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Music / The Dark Side of the Moon

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"I never said I was frightened of dying."
"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 think 'crikey'." note 

"I've always been mad — I know I've been mad, like the most of us are. Very hard to explain why you're mad, even if you're not mad." note 
— "Speak to Me"

The Dark Side of the Moon is Pink Floyd's eighth studio album, released on 1 March 1973 through Harvest Records. It is one of the best-selling albums of all time, and at the time of writing, it's only surpassed by Michael Jackson's Thriller, AC/DC's Back in Black, and the soundtrack album to The Bodyguard in sales. The album was Pink Floyd's Breakthrough Hit and made them a mainstream name around the world.

Within the year of its release alone, it topped the charts in the US, Austria, and Canada, and peaked at No. 2 on the UK Albums chart, remaining on the Billboard charts for 741 consecutive weeks until it finally fell off the chart in 1988 and a subsequent revision to the charts prevented legacy albums from being counted anymore. However, once Billboard created the Top Pop Catalog Albums chart in May 1991 to make up for that change, the album swiftly shot into there, and remains on it to this day. Another chart revision in 2009 allowed the album to return to the Billboard 200 once more, and it has since accumulated a total of 958 non-consecutive weeks on the chart as of 2021, far and away the most chart weeks of any album in Billboard history.

Since its release, it has been certified double-diamond in Canada, 16-fold platinum in New Zealand, 15-fold platinum in the US, 14-fold platinum in the UK and Australia, quintuple-platinum in Italynote , double-platinum in Argentina and Germany, platinum in France, Poland, and Russia, and gold in Belgium and the Czech Republic.

However, this sudden super-stardom also sowed the seeds to the band's (especially Roger Waters') later Artist Disillusionment, which became very apparent on the band's later albums, particularly its follow-up.

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.

The album was supported by two singles: "Money" and the double-A-side "Time/Us and Them".

Preceded by Obscured by Clouds. Proceeded by Wish You Were Here.


Side One

  1. "Speak to Me" (1:13)
  2. "Breathe" (2:46)
  3. "On the Run" (3:35)
  4. "Time" (7:05)
  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 on tracks 2, 4, and 6-7, guitar, VCS3
  • Nick Mason - drums, percussion, tape effects
  • Roger Waters - lead vocals on tracks 9-10, bass, VCS3, tape effects
  • Richard Wright - keyboard, backing vocals, lead vocals on track 4, VCS3, tape effects

Troping away, the moments that make up a dull day:

  • Album Closure: The album ends with "Eclipse", the second half of "Brain Damage", which helps to bring all the themes of the album that it was illustrating together in an epic closer.
  • Album Intro Track: "Speak to Me" is a textbook example, as it introduces many motifs and themes that later become important on the album. Some CD versions have it indexed together with "Breathe", though.
  • 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".
  • Anaphora: Almost every line in "Eclipse", the closing track, begins with the phrase "all that you" (with or without an "and" at the start), expanding upon (and consequently bookending) the line "and all you touch and all you see" in "Breathe" near the start of the album.
  • Alternate Album Cover:
    • For the 20th Anniversary release in 1993, the iconic cover image was replaced by a photograph of an actual prism separating light.
    • For the 30th Anniversary in 2003, the image was decidedly less minimalist: It was a photograph of a stained glass window that replicated the album cover, shot at night with trees visible outside, and a small smattering of light from the camera setup. The 2021 repress of the 2003 SACD, meanwhile, uses a new drawing that depicts the prism as a pyramid floating in a starfield.
  • Artistic License - Astronomy: Technically, the Dark Side of the Moon gets just as much light from the Sun as the other side, it's just that the moon is tidally-locked to the Earth, so we only see one side at a time.
  • Armchair Military: "Us and Them":
    "Forward," he cried from the rear
    And the front rank died
    And the General sat
    And the lines on the map moved from side to side
  • Bad Boss: Implied in "Breathe".
    Run, rabbit, run
    Dig that hole, forget the sun
    And when at last the work is done
    Don't sit down, it's time to dig another one
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: A common interpretation of the first and last tracks. "Speak to Me" opens with a heartbeat and ends with the sound of vocalist Clare Torry wailing, 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 line is about the sun being eclipsed by the moon, which could represent death.
    • Alternatively, the end of the first side, "The Great Gig in the Sky", also represents death. Clare Torry's vocals from this song were sampled for "Speak to Me".
  • Bookends:
    • Opens and closes with heartbeats.
    • Both sides have an instrumental track between two vocal performances in the middle of the album.
    • Side one opens and closes with a One-Woman Wail.
      • Vocally, it begins and ends with something to the tune of "Breathe".
    • The second interview sample in "Speak to Me" and the interview sample at the end of "Eclipse" are both by Gerry O'Driscoll, the doorman for Abbey Road Studios.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: From "Time":
    The time has gone, the song is over
    I thought I'd something more to say...
  • Breather Episode:
    • "Breathe".
    • The more upbeat "Money" (although the lyrics are still satirical to say the least), is placed right after the rather sad "The Great Gig in the Sky".
    • The instrumental "Any Colour You Like," after the weightiness of the somewhat depressing anti-war "Us and Them" and before the final coda of "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse."
  • Call-Back: The first lines of "Eclipse", the final track on the album, do this to a line in "Breathe", the first song on the album.
    All (that) you touch
    And all (that) you see...
  • Careful with That Axe: "Speak to Me" has some unnerving screams right before it cuts into "Breathe". And of course, "The Great Gig in the Sky" alternates between soulful wailing and frantic shrieking.
  • Concept Album: The songs are about the "pressures in life that can drive you to insanity" — in order: Life ("Breathe"), travel ("On the Run"), time ("Time"), death ("The Great Gig in the Sky"), money ("Money"), war and society ("Us and Them"), choice ("Any Colour You Like"), and insanity ("Brain Damage").
  • Cover Version:
    • Several bands, including Phish, Flaming Lips, and Dream Theater, have covered the whole 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: the final verse of "Time". Is somewhat compared to the relaxed, airy "Breathe", "Time"'s verse feels more tired and worn-out, 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...
    • Inverted with its so-called "second reprise", "Any Colour You Like", a groovier beat.
  • 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".
  • Echoing Acoustics: "Us and Them" employs a long repeat on the verses using a tape delay by feeding the tape outputs to the inputs.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: "Time" has 2½ minutes of instrumental buildup before any vocals; "Us and Them" has no vocals until about the 1:30/1:40 mark.
  • Epic Rocking: "Time" (7:05), "Money" (6:23), and "Us and Them" (7:50).
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Clocks ("Time"), cash registers / coins / paper ("Money"), helicopters ("On the Run"), and heartbeats ("Speak to Me", "Breathe note ", "On the Run", "Time", "Brain Damage", "Eclipse").
  • 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", too, as noted in Earn Your Happy Ending above.
  • Fading into the Next Song: The transition between all songs is seamless, except for the side flip between "The Great Gig in the Sky" and "Money" on the vinyl pressing, naturally. The final chord of "The Great Gig" is still barely audible under the first sound effect of "Money", and this transition was boosted when the album was remastered for CD. In fact, because of its introductory nature, early CD pressings place "Speak to Me" and "Breathe" on the same track.
  • 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". The title also harkens back to a quote from United States automotive maker Henry Ford, who said in 1909 about the Ford Model T note , "Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black."note 
  • Gratuitous Panning: The "dueling guitars" section of "Any Colour You Like".
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Clare Torry, who sang the One-Woman Wail in "The Great Gig in the Sky".
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: See Bookends. It also appears in "Breathe", "On the Run", "Time", and "Brain Damage".
  • 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 they were in the right except for Henry McCullough, who states that "I don't know; I was really drunk at the time."
    • "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.
  • Iconic Song Request: "Money" became this due to the success of the album, to the irritation of the band members.
  • Instrumentals: "Speak to Me", "On the Run", "The Great Gig in the Sky", and "Any Colour You Like".
  • Jump Scare: All of the clocks spontaneously chiming at the start of "Time".
  • Laughing Mad:
    • Invoked with roadie Roger The Hat's laughter during "On the Run".
    • Also invoked with Peter Watts' laughter in "Brain Damage".
  • List Song: "Eclipse" lists a series of actions one has done, is doing, and will do in its lifetime.
  • Long Runner: 741 consecutive weeks — 14 straight years — on the Billboard 200 album chart. To put that in perspective, Dark Side was still on the charts when Pink Floyd released A Momentary Lapse of Reason in 1987. When Billboard began allowing recurrent albums back into the chart in 2009, the album returned to the chart within two weeks and passed 950 non-consecutive weeks in May 2020. No album has ever come close to being on the chart for that long in the history of the Billboard 200.
    • It's estimated that the album still sells around 8,000 copies per week, in spite of (and because of) digital streaming.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The album is filled with low-key jazz textures, but the lyrics are quite bleak.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: Keyboard player Richard Wright asked for something "smarter, neater – more classy".note  The end result is a stark image of a prism refracting a beam of light into a six-stripe rainbow against a black backdrop, all rendered in stark colors with as little detail as possible. The rainbow continued through the inner part of the gatefold, where the green line zigzagged in mimicry of the heartbeat heard throughout the album; the back cover featured another prism returning the beam of light to its origin point on the front cover.
  • Money Song: "Money" is a satirical one, discussing the evils of money and the excess it brings through tongue-in-cheek lyrics about materialistic greed.
  • Mushroom Samba: "Any Colour You Like" is almost the musical equivalent to one of these, with its psychedelic swirling synths and guitars.
  • Non-Appearing Title: The instrumentals and "Brain Damage".
  • Not Afraid to Die: Gerry O'Driscoll says this 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" features one long wail over organ and pedal steel guitar. Clare Torry couldn't quite summon the right emotions for her wordless vocalizations on "Great Gig in the Sky" until she struck on the idea that, rather than doing vocals, she should treat her voice as if it were another instrument.
  • One-Word Title: "Breathe", "Time", "Money", and "Eclipse".
  • 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's incomplete.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The line "And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes" was inspired by the fact that Syd Barrett sometimes played a completely different song than the rest of the band during a concert; it was mostly due to his declining mental state, which was the main reason for his removal from the band.
  • Recurring Riff: Harmonic elements of "Breathe" are later reprised (obviously) in "Breathe (Reprise)" but also, less obviously, in "Any Colour You Like".
  • Sanity Slippage Song: "Brain Damage", which is at least partially about Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett, who's famous for his own Sanity Slippage that 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 before ("If" from Atom Heart Mother) and returned to it later in several songs on The Wall and The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The album cover was directly inspired by Alex Steinweiss' artwork for Rudolf Serkin and the New York Philharmonic's 1941 performance of Ludwig van Beethoven's "Emperor Concerto", which features a white piano similarly refracting a beam of light into a six-stripe rainbow (Steinweiss himself was the inventor of the illustrated album cover).
    • There's a snippet of the Hollyridge Strings performing The Beatles' "Ticket to Ride" in the fade-out of "Eclipse".
    • Richard Wright based the chord progression of "Breathe" on the opening to "So What", the first track on Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, taking particular inspiration from Bill Evans' piano work.
  • Siamese Twin Songs:
    • "Speak to Me" and "Breathe", inseparable enough that they are sometimes issued as one track on certain CD pressings note .
    • "Us and Them" and "Any Colour You Like" are connected by a delayed part of the last word on the former track. The delay continues into the beginning of the track, and is actually faintly heard as the synth begins. However, unlike the other three, only the former is played on the radio.
    • "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse" are so inseparable they're often collectively mistaken for the title track of the album, which doesn't exist.
    • In general, it can be said that there are only two distinct tracks on the entire album: "Side A" and "Side B."
  • 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:
    • Henry McCullough of Wings (who supplied the "I don't know, I was really drunk at the time" heard in the segue between "Money" and "Us and Them"; Paul McCartney and his then-wife Linda were also interviewed, but their answers were considered generic and/or trying too hard to be funny, so they were left unused);
    • Roadie Chris Adamson (the "I've been mad for fucking years" monologue 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");
    • Watts' 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. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA" in "On the Run");
    • and Abbey Road Studios' doorman Gerry O'Driscoll, responsible for some of the more iconic quotes (the second one in "Speak to Me" about being mad, the one at the bottom of the page that ends the album, 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 "Brain Damage" was performed during the Pulse concert, the circular screen showed images of 20th-century world leaders (e.g., Ronald Reagan, Idi Amin, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher, Saddam Hussein, Bill Clinton...).
  • Textless Album Cover: One of the most iconic in history. Some CD pressings, however, include the circular sticker that was on the vinyl's shrink-wrap.
  • The "The" Title Confusion: Surprisingly to many, it's actually called The 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" is in 7/4, save for the guitar solo and chorus, which is in 4/4 because David Gilmour kept getting thrown off by the weirder time signature of the rest of the song.
  • Ur-Example: "On the Run" is a trance techno number recorded in 1973.
  • War Is Hell: "Us and Them":
    Forward he cried from the rear
    And the front rank died
    And the general sat, and the lines on the map
    Moved from side to side
  • We All Die Someday: Gerry O'Driscoll says as much during the intro to "The Great Gig in the Sky".
    I am not frightened of dying. Any time will do, I don't mind. Why should I be frightened of dying? There's no reason for it — you've got to go sometime.
  • Went to the Great X in the Sky: The track "The Great Gig in the Sky" references this expression, tying in with its focus on death.
  • The X of Y: The Dark Side of the Moon
  • You Are Not Alone: The message of "Brain Damage":
    And if the dam breaks open many years too soon
    And if there is no room upon the hill
    And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too
    I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.
  • 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."note 
— "Eclipse"

Alternative Title(s): Dark Side Of The Moon