Telling a personal ordeal through music is certainly nothing new. But in the case of Pink Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright, it was his wife Millie’s battle with clinical depression in 1993 that he decided to share on his latest solo album, Broken China.
“It was her nightmare; it was terrible for her,” admits Wright, 51, in town yesterday…”I was just trying to be as supportive as possible. But it wasn’t fun for me either, honestly, ’cause it was very scary.”
Particularly since Millie’s therapy – including a stay in hospital – brought up memories of several traumas, including her sexual abuse as a child and being raped as an adult.
“My only reservation about it was using, if you like, someone else’s misfortune and putting it on record for everyone to hear,” says Wright. “But I spoke to her and she thought it was a great idea.”
In early interviews for the album, however, Wright would only say it was “a close friend” who had been suffering from depression. “It was a moral dilemma,” he explains, “and I left it entirely up to her and I said, `If you want to talk about your life, that’s fine.’ But I don’t want it to be seen as me using her to promote the album. That’s why I wasn’t using her name in the beginning.”
Interestingly, Millie’s therapist, Gerry Gordon, co-wrote the lyrics for two songs with Wright, Hidden Fear and Blue Room In Venice. “They say therapists should never become friends, but he’s no longer doing therapy for her,” Wright points out.
Controversial Irish singer Sinead O’Connor also sings lead vocals on Reaching For The Rail and Breakthrough. Wright sings on six tracks, and the rest are instrumentals. “I didn’t think she would do it because she’s an artist in her own right,” says Wright, who didn’t know O’Connor previously. “Particularly to sing on this very personal thing about depression, and it’s been said in newspapers that she’s suffered herself. But I didn’t ask her ’cause I felt maybe she’d understood or sympathize with it; I asked her simply because her voice, I felt, was so suitable.
“She came to the studio and listened to it and immediately said, `I’ll do it.’ But that’s Sinead. There’s an agreement actually that the songs she sings can’t be released as singles. There was time when she was going to bring out an album basically around now and she didn’t want it to conflict.”
Meanwhile, the video for Broken China’s first single, Night Of A Thousand Furry Toys, should also prompt some discussion. Not only is it largely blurred, as it’s told from the point of view of a baby just being born, but there are two versions – “without bra” and “with bra.”
“It’s the shot going to the mother’s breast, basically,” says Wright. “I have to say we thought it was ridiculous that there was fear, probably more in America, if you like, than Europe, that it might not be shown because there’s a bare breast. Although you can hardly see it; it’s out of focus.”
As for the status of Pink Floyd, Wright expects he, David Gilmour and Nick Mason will be recording and touring once again. Just don’t pin him down on when.
“Alive and well and not working is basically what you could say,” he said. “But there will be another album, definitely. It’s not that we’ve stopped. I’d be very surprised if we don’t do another album and tour within the next few years.”