market dictators
Will you discreetly withdraw
With your ear pressed to the boardroom door
Will you hear when the lion within you roars
Will you take to the hills
Will you stand
Will you stand for it
Will you hear when the lion within you roars
Could be your father
And it could be your mother
Could be your sister
Could be your brother
Could be a foreigner
Could be a Turk
Could be someone out looking for work
Could be a king
Could be the Aga khan
Could be a Vietnam vet with no arms and no legs
Could be a saint
Could be a sinner
Could be a loser
Or it could be a winner
Could be a banker
Could be a baker
Could be a Laker
Could be Kareem Abdul Jabar
Could be a male voice choir
Could be a lover
Could be a fighter
Could be a super heavyweight
Or it could be something lighter
Could be a cripple
Could be a freak
Could be a wop, gook, geek
Could be a cop
Could be a thief
Could be a family of ten living in one room on relief
Could be our leaders in their concrete tombs
With their tinned food and their silver spoons
Could be the pilot with God on his side
Could be the kid in the middle of the bomb sight
Could be a fanatic
Could be a terrorist
Could be a dentist
Could be a psychiatrist
Could be humble
Could be proud
Could be a face in the crowd
Could be the soldier in the white cravat
Who turns the key in spite of the fact
That this is the end of the cat and mouse
Who dwelt in the house
Where the laughter rang and the tears were spilt
The house that Jack built
Where the laughter rang and the tears were spilt
The house that Jack built
Bang, bang, shoot, shoot
White gloved thumb
Lord thy will be done
He was always a good boy his mother said
He'll do his duty when he's grown
Yeah
Everybody's got someone they call home

Four Minutes

[Billy:] "Four minutes and counting."
[Jim:] "O.K."
[Billy:] "They pressed the button, Jim."
[Jim:] "They pressed the button Billy, what button?"
[Billy:] "The big red one."
[Jim:] "You mean THE button?"
[Billy:] "Goodbye, Jim."
[Jim:] "Goodbye!
Oh yes
This ain't au revoir, it's goodbye!
Ha! Ha!
This is KAOS
It's a beautiful, balmy
Southern California summer day
It's 80 degrees...
I said balmy...
I could say bomby
Ha! Ha!
O.K.
I'm Jim and this is Radio KAOS
And with only four minutes left to us
Let's use this as wisely as possible....
([Molly:] Everybody got someone they call home)
Out at Dodger Stadium
It's the bottom of the seventh
The Dodgers are leading three to nothing over the Giants
And for those of you who are looking to go surfing tomorrow
Too bad
(Telephone rings)
I'm kinda lost in here to tell you the truth
O.K., good
Ladies and gentlemen
If the reports that we are getting are correct
This could be it
Billy, if you're listening to me
Please call now."
After a near miss on the plane
You swear you'll never fly again
After the first kiss when you make up
You swear you'll never break up again
And when you've just run a red light
Sit shaking under the street light
You swear to yourself you'll never drink and drive again
Sometimes I feel like going home
You swear you'll never let things go by again
Sometimes I miss the rain and snow
And you'll never toe the party line again
And when the east wind blows
Sometimes I feel like going home
[Jim:] "Billy, if you are listening, please call."
[Californian Weirdo:] "Sole has no eyes."
[Molly:] "Goodbye little spy in the sky
They say that cameras don't lie
Am I happy
Am I sad
Am I good
Am I bad?"
[Jim:] "Billy, if you're listening, please call."
[Californian Weirdo:] "Sole has no eyes
Sole has no eyes."
[Billy:] "Ten, nine, eight, seven..."
[Margaret Thatcher:] "Our own independent nuclear deterrent
Has helped to keep the peace."
[Billy:] "Six, five four, three..."
[Ordinary Person:] "...you've go a job..."
[Billy:] "Two, one..."
[Margaret Thatcher:] "For nearly forty years"
[Jim:] "Goodbye Billy."

The Tide is Turning (After Live Aid)

I used to think the world was flat
Rarely threw my hat into the crowd
I felt I had used up my quota of yearning
Used to look in on the children at night
In the glow of their Donald Duck light
And frighten myself with the thought of my little ones burning
But, oh, oh, oh, the tide is turning
The tide is turning
Satellite buzzing through the endless night
Exclusive to moonshots and world title fights
Jesus Christ imagine what it must be earning
Who is the strongest
Who is the best
Who holds the aces
The East
Or the West
This is the crap our children are learning
But oh, oh, oh, the tide is turning
The tide is turning
Oh, oh, oh, the tide is turning
Now the satellite's confused
'Cos on Saturday night
The airwaves were full of compassion and light
And his silicon heart warmed
To the sight of a billion candles burning
Oo, oo, oo, the tide is turning
Oo, oo, oo, the tide is turning
The tide is turning Billy
I'm not saying that the battle is won
But on Saturday night all those kids in the sun
Wrested technology's sword from the hand of the war lords
Oh, oh, oh, the tide is turning
The tide is turning Sylvester
The tide is turning
[Morse Code:] "That's it!
Now the past is over but you are not alone
Together we'll fight Sylvester Stallone
We will not be dragged down in his South China Sea
Of macho bullshit and mediocrity"