Music: The Dark Side of the Moon

The Dark Side of the Moon.

I've been mad for fucking years, absolutely years. I've been over the edge for yonks. Been working with bands for so long, I went crazy.
Chris Adamson, one of Pink Floyd's roadies, opening words

The Dark Side of the Moon is the eighth studio album by Pink Floyd, released in 1973. Considered their Magnum Opus (alongside The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall), the album remained on the Billboard Top 100 for 15 straight years. It remains one of the most-sold albums ever—at the time of this writing, it's only surpassed by Michael Jackson's Thriller and AC/DC's Back in Black. It was listed at nr. #43 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time. In 2013, it was inducted into the US Library of Congress' National Recording Registry, garnering the most public votes for any entry that year.

It was Pink Floyd's big breakthrough, and made them a mainstream name. But this sudden super-stardom also sowed the seeds to the band's (especially Roger Waters') later Artist Disillusionment, which became very apparent on the albums Animals, The Wall, and The Final Cut.

In 2013, the album was adapted into a BBC radio play titled Darkside by Czech playwright Tom Stoppard of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead fame. He describes this play as a "philosophical comedy". The teaser can be viewed here.


Tracklist:

Side One

  1. "Speak to Me" (1:13)
  2. "Breathe" (2:46)
  3. "On the Run" (3:35)
  4. "Time" (7:04)
  5. "The Great Gig in the Sky" (4:48)

Side Two

  1. "Money" (6:23)
  2. "Us and Them" (7:50)
  3. "Any Colour You Like" (3:25)
  4. "Brain Damage" (3:50)
  5. "Eclipse" (2:03)


Principal Members:

  • David Gilmour - lead vocals, guitar, VCS3
  • Nick Mason - drums, percussion, tape effects
  • Roger Waters - lead vocals, bass, VCS3, tape effects
  • Richard Wright - keyboard, backing and lead vocals, VCS3, tape effects


The Great Trope in the Sky:

  • Album Title Drop: "Brain Damage":
    And if your head explodes/With dark forebodings too/I'll see you on the dark side of the moon
    [...]
    And if the band you're in/Starts playing different tunes/I'll see you on the dark side of the moon
  • Alliterative Title: "The Great Gig In The Sky".
  • Birth/Death Juxtaposition: A common interpretation of the first and last tracks. "Speak To Me" opens with a heartbeat and the sound of a woman screaming, which could represent a baby's birth and a mother's labour pains. "Eclipse" ends with the sound of a heartbeat gradually fading into silence, and its last verse is about the sun being eclipsed by the moon, which could represent death.
  • Book Ends: Opens and ends with heartbeats.
  • Breather Episode: The more upbeat "Money" (if you don't read into the lyrics), placed right after the rather sad "The Great Gig In The Sky".
  • Concept Album: Word of God has it that the songs are about the "pressures in life that can drive you to insanity"—in order: communication, work, travel, time, death, money, society, choice, brain damage, and nature.
  • Cover Version: Several bands, including Phish, Flaming Lips, and Dream Theater, have covered the entire album.
    • Easy Star Records released a reggae version called Dub Side of the Moon.
    • Brian Ibbott's first full-album episode of the Coverville podcast was called "The Covered Side Of The Moon"note .
  • Dark Reprise: "Breathe (Reprise)", which comes in just after "Time". Compared to the relaxed, airy "Breathe", the reprise has a more tired, worn-out tempo, which fits the lyrics.
    Home, home again
    I like to be here when I can
    When I come home cold and tired
    It's good to warm my bones beside the fire...
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Subverted. "Eclipse" seems to work itself up to some sort of acceptance of all the madness of life...
    And everything under the sun is in tune
    But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Early live performances of the album (then titled Eclipse) have completely different instrumentals in place of "On The Run" and "The Great Gig In The Sky".
    • In fact, the album was titled Eclipse because in 1972 Medicine Head (which featured Keith Relf of The Yardbirds on bass) released an album called Dark Side Of The Moon. Pink Floyd was aware of this, and when it became clear that the Medicine Head album was a commercial failure, they decided to use that title instead of Eclipse anyway.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: "Time". The instrumentals themselves could count.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Clocks ("Time") and cash registers/coins/paper ("Money").
  • Existentialism: Arguably a large theme.
    • "Breathe":
      All you touch and all you see/Is all your life will ever be...
    • "Time":
      And then one day you find/Ten years have got behind you/No one told you when to run/You missed the starting gun...
    • "Eclipse":
      And everything under the sun is in tune/But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.
  • Fading into the Next Song: Besides "The Great Gig In The Sky" -> "Money" (since, on vinyl, they were on different sides), the transition between all the songs is seamless.
  • Foreshadowing: All of the sound motifs note  appear in "Speak To Me" (the very first track) before being featured individually in later songs.
  • Freedom from Choice: The title of "Any Colour You Like". Waters named that song after Londoners who would come to his hometown of Cambridge and attempt to sell various items from their trucks, specifically one who attempted to hawk sets of china by saying "Any colour you like, they're all blue".
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: Opens and ends with heartbeats.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Some of the quotes that appear and reappear on the album feature people's answers to the questions "When was the last time you were violent?" and "Were you in the right?". Everyone quoted seems to firmly believe he or she was in the right except for Henry McCullough, who's unsure.
    • "Us And Them" is a plea against human conflicts for what are generally stupid reasons and makes the observation that the machinations of the powerful hit the small people the hardest.
  • List Song: "Eclipse" lists a series of actions one does in his lifetime.
  • Long Runner: 741 weeks—14 straight years—on the Billboard Hot 200 chart. When Billboard began allowing recurrent albums back into the chart in 2009, the album returned to the chart within two weeks and has racked up 25+ further weeks since then. In 2012, it passed 800 non-consecutive weeks on the Billboard 200.
    • It's estimated that the album still sells around 8,000 copies per week.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: As you can see in the picture, it is pretty basic.
  • Money Song: Subverted with "Money". It's about the evils of money and the excesses it brings.
  • Mushroom Samba: "Any Colour You Like".
  • Non-Appearing Title: The instrumentals, "The Great Gig In The Sky", and "Brain Damage".
  • Not Afraid to Die: Gerry O'Driscoll says he's not afraid to die in the spoken part of "The Great Gig In The Sky".
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Before the aforementioned heartbeat, there is 15 seconds of complete silence.
  • One-Woman Wail: "The Great Gig In The Sky" is one long female wail.
  • One-Word Title: "Breathe", "Time", "Money", and "Eclipse".
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • "Money":
      Don't give me that do goody-good bullshit...
    • The album even opens with one–the very first spoken words of "Speak To Me":
      I've been mad for fuckin' years...
  • Product Placement: "Money":
    I think I need a Lear Jet...
  • Pyramid Power: Invoked with the cover art, as well as the accompanying poster and stickers.
  • Rainbow Lite: The prism's rainbow doesn't have indigo in it. Invoked, as it turns out—the album's central motif is madness and a sense that something is incomplete.
  • Refrain from Assuming: It's "Brain Damage", not the title track. There isn't one note . It's also two songs ("Brain Damage" and "Eclipse" run into each other), not one.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: "Brain Damage", which is at least partially about Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett, who's famous for his own Sanity Slippage which led to his departure from the band.
    • It is also at least partially about Roger Waters' fear of falling victim to mental illness. He had touched on the theme at least once before ("If") and would return to it later in several songs on The Wall and The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking.
  • Shout-Out:
    • There's a snippet of an orchestral version of The Beatles' "Ticket To Ride" in the fade-out of "Eclipse".
    • Richard Wright based his compositions and keyboard work on Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.
    • "Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun" from The Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique samples "Time", while "B-Boy Bouillabaisse" from the same album samples "Breathe".
  • Siamese Twin Songs: "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse" are so inseparable they're often collectively mistaken for the title track of the album...which doesn't exist.
  • Spoken Word in Music: Some songs include samples of people talking, who were answering questions such as "When was the last time you were violent?", "Were you in the right?", "Are you afraid of death?", or "What is the dark side of the moon?". Among the people interviewed were: Paul McCartney and his wife Linda (whose answers weren't used, as the band thought they were too generic), Paul's Wings band-mate Henry McCullough (who supplied the "I don't know, I was really drunk at the time" heard in the transition between "Money" and "Us And Them"), roadie Chris Adamson (the Precision F-Strike at the start of the album), the band's road manager Peter Watts (whose crazed laughter is heard in "Brain Damage" and "Speak To Me") and his wife Patricia (who says "I never said I was frightened of dying" in "The Great Gig In The Sky" and describes a violent encounter in the segue between "Money" and "Us And Them": "that geezer was cruisin' for a bruisin'"), Roger "The Hat" Manifold (who appears in "Us And Them" and says "live for today, gone tomorrow, that's me" in "On The Run") and Abbey Road Studios' doorman Gerry O'Driscoll, responsible for some of the more iconic quotes (the one at the bottom of the page, and the discussion about death in "The Great Gig In The Sky").
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Referenced and lampshaded in "Time":
    Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way...
  • Stock Sound Effects: The coins-and-cash-register sounds from "Money" are used a lot these days.
  • Take That: When played live (most notably on P*U*L*S*E), the circular screen will display videos of 20th-century world leaders (e.g. Ronald Reagan, Idi Amin, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Margaret Thatcher, Saddam Hussein...) during "Brain Damage".
  • Textless Album Cover: One of the most iconic!
  • The "The" Title Confusion: Surprising to many, it's actually called The Dark Side of the Moon, not Dark Side of the Moon.
  • Title Drop: Aside from the lyrics in "Brain Damage", Gerry O'Driscoll says at the end of the album "There is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact, it's all dark."
  • Uncommon Time: "Money" alternates between 7/4 and 4/4.
    • The song shifts from 7/4 to 4/4 only because that was the only way that David Gilmour could get the guitar solo right.
  • Urban Legend: The supposed "synchronization" between this album and The Wizard of Oz.
    • All of the band members and Alan Parsons, the engineer for the album, have stated that this is a coincidence.
      David Gilmour: Some guy with too much time on his hands had this idea of combining Wizard of Oz with Dark Side of the Moon.
      Nick Mason: It's absolute nonsense, it has nothing to do with The Wizard of Oz. It was all based on The Sound of Music.
    • They do have quite a few moments that match well with each other, but it wasn't on purpose. For that matter, deliberately synchronizing the album in production would have added a not-inconsiderable amount of effort and expense, since the early 1970's were rather short on convenient ways to play movies in the recording studio.
      • Not that it would require much. Just pick specific times to change the song—wouldn't even need the movie playing in real-time. Plus, there's editing. In addition, the band reportedly did the same thing with 2001: A Space Odyssey as well. (In addition, too much of the "coincidences" are too on the nose, right down to the cyclone timing and the beating of a heart at the end. Even the album cover seems to refer to The Wizard of Oz.)
  • Ur Example: "On The Run" is a trance techno number recorded in 1973.
  • Went to the Great X in the Sky: "The Great Gig In The Sky".
  • Your Head A Splode: From "Brain Damage":
    And if your head explodes/With dark forebodings too/I'll see you on the dark side of the moon...

There is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact, it's all dark.

Alternative Title(s):

Dark Side Of The Moon