The Dark Side of the Moon at 45
By Daniel F.
On March 3, 1973, Pink Floyd released “The Dark Side of the Moon.” It became one of the best albums of all time, spending 741 consecutive weeks on the Billboard Top LPs & Tapes chart. Rolling Stone named it the 43rd best album of all time.
The album is a concept album focusing on life, death, insanity, war, anxiety, and greed. It consists of ten tracks.
‘Speak to Me’ leads off the album and foreshadows multiple tracks later on the record. The heartbeat is heard at the end of ‘Eclipse,’ the clocks open ‘Time,’ the crazy laughter is found in ‘Brain Damage,’ the cash register opens ‘Money,’ the helicopter rotors are in ‘On the Run,’ and the woman screaming foreshadows ‘The Great Gig in the Sky.’
‘Speak to Me’ fades into ‘Breathe.’ Both represent the beginning of life. The heartbeat represents life and ‘Breathe’ symbolizes the first breath taken after being born.
‘On the Run’ is an instrumental representing the stress of travel. Featuring a panic inducing synth throughout, it also has an airport speaker telling people a plane is about to depart. Someone running can be heard, trying to catch their flight. Other person says, “Live for today, gone tomorrow,” representing constant travel. The song ends with the plane crashing.
‘Time’ opens up with clocks ringing. Nick Mason follows with a two minute drum solo, symbolizing wasting time. David Gilmour and Rick Wright share lead vocals, singing about people wasting time in life and trying to catch up. Gilmour gives one of his best guitar solos in the middle. It also consists of ‘Breathe (Reprise)’ which talks about coming home from a trip.
One of the best metaphors for death, ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’ is led by Wright’s piano and features Clare Torry singing vocals. This is one of two Pink Floyd songs with a guest vocalist. Torry sings no words, and was told to improvise the performance. In the beginning, a voice can heard saying, “And 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.”
Opening up the second half of the album, ‘Money’ starts off with cash registers opening and coins clinking together. Led by Roger Waters bass riff, the song concerns greed. It talks about people flaunting their money just because they can. Gilmour delivers another great guitar solo in the song.
‘Us and Them’ talks about war. It has a prominent jazz influence, with a saxophone playing throughout. It also features an echo effect on some of Gilmour’s vocals.
The last instrumental of the album, ‘Any Colour You Like’ is led by Wright’s synths and features another guitar solo by Gilmour. It is meant to represent lack of choice in society. The title comes from Henry Ford’s saying on the Model T, “You can have it any color you like, as long as it’s black.”
‘Brain Damage’ focuses on insanity, particularly that of former band mate Syd Barrett. Barrett went insane by constant drug use and the band forced him to leave. The band felt bad about this, and continued to make songs about his influence on them. It features manic laughter in it.
‘Brain Damage’ leads into ‘Eclipse,’ the last song on the record. It deals with death and talks about everything someone has done in their life. It ends with a heartbeat, symbolizing the last beat of someone’s heart before dying. At the end someone can be heard saying, “There is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark. The only thing that makes it look light is the sun,” talking about the title of the album.
‘Speak to Me/Breathe’ from Arturo on YouTube.
‘Brain Damage/Eclipse’ from Metal8909 on YouTube.
All other songs from Pink Floyd – Topic on YouTube.
Feature image from Pink Floyd’s Twitter account.