Analysis of Pink Floyd’s Album the Dark Side of the Moon

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Analysis Of Pink Floyd’s Album The Dark Side Of The Moon

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When an artist is writing music they generally are trying to captivate a certain feeling or emotion in the listener. Greed, angst, alienation, and questioning one’s own sanity is all covered in Pink Floyd’s album “the dark side of the moon” When Pink Floyd was founded they went by “Meggadeath” or “Abdabs”. The band was founded by Roger Waters and Nick Mason (the Bassist and Drummer) while they were studying architecture at the London Polytechnic, and later Richard Wright (the Pianist) who was also studying architecture at the time would join the band. After a couple of years Syd Barrett joined to be the lead vocalist, guitarist and song writer. Waters and Barret had been close childhood friends and that helped the transition go smoothly when he joined the band. The band started gaining popularity quickly in the Psychedelic and Progressive rock genre.

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The musicians were put into a lot of pressure and they were struggling to keep putting out tracks at the rate of other popular bands of the time, so naturally they started experimenting with drugs to help inspire them while writing music. They found one drug in particular that helped them be extremely creative and innovative with their sounds, of course that drug would be Acid. Everyone in the band was taking copious amounts of this “Magical Compound” that helped inspire. They did not really have any major problems during this time, except when their lead vocalist and guitarist had a psychotic breakdown from all of the acid in combination with the pressure placed on him as song writer.

During this time the band began to rapidly lose their fan base. At one show they even got booed off the stage because Barret just stopped playing. This meant the band would need to find someone to fill in for Barret because he was being extremely unreliable, and this lead to David Gilmour who was at first only filling in for Barret but would eventually become the lead vocalist, and guitarist. Eventually the band members were getting tired of Barrett’s unreliability and they kicked him out of the band. Without Barrett, who played a huge role in the overall sound of the band, the band did not really have a leader or a distinct sound, and this caused the sound to completely change. Waters would then start to write most of their music. The band then decided to name themselves Pink Floyd because they saw this as an opportunity to reinvent themselves. With Pink Floyd’s band members all sad they used this emotion to write the highest selling album of their career and in 1973 they released “The Dark Side of the moon”.

The album was Pink Floyd’s 18th studio production piece. It stayed on the top one hundred billboard chart for a record breaking 741 weeks and sold worldwide an estimate of fifty million copies. The album cover they decided has a completely black background. On top of that it has a white light hitting a prism and on the right side of the prism is a rainbow lacking indigo. The colors and prism is supposed to represent the colors and lights used in the lights at their shows, but when asked about it the band said “it represents Syd’s mental state”. It was a tribute to the man who made them great at the very beginning. The whole theme of the album is insanity. When the album opens it starts with a heart beat that crescendos, eventually the sound of ticking clocks joins in, which is then accompanied by voices that are talking about going insane. “I’ve been mad for fucking years, absolutely years, been over the edge for yonks, Been working me buns off for bands, I’ve always been mad, I know I’ve been mad, like the most of us, very hard to explain why you’re mad, even if you’re not mad” (Mason 1973). At 1: 09, drum kit, bass, ride-cymbal, guitar and slide guitar all come together in a sound that can only be described as an explosion. The entire album was designed to be one piece. This means that each of the songs lead into another and sound like it is one big song. So after the musical climax of ‘Speak to Me’ comes the smooth jazzy beat of ‘Breathe’ with airy sounds coming from a slide guitar in combination with the lead guitar riff. The narrator of ‘Breath’ seems to be giving advice to a person just born, It seems like a parent talking to their child.

The overall theme of the song is saying people should appreciate life. The first word of the song is “Breathe…Breathe in the air” and this is the narrator saying do not forget to take a break and relax when you are stressed; however, it also is the first action anyone will take when they are born so this adds to the theory that the narrator is speaking to a child or probably a baby. The verse then starts and says “don’t be afraid to care” and this is in reference to many people being to scared to get close to anyone. They are afraid that if they get close they will get hurt. The next verse of the two-verse song discusses how bland the life of work is. “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” This is continuing the point that life is tedious and you don’t get a break, but there is another meaning to it. The continues grinding of day to day life in natural and can be found in nature as well; we were all made to do this no one gets a break. ‘Breathe’ leads into ‘On the Run’ which is clearly going over the pressures of modern life. The whole song sounds like it is at an airport and you can hear plans taking off and landing along with a voice announcing flights, but all of that is in the background.

The main thing you are hearing is heavy breathing and footsteps running, which seems to be someone trying to catch a plane before it leaves. Then someone says “live for today, gone tomorrow” which means the person is living by the “live every day as if it’s your last” philosophy. Right after we hear him say that line we hear loud manic laughter which is then followed by the sound of a plane crashing and the laughter along with all sound cuts out. The next thing you hear is alarms blaring; which means the song ‘Time’ is beginning. In this song Waters was talking about the pressures of time. The song starts with a loop that is extremely bland and repetitive, so repetitive that one loses track of how long it has been playing or how many times it has played. The first verse is talking about wasting time “you fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way, kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown” Life is short make something of it. And the last verse continues this theme. It talks about unfinished work, things we meant to get back to but never will because we don’t have time. After ‘Time’ there is a smooth transition into ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’ which focuses on the fear of dying.

The general sound of the piece is extremely eerie and unsettling. There is a vocalist singing in a gospel style. The whole piece and then beneath her there are whispers through the piece saying things like “ if you can hear this whispering you are dying” when the piece is coming to an end you can hear someone say “I never said I was frightened of dying” The sound stops and out of no where comes the loud racket of cash registers and paper being torn up, which is the start of ‘Money’. In this piece Pink Floyd was talking about materialism. The whole world is run by money, which is why they put the line “Money, it’s a gas” in the piece. The piece also touches on people being selfish with what they have. “I’m alright jack, keep your hands off of my stack”.

At the end of the piece there are random voices talking about the last time they were violent and if they were in the right. This ties the piece together in saying that money causes us to be violent. ‘Us and Them’ then goes on to talk about violence and war. It is from two perspectives; one of them being from a military General, and the other from the Soldier being ordered around by the General. “Forward he cried from the rear and the front rank died, and the General sat, and the lines on the map moved side to side”. While the General was sitting back in safety he was basically ordering the death of hundreds of men. ‘Any Colour You Like’ touches on you being the master of your own universe or at least that’s what people say. When in reality you aren’t, they got the song title idea from henry ford when he was talking about the Model T he said, “You can have any color you like…

As long as its black”. So they were talking about the standards society has set for you to follow. The next song in very emotional for Pink Floyd because it is talking about insanity. This song is a tribute to there original guitarist Syd Barret who suffered of schizophrenia and manic depression. The first verse is talking about childhood and when they sing “Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs, got to keep the loonies on the path” they are talking about maintaining order with rambunctious children. Then they say “the paper holds their folded faces to the floor, and every day the paperboy brings more” This is talking about all of the people who do not have any political vies or a personality really. So many people base most of their lives off of what celebrities are doing. The last song ‘Eclipse’ is the final piece to the album and it ties the whole thing together. The song starts off by listing off everything a person does in their life and it is extremely repetitive and kind of boring, but the most important lines of the song are the very final words in the album. “everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon” After they sing that the music cuts out and transitions into a heartbeat. The heartbeat starts out loud and slowly dies out. The whole album conjures a ton of different emotions; Mostly sad and bleak. The entire album is supposed to summarize life, as it starts with a heartbeat and then speaking to a child and then it ends with a heartbeat that dies out. The overall message of the album is that life is short and we should enjoy it while we can.

Works cited

  1. Harris, J. C. (2006). Pink Floyd and Philosophy: Careful with that Axiom, Eugene! Open Court Publishing.
  2. Mabbett, A. (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. Omnibus Press.
  3. Mason, N. (2005). Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd. Phoenix.
  4. Povey, G. (2007). Echoes: The Complete History of Pink Floyd. Mind Head Publishing.
  5. Schaffner, N. (1991). Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey. Harmony Books.
  6. Guesdon, J., & Margotin, P. (2017). Pink Floyd All The Songs: The Story Behind Every Track. Running Press.
  7. Blake, M. (2008). Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd. Da Capo Press.
  8. Fitch, V. (2011). Pink Floyd: The Music and the Mystery. Crossfire Publications.
  9. Edmondson, J. (2013). The Music of Pink Floyd. Oxford University Press.
  10. Manning, T. (2006). The Rough Guide to Pink Floyd. Rough Guides.

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