Pink Floyd's greatest album | The Dark Side of the Moon, analyzed
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.
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.
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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.
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.
- Pink Floyd | The Official Site
The official Pink Floyd site
- Pink Floyd Online
Comprehensive and Interactive fan site. Some features include Pink Floyd news, chat, message board, lyrics, discography, guitar tabs and more.
- Roger Waters International Fan Club Home Page
International Fan club for Roger Waters, founder and former leader, writer, lyricist and creative genius of Pink Floyd
© 2009 wyanjen at HubPages
Pink Floyd's greatest album | The Dark Side of the Moon, analyzed
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