Pink Floyd's greatest album | The Dark Side of the Moon, analyzed

Dark Side of the Moon album cover
Dark Side of the Moon album cover

Pink Floyd. The Dark Side of the Moon.

One in fourteen Americans under the age of 50 has owned this album. One in fourteen! I’m on my third copy, myself. Vinyl, to cassette, to CD, which I ripped to iTunes for scratch-free listening.

The word “album” brings to mind old-fashioned black vinyl records, but it really refers to the music on the record. An album is a compilation of songs. A true music album is much more than a collection of songs...

Case in point: The Dark Side of the Moon.

It’s not just a handful of short stories. Each song is a chapter in a novel. The last cut, Eclipse, ends in a slow fade that is picked up in turn by the first cut, Speak to Me. The album is a seamless loop. It’s much easier to appreciate this when you don’t have to stop and flip the record over, which is a testament. The Dark Side of the Moon was made in 1972, years before music was sold on any media that you didn’t have to stop to flip over.

A live performance The Dark Side of the Moon shortly after its release in 1973. (l-r) Dave Gilmour, Nick Mason, Dick Parry, Roger Waters
A live performance The Dark Side of the Moon shortly after its release in 1973. (l-r) Dave Gilmour, Nick Mason, Dick Parry, Roger Waters

They don’t make ‘em like they used to. Really.

Music albums are becoming obsolete. On-line alá carte song shopping means fewer people are purchasing an artist’s entire body of work because they are interested in only one or two songs. This is good in the sense that you aren’t wasting your money if you don’t like the whole album. But if you download one or two songs from The Dark Side of the Moon without hearing it in total, you are missing something special.

Recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, Pink Floyd put to use the most advanced technology available. Intricate multitracks, looping sound effects, and synthesizers pack the recording with rich sound that fills every corner of the room. Or, car.

Ten songs make The Dark Side of the Moon

The ten songs on The Dark Side of the Moon blend into one unbroken melody. Bits of some songs are sampled into other songs, creating a singular concept. Poetic and philosophical, the lyrics lead each song into the next, building a single theme: life.

Here is a list of the tracks; what they are, and what they mean.

Track 01: Speak to Me 1:30

This track is instrumental. The slowly rising heartbeat of a bass drum is a continuation from the fade out of the last track on the album. It begins with brief samples from the songs yet to come.

Track 02: Breathe 2:49

Broad and gentle, Breathe represents a new birth. Breathe, breathe in the air.

A calming song of optimism and fresh perspective. Life develops as the song progresses, ending with, balanced on the biggest wave/you race toward an early grave.

Breathe, with lyrics (Vocals begin at 1:20)

Track 03: On the Run 3:51

Another instrumental track. A flight announcement echoes behind the sound of running footsteps in an airport. It is the bustle of travel, the stress of the journey. Featuring synthesized sound and the effect of a guitar played backwards, this cut grows in intensity. It ends with sounds that introduce the next song: ticking and chiming clocks.

Track 04 Time (Breathe Reprised) 6:50

Kicking around on a piece ground in your hometown. Time is passing; are you wasting it? Elegant vocals make this track full and strong. It blends with Breath Reprised, referencing the second track. The sun is the same in a relative way/But you’re older. Time moves more quickly as you age. A sustained chord leads to a simple but mournful piano, transitioning to the next track.

Track 05 The Great Gig In The Sky 4:44

“And I am not frightened of dying. Any time will do; I don't mind.” Powerful vocals without lyrics overshadow the mourning piano. It is a gorgeous ending to the cycle. Here is the slightest of pauses as the album transitions from “Side 1” the cycle of life, to “Side 2” the living of life.

Track 06 Money 6:23

The most popular track on the album, Money owes it’s quirky mood to it’s time signature. It is performed in 7/4 time instead of a standard 4/4 measure.

Clanky cash registers and pocket change set the tone. New car, caviar, four star daydream. This song switches to familiar 4/4 time for the duration of an extended guitar solo before returning to the odd 7/4 beat. Money, so they say/Is the root of all evil/today.

Track 07 Us And Them 7:50

This track returns to calmness, but a lonely tenor sax builds tension. Up and down/But in the end it's only round and round. The melody reflects sadness. It is a struggle to understand conflict, and a commentary about compassion. For the want of the price of tea and a slice/The old man died.

Track 08 Any Colour You Like 3:26

A third instrumental, this track mimics Breathe’s tempo and chord structure. While it has no lyrics, the song uses it’s title to explore the choices we have in life. As Henry Ford famously said of his Model-T, "You can have it any color you like, as long as it's black." Highly synthesized, the instrumental gradually winds to a gentle and once again calm transition to the next track.

Track 09 Brain Damage 3:47

The lunatic is on the grass. It is toying and repetitive. Lyrics explore the question of sanity. Are you a lunatic because you don't stay on the path? Or are you a lunatic because you don't enjoy a walk on the fresh grass? Who is to decide? And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes/I'll see you on the dark side of the moon

Track 10 Eclipse 2:12

With a slow tempo and dramatic background vocals, Eclipse culminates in a grand and sublime melody. It is a summary of the album, and of life itself. Fading to a quiet, steady heartbeat, it leads magically back to Track 01, Breathe.

Brain Damage/Eclipse, with lyrics

The sun and the moon

...everything under the sun is in tune/But the sun is eclipsed by the moon

Everything under the sun... all we need, all we want. If you can dream it, you can do it. It's all in tune.

But that small, dark element of human nature, the moon, can eclipse everything that is good.

Then...
Then...
... and now
... and now

The impact of The Dark Side of the Moon

Recorded in 1972 and released in 1973, the album immediately hit the Billboard 200, topping it for a week. It stayed on the charts for a further 741 weeks - fourteen years - the longest duration in history. It is a masterpiece that will define the culture of our era. The Dark Side of the Moon is often ranked as the best selling album of all time.

Roger Waters, co-founder and songwriter, said: “When the record was finished I took a reel-to-reel copy home with me and I remember playing it for my wife then, and I remember her bursting into tears when it was finished. And I thought, ‘This has obviously struck a chord somewhere’, and I was kinda pleased by that.”

The Dark Side of the Moon certainly does strike a chord. I’m kinda pleased about that, myself.


© 2009 wyanjen at HubPages

Pink Floyd's greatest album | The Dark Side of the Moon, analyzed


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47 comments

Justine76 6 years ago

awesome!!! did you ever watch wizard of oz while listenin to the album?


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

thanks Justine!

The Dark Side of Oz will be the follow-up hub... ;-)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

This is my favorite album of all time. Thank you for this fine report. I enjoyed it.


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

Hello James. This was a fun project for me. This album is one of my passions, striking me at so many different levels. I am kinda sheepish, but I have tears coming out during eclipse.

I'm so glad you enjoyed it :)

thanks for stopping by.

Jen


franki79 6 years ago

Great Hub!!! And I look foreward to reading more. Franki


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

Thanks franki!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

Wyandotte. Of all places. I am from Benton Harbor.


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

Get out of here James! :-D

There are a lot of Michigan people here I'm finding. Very cool!

Yup, I'm Jen from Wyandotte = wyanjen

As cool as it is to me to meet people from the whole world over, it is even more exciting to meet somebody in your own backyard.


Salsa Dancing 6 years ago

I have a pink floyd thsirt, and love how thought provoking their lyrics are, it's like they have some sort of hidden meaning in their spong that they're using to portray a much more sophisticated message


sannyasinman profile image

sannyasinman 6 years ago

Yes, as you say this is a masterpiece. I still have the vinyl copy and still listen to it often (although I have also transferred it to MP3 for convenience). You made me realise things I didn't know about the album, and for that I thank you. Now a review of Meddle, Wish You Were Here, The Wall, please . . . :)


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

Hello sannyasinman :)

I must confess, I googled Track 08: Any Colour You Like. I had no idea how it fit LOL. It does fit in perfectly tho.

I can't listen to Wish You Were Here without a big ol' lump in my throat, and usually a few tears. It's always a different person I'm missing too - sometimes my dad, sometimes an old friend who's moved away.

did you exchange a walk-on part in the war/for a lead role in a cage?

great line to consider, when you are making a big decision :)


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

Gosh, what memories! The opening sounds of 'Time' still give me goose flesh!


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

Makes you have to stop and listen, doesn't it!


Yard of nature profile image

Yard of nature 6 years ago from Michigan

I remember seeing Pink Floyd in Detroit, pre-Dark Side of the Moon, and some of the amps blew up stunning some of the band, but they played on. We were in the back of the venue -- it seems like it was Masonic Hall -- and enjoyed all the sense-surround sound experience they were using.


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

Really! Ahhh, I'm jealous. I was born too late :-)

And yet another Michigander. Love it!


Justine76 6 years ago

It took me forever to get back over here, sorry. Looking forwad to the follow up. Ive never tried it, but a college near where I live has a planetarium, and every year they put on a lazer light show to pink floyd, and every once in a while they do the whole Oz thing.


Denno66 6 years ago

Hey Jen. I just mastered the lead solo on Time; it is NOT as easy as it sounds! :) Gilmore was a master of musical subtleties for sure! Great Hub! Thanks for touching on one of my favorite all-time bands. :-)


xunlei profile image

xunlei 6 years ago

Awesome!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Great analysis! I actually saw the group at a gas station years ago - freaked me out!


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

@Denno - I deleted my comment to you. If you read it, you'll know why. :-) I still bow to you, The Master

@ xunei - Thanks for checking it out

@ habee - No kidding! A gas station? LOL that's great, it would have freaked me out too!


Highvoltagewriter profile image

Highvoltagewriter 6 years ago from Savannah GA.

Hello there! I just came across your hub and you did a great job! I happen to have the CD right in front of me why I write this...did you know that Richard Wright, the keyboardist for the band died recently? Also did you know that Alan Parsons (of Alan Parsons project) was the engineer for the Album? Thanks again for that look back at my all time favorite Album! I am now a fan! (Or follower if you prefer)!


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

Hello back!

I'm glad you got a kick out of it.

I've considered doing another "album hub" but frankly, I can't come up with another album that has as much depth. I know of a few that have a singular concept like DSM does, and I can certainly list off other all-time greatest albums, but this one is unique.

:-)


nextstopjupiter profile image

nextstopjupiter 6 years ago from here, there and everywhere

Great hub - a great tribute to a band and to their music


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

Thanks nextstopjupiter!


Isabelle22 profile image

Isabelle22 6 years ago from Somewhere on the coastline

It was great to read this review I own the album and it's probably the greatest album I have in my collection. Thanks.


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

Thanks for giving it a read. Greatest album, indeed. :-)


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

YOU have made my day, wyanjen! Aside from your lovely banter in the forums, this is absolutely a fabulous hub. Duly noted and bookmarked...and you've a new follower.

Thanks for this!


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

I may have to go fire it up and give it a listen right now... lol

This hub was originally 3000 words, believe it or not. When I read it now, it seems clunky and clipped because I cut so much of it out when I published it.

I had put DSM on a loop in iTunes when I started to write it. I figure the album looped at least ten times while I worked. I got completely lost in it... time stopped. It was a great night :)


TheGlassSpider profile image

TheGlassSpider 6 years ago from On The Web

AWESOME HUB! Pink Floyd is my favorite band, so I'll have to say that their "best" album (IMO) is the one I'm listening to at the moment :-) But Dark Side is obviously a heavy hitter, and you've done an excellent job telling the world about it.

My first concert was a Pink Floyd concert--my parents took me! It was the Division Bell tour, and they did ALL of Dark Side-live! Totally amazing.

Anyway, thanks for the Hub and the stroll down memory lane. Keep up the great work!


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

I've been listening to "Wish You Were Here" and "Learning To Fly" this weekend. They are always together in my iTunes. I can't listen to one without the other. :)

I'm so glad you liked my hub. I'm jealous of your first concert - your parents took you? THAT ROCKS! what memories you must have of that night.


northweststarr profile image

northweststarr 6 years ago from Washington State

I am such a closet Pink Floyd listener! Great hub and love the music! Thanx!


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

There's no need to be in the closet LOL

;)


justom profile image

justom 6 years ago from 41042

I've had the pleasure to see Floyd 4 times and the 1st was the DSOM tour. IMO the best live band ever, The last time was the Division Bell tour and I got to take my son Justin. Always a great show!! Check out my hubs for some fun things I've collected over the years that are music related!! Peace!!


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

Wow. cool :)

I didn't even get turned on to it until the 90's. Then again, I was born the year they recorded it, so I missed out on the first release completely lol

Thanks justom!


WE5 profile image

WE5 6 years ago

I bought it when it came out. It was like a breath of something new! Even then, listening to it as a 15 year old boy in the hinterland of western Labrador I knew it was important. I still love this album! I tell my kids (they like it also) that the sound of this album is so unique that if it was released today it would still be fresh and new.


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

It would absolutely be fresh and new.

You'll find plenty of people who are not familiar with this album, but I can't say that I've ever heard a single person say that they've listened to it... but didn't like it.


jj200 profile image

jj200 6 years ago from My Bedroom

Jen, great hub on a great album. If I had to recommend someone to buy one WHOLE album, as opposed to select tracks, this would be it. You're right, it's all necessary, and it makes for a great listening experience, requiring you to just siddown and shuddup. You know?

I got this vinyl album from an old girlfriend for my birthday a few years back after I'd made her sit through listening to it on the computer one day. I was kind of obsessed with it at the time. A fun "stat" I found back then: every minute DSOTM is played somewhere in the world.


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

When I first published this hub, I had the individual tracks linked from Amazon. I saw the error of my ways and took them down.

Actually, PF's contract with EMI has a clause that the tracks cannot be sold individually. There is a legal battle in process.

:)


jj200 profile image

jj200 6 years ago from My Bedroom

That's awesome. Good for them. Making an album full of great songs>making an album with a few hits, says this amateur mathematician.


Uninvited Writer profile image

Uninvited Writer 6 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

Great hub and great album :)


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

I stop just short of saying this is the best album of all time, period. I don't want to upset the Abbey Road people. hee hee


music messenger profile image

music messenger 6 years ago

Great Hub. One of my favorite all time albums. Have you heard the surround version? Stunning! I have some music reviews you might like on my hubs. I think you might enjoy them. I will vote and follow you. Thanks


schoolgirlforreal profile image

schoolgirlforreal 6 years ago from USA

I miss the days (when I was young-teenager and early twenties) I would buy a new album and just listen to the entire thing. Why don't we do that anymore? God, it was great. Technology ruins some of "beauty" I agree

This album, I heard from my brothers. I didn't like any of the music they listened to at first, but this (music) characterizes a time, a place, and people--it's Personality reminds me of people, youth, time; it's timeless, classic ~my fav genre Classic Rock. I learned some new things on this hub. Enjoyed "Money" and I see things more clearly about Pink Floyd. Wish I could go back in time and party with this on loud-those were the days!


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan Author

Hi schoolgirl

The new technology stops artists from writing this type of album in the first place, I think, these days....

No reason not turn turn it up loud right now! lol


Tim Blackstone profile image

Tim Blackstone 5 years ago

What a great hub about a great album. I might just go and play it again now. It's fab


Fullerman5000 profile image

Fullerman5000 5 years ago from Louisiana, USA

this is such a great band and a great album. Great hub.


hanwillingham profile image

hanwillingham 5 years ago

Well-reviewed.

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