What does On The Turning Away mean?

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Pink Floyd: On The Turning Away Meaning

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Song Released: 1987


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On The Turning Away Lyrics

On the turning away
From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say
Which we won't understand
"Don't accept that what's happening
Is just a case of others' suffering
Or you'll find that you're joining in
The turning away"

It's a...

  1. 1TOP RATED

    #1 top rated interpretation:
    anonymous
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    Feb 4th 2015 report

    “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything”


    ― Albert Einstein

    that's its meaning!

  2. 2TOP RATED

    #2 top rated interpretation:
    anonymous
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    Nov 26th 2012 report

    I think the meaning is plain. No more turning away and forgetting/ignoring people who are in need. If you say it's just their problem, then you will find you are turning away yourself. It's the plans of the proud, not the humble that endanger us all.
    It's a simple but beautifully true meaning.

  3. 3TOP RATED

    #3 top rated interpretation:
    anonymous
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    Feb 24th 2017 report

    This song represents, as stated above the band and what happened to Syd. However, the way it was written was to,in effect, bring to light the way normal society deals with homelessness and hungry people. They turn away from them and in doing so they lose part of their own soul. We are meant, as a people, to help each other and not turn away from them. Once we realize the darkness we do to others we can bring in a new wind of change. But only once we acknowledge the wrongs that are done to these people.

  4. ArnoldLane
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    Nov 4th report

    In 2001 I was in college when 9/11 happened. I was inspired to join the US military after listening to this song. I believed that for me “No more turning away” meant liberating the afghan people from oppression and ridding the world of terrorism. After having fought in Afghanistan and Iraq I have a different view. That this song could have had the opposite affect. To not engage in violence toward an opposing perspective or to try to understand an opposing viewpoint. I killed for ideology. For someone else’s financial gain. How did I benefit? How did we benefit? Nobody did. I inflicted violence in the name of ideology and had it done to me in the same. Great song, however interpreted.

  5. anonymous
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    May 9th 2022 report

    Like many works of poetry and song, this one is most likely routed in Gilmour’s empathy for Barrett, but it points out a bigger picture as well. It shines a light on people’s apathy towards evil and trouble in the world. In my opinion, If it was just about Syd Barrett people might be too apathetic to give a shit. The fact that most people can relate to the general idea is probably what helped it become a hit. And it’s also a killer composition.

  6. anonymous
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    May 6th 2022 report

    This song has meaning to all who see trouble in the world from a petty man that wants to bring glory to himself by destroying a population that does not wish to be chained as slaves. The Ukrainian people deserve to have the World NOT TURN AWAY.

  7. anonymous
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    Feb 17th 2021 report

    I'm not sure what the lyrics mean but the "no turning away" screams to me that people are suffering and people are turning away and ignoring whats happening.WHEN are we going to be human and help?? Have we become so selfish and desensitized that we are numb to whats going on??

  8. anonymous
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    Aug 18th 2019 report

    Like other’s have already stated, the song’s lyrical content is regarding the band realizing that their once brilliant and creative friend and band mate was no longer the same person he was, due to him ingesting copious amounts of LSD and essentially burning out his like a lot of other Floyd song’s. Stop reading into it! Y’all act like your looking at clouds and explaining what you think you see. Smh

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  9. anonymous
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    Feb 12th 2019 report

    Correction Im correcting my previous comment & adding something in-
    Roger Waters & Syd Barret grew up together & were friends. David Gilmour came in to take the place of Syd Barret.
    All that lost potential- so sadm. 30 yrs of lost potential in my life too. I was a rising star working in Denver. I made a LOT of money & I loved my job! I supported my husband AND our weekend/holiday lifestyle of Snow Skiing, White Water Rafting, Camping, Out with Friends, his hunting trips, you name it. He pulled me out of Denver back to friends doing drugs & going nowhere & that made me depressed. At 27 I slipped into Psychosis. At 29 when I got diagnosed with Bipolar 1 I lost everything- including my identity.
    I say this because I'm sad that we (Syd, Me & Countless others) live bright, creative & wonderful lives - until we get that 'blank stare & the sparkle in our eyes turns black'... People do abandon us. Even our families treat us poorly & we are plunged into poverty. Most people can't deal with our suffering & our pain & we are also those people in
    "THE TURNING AWAY".
    TY for reading...

  10. anonymous
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    Feb 12th 2019 report

    It's about Syd Barret - the founder of Pink Floyd. He started exhibiting signs of Schizophrenia & did a lot of LSD. He started turning his back to the chroud, playing only 1 note & when he just 'stood and stared' at the audience, they cut him lose as a liability. Syd & Gilmour grew up together & were friends. It haunted Gilmour even though he knew it was the right thing to do.
    As someone with Bipolar 1, I can relate to a lot of Pink Floyd's Music. A lot of songs "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and the "The Wall" is about Syd Barret. "The Wall" is about 'Pink' (Barret) going 'mad' & Gilmour felt like 'a wall was built' around himself & the band.
    I agree with the other meanings as well. A song or Music should speak to you & whatever it means to you when you hear it is what's important!

  11. anonymous
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    Aug 10th 2016 report

    When it comes to people there is nothing really new under the sun that they've changed for the better by turning away from the good. This can only lead you on the path to evil that should be avoided. Unless you lived or live by the2 or 3 thousand year old mentality when evil was considered The Bad, which was the poor, the meek and the slaves and The Good was considered to be The Rich and famous political educated Elites mindset that for ''some'' reason haven't change much ''even'' after the Albert Einstein quote about living with 'those that do evil doesn't destroy the world? But by not doing nothing about it certainly will! No wonder god came down as Jesus in the Bible to educate us clowns who died for our sins in order for us to know the good from the evil, then and now. When in the present we're still ''on the turning away'' from what our evil sins have been doing to influence the rest of us that got ''even'' worse in the world since the atomic bomb drop and integrating ourselves with Israel's law and order that influenced more wars throughout the world and of course the middle east. Where a good majority of us the people slowly settled ''on the turning away'' from the ones that became ''weak and weary'' in desperate need for acceptance, shelter and love. From us the people that were conditioned to become selfish and conceited that turns away from the meek and fragile minded individuals that now have a difficult time just to live with the suffering. In a society that became a dog eat dog world with a survival of the fittest mentality that we as a people should breakaway from it's evil grip and no more turning away from them in need that also wants to reach their hopes and dreams with a healthy passion to become their own heroes and not cowards that should fight the war against the new forms of evil created, so that we didn't have to exit ourselves out ''On the turning away''.

  12. anonymous
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    Aug 17th 2014 report

    The song is about the band Pink Floyd's 'turning away' from founding member Sid Barrett, who mental illness made him a liability. Specifically, David Gilmour was chiding Roger Waters for doing so. It was turned into a larger meaning, encompassing all such things, a 'man's inhumanity to man' thing. The words that most specifically point to Barrett are "it's not enough to stand and stare", both because that's what Barrett did, and what some band members did when he lost it.

  13. anonymous
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    Jan 14th 2012 report

    This song is about the moment you overcome a bad thing that happened; it's for the new day that comes after the darkness; there is no place for division - one must be open-minded and face his "new life" with mind empty of hate.

  14. anonymous
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    Aug 12th 2011 report

    This song is saying that we should help the people in need, because people today too often turn away from these world issues. They are saying that we should assist the poor and the needy, not leave them by themselves.

  15. anonymous
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    May 3rd 2011 report

    Definitely a song regarding social issues such as homelessness and depression. Sir David Gilmour is simply reflecting on the fact we should stop turning away from such sad things.


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