Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon

Q. Why did Al Quaeda, under the direction of Mr. Osama Bin Laden, burn, in a public town square in Kabul, Afghanistan, over 10,000 copies of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon album?

A. Because it’s a horrible album

– Neil Hamburger

But thaaaaaaaaaat's my lifeYou know, for most of my life, I would agree with my favorite comedian on that remark, but since giving it yet another shot, I have decided I actually quite like Pink Floyd’s most famous album. Yes, I know the album doesn’t exactly need my acceptance, but I feel it worthy of mentioning for the purposes of this tiny, unreadable blog.

See, I bought this album based on the advice of everyone ever at Wal*Mart during my brief tenure of employment there. Believing myself to be a fan of “that sort of thing”, since you know, every band I totally like nowadays owe it all to this album and everything, I figured it would be a life-changing album of extraordinary magnitude.

Turns out it was too boring to listen to all the way through.

Yeah, my teenaged self wasn’t impressed with Dark Side Of The Moon. I believe this is due to a condition I have decided to call Sgt. Pepper Syndrome. See, when an album so ingrained into the cultural mindset is experienced for the first time by someone who is ridiculous disconnected from the mainstream (i.e. yours truly, at least for most of my life), and that product is judged by its own merit without any context or knowledge, that thing could be judged harshly and, often, wrongfully. Of course, enjoyment of music is a subjective thing, but someone like me apparently appreciates context. In order to appreciate Pink Floyd in general, I had to know exactly where they stood against all the other acts of the day, and how their sound evolved from what it was to this album. In doing so, I have gained what I would consider a healthy appreciation for the making of this album.

Of course, like with the other “best album of all time” with which I’ve had this experience, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles, I still call to question whether this album is truly as remarkable as everyone makes it out to be, considering the context and history. Something about this album had to have failed to pique my interest in the first place, and all the lengthy, lengthy Wikipedia entries on the album and each individual song (which I spent all last night reading word-for-word, mind you) can’t remedy that.

Don’t get me wrong, internet, I really enjoy this album, especially now that I’ve a wider perception of music in general, especially in that most sacred era of the 60’s and early 70’s. Considering this album utilizes sounds (particularly in the synth and guitar department) that wouldn’t be heard for another 15 years or so, and even then with far less class, it’s quite a feat.

However, it’s no accidental feat. I am almost sure I’ve heard tell of albums into which more blood, sweat, and tears were drained, but I can’t recall a single one. The Dark Side Of The Moon was an incredibly concerted effort by all the members of Pink Floyd (not just the bassist, as apparently would become the trend in later albums), and it really shows. For being an album presumably about mental illness and chaos and the darkness of the soul, it’s an album that reeks of polish, especially compared to earlier works.

It’s kind of interesting, in listening to this album that spent 14 years in the charts, that it sounds like it does. Not because it’s “weird”, I actually consider this one of the most sensible albums (long instrumental breaks notwithstanding) that the band has put out, but because it’s so drawn out.

Like many albums of its kind, it’s basically about 4 songs drawn out to feature length, using anything it can to keep the songs going, like in the case of  “Time” and “The Great Gig In The Sky”, in which an R&B singer apparently goes through 4 1/2 minutes of a Brazilian Wax performed by a porcupine in a roller coaster. It just feels like there is a lot of empty space in the album, especially since the thing is so damned cohesive you only seem to ever notice the song changing when one of the in-your-face sound effect introductions ushers in the next thing (the money-clanging between “The Great Gig In The Sky” and “Money” startles me every time).

Those 4 songs that are drawn out to lengths unimaginable are still damn fine songs, of course, it’s just mysterious to me and I think everyone else involved that this album did so well. I can understand the appeal, I mean it’s those Pink Floyd weirdos doing straight songs with understandable, straight-forward lyrics and only slightly confusing musicality. I mean, “Money” may have 7/4 timing, which is very confusing, but the guitar solo is done in God’s own 4/4 timing, because really who wants to do a guitar solo in 7/4. Ok I can name one guitarist but I won’t.

For me, it’s certainly less boring than when I used to be more musically narrow-minded, but still nowhere near what I consider the “best” album, not even of Pink Floyd’s career. Personally, I’m still more into their earliest stuff, particularly with Syd Barrett, and I think it’s probably because I don’t need to hear an album about insanity, but instead find Syd’s actual insanity perpetuated through the music he wrote to be far more interesting.

Still, the evolution of the band to this stage was a necessary one, and definitely a good one. It was kind of an abrupt jump going from Ummagumma to this album, but we’ve precious little time left on this blog and I don’t have any of the albums between that one and this one, so until I suddenly run into more Pink Floyd albums, this may be my last word on them for the blog proper. Indeed:

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say



2 Responses

  1. Best description of the Great Gig in the Sky I’ve ever read. Syd Barrett is still unlistenable though.

  2. Despite not sleeping for 24 hours and being woefully behind on even deciding what album to write about today (yesterday), while listening to this album for the 14th time on the way to work, “Great Gig In The Sky” was the only thing I just knew I had to talk about.

    Syd Barrett’s unlistenable, yeah, but I guess that’s why I like him.

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