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 sin that somehow
Light is changing to shadow
And casting it's shroud
Over all we have known

Unaware how the ranks have grown
Driven on by a heart of stone
We could find that we're all alone
In the dream of the proud

On the wings of the night
As the daytime is stirring
Where the speechless unite
In a silent accord

Using words you will find are strange
Mesmerized as they light the flame
Feel the new wind of change
On the wings of the night

No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside

Just a world that we all must share
It's not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that there'll be
No more turning away?

Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae, edited by Mellow_Harsher

On the Turning Away Lyrics as written by David Jon Gilmour Anthony Jon Moore


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On the Turning Away song meanings
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  • +16
    General CommentI love Pink Floyd. I especially love to start my day listening to Floyd on the way to work. I had a profound experience on my way to work today. I routinely see transient people holding signs asking for this and that. I enjoy helping by handing out what I call a peanut butter kit. This “kit” contains one or two loafs of bread, a big jar of peanut butter, and some plastic (sturdy so that they can be reused) utensils. I especially feel for those who have dogs with them. I personally know just how important companionship is. I know how important and vital it can be to have a dog by your side, to be there for you and help you survive those hard times in life. I often see these people who put clothes on their dogs in the winter to help keep them warm. I feel most for these people because they have chosen not to wear the clothes themselves but to keep their dog warm. Self sacrifice in the face of overwhelming hardship. Today I happened to be listening to “On the Turning Away” and I came upon a man with his dog. The man was holding a sign and it said, “Traveling, will you help us eat today, God Bless”. Yes, I helped this man and I asked him to make sure he takes care of his dog. The expression on this gentleman’s face let me know that he truly loves his dog and that he couldn’t live without it’s companionship.
    What happened next is the profound aspect of this experience. When I pulled up to the intersection the song had just entered the instrumental break. As you are aware, the break decrescendos into silence and then comes back to life and power with the lyrics. The best way to illustrate this is to compare it to a scene in a movie where the music will taper off to accent the dialog and then return with power. As I rolled up the windows and drove through the intersection the lyrics returned. As you know the lyrics sung at this point are:
    “No more turning away
    From the weak and the weary
    No more turning away
    From the coldness inside
    Just a world that we all must share
    It's not enough just to stand and stare
    Is it only a dream that there'll be
    No more turning away?” (David Gilmour)
    Think what you will but I feel that this happened for a reason. God put me here with this man, his dog, and this song at that exact moment. Please understand that I am writing this not for the vanity for helping this man but simply to illustrate the power in helping in whatever way you can, the power of these lyrics, and a call to arms. I hope that everyone who reads this will find ways to help. You might have seen the commercials stating that kindness is contagious, well it truly is. If we all help each other we can make this world a better place. Please help others in need. Listen to the lyrics but also take them to heart.
    rabbelrouser07on March 17, 2008   Link
  • +10
    General Commentthis is one of the most powerful and beautiful songs there is. the intro is so stirring, so moving, and the lyrics are brilliant and passionate. we can't idly ignore the pains that others are suffering, it's our duty to help them and not turn away.
    ramtharon February 23, 2002   Link
  • +5
    My InterpretationThe turning away is complacency towards the pain and suffering of other people, whether it be a large-scale disaster such as a tsunami or a personal loss such as a death. As you go through life, the cumulative pain of all of the bad things that happen will cause you to turn away and detach yourself emotionally, which in the end hurts mankind as a whole because we become less vested and have less desire to help one another. It is human nature and our protective instincts that cause us to turn away but we have to continually focus and work to keep this from happening, both individually and collectively in our society.
    lizardkingpon May 21, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis is an interesting song. It effects people really enormously. The picture that Storm Thorgerson published for it was of people with their, assumably, lovers, meeting or parting at a train station, they are kissing or holding eachother but are holding mirrors and looking at themselves, the perfect depiction of narcicism.

    This song is about how people fail to notice what is all around them because of how preoccupied they are with themselves... it reminds me of how, once, near my place, a young lass got off the bus one cold-enough afternoon, the bus driver closed the doors and caught her scarf in them. He hadn't noticed it at all, concentrating solely on the road or his next drop off. She was dragged nearly half a mile. My half-brother's dad was a paramedic that arrived at the scene, and when he went to lift her head up from the back of her skull in an attempt to resucitate her, his hand went through her head and brains to just behind her forehead. He listened to this song in the dark after that incident for a full day, it seems kind of fitting, doesn't it?
    floydfanatic18on December 02, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General Commentthis is one of THE most amazingly beautiful songs that i have ever heard, even above wish you were here. this song is about how theres so much crap, hatred, greed, lust, stuff like that in the world. everywhere you look, people are suffering. dieing for causes that they didnt beielive in, but were forced into by whatever has power over them waters is saying that we cant just turn our backs on theses people. we need to be there and help them, not because it will look good, or for propoganda. we need to help them becasue its whats right. i needs to be done. we need to pay attention to those little details of life that soooo vital, but that we take for granted. its about reaching out into the world and doing what you can to make it a better place.
    sarayastaron January 06, 2007   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationThose who have suffered tragic loss, a seeming eternity of 'pain and the trouble' and despair are on an island. Life goes on for those who have yet to endure such daily worry and hardship. It's a lonely existence on that island, while the majority go on with their lives, only thinking of the 'pale and downtrodden' in-between parties, concerts, movies, vacations, restaurant visits, and other leisurely activities that come only to those who haven't had to burden something that almost impossible to overcome.

    When it's convenient, they may give an occasional thought to turning towards the "weak and the weary", facing their own "coldness inside" and overcoming that weakness, just briefly, conveniently.

    "It's not enough just to stand and stare" 360 out of 365 days a year, while those long, empty 360 days are torture for the ones who are left to dream about a better day.
    StevenPascalion January 02, 2015   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI LOVE THIS SONG! I absolutely love the floyd boys and i have to say that this is one of the greatest songs that has ever been wrote! amazing. it was wrote to inspire people to help others and let people know that they need to help people who are less fortunate and to worry about others feelings very powerful song
    IMJM4371on April 02, 2003   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI have always loved this song because in a humble understated way it lets us know in no uncertain terms that if we are not trying to see how we can be part of the solution, then we are part of the problem.

    Sometimes the problems of the world can be so great; like children starving in Africa in great numbers, millions of people around the world, homeless and living on the line of starvation, the abuse of children and other helpless individuals and people driven to suicide because they are not accepted by society, that we want to try to pretend that they don't exist and ignore the pain, but this is what we must never do.

    In many cases, perhaps most cases, we are powerless there is little we can phisically do, but we can always offer our emotional support, our compassion, even if not in person.

    Personally I have suffered much pain in my life as I suspect many of us have, and there are times when I am grateful for the pain because through this pain I derive the depth of my compassion.

    As people have stated this is a call to arms and reminds us that the fate of humanity is in all our hands.
    simonmayaon May 24, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWhat everyone in the world should realize put into beautiful words and music. Pink Floyd are without a doubt musical geniuses!!
    ZeeQuickon July 19, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is easily one of my favorite songs...I love everything about Pink Floyd and this song just makes them that much better...this song is truly beautiful.
    pink_angel016on August 17, 2002   Link

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