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Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon" is one of the most popular classic rock hits of the twentieth century. Recorded between 1972 and 1973, the album was first performed in 1973 to a largely ecstatic audience worldwide. From the album, there were significant tunes that topped music charts including the Billboard chart with the songs "Money" and "Us and Them" making significant points in the chart. The album has been on the chart for more than 900 weeks, a record for any rock album, thus the title of the greatest rock album of all time as was mentioned by the Rolling Stone in 2018 (Rolling Stone). The album has been extensively lauded for its in-depth lyrical content that in every masterpiece song. With Roger Waters as the primary lyricist, every side of the collection forms a continuous music piece (Floyd). The five tracks in each side underscore the various stages of human life and begin and end with a heartbeat. Generally, the central theme of the song tells of the human experience and empathy.
The songs “Speak to Me” and “Breathe” are written to stress the futile and mundane elements of life that are associated with the ever-existent threat of psychopathy and madness (O’Donnell 90). They are particularly written to underline the essence of living one's life. "Speak to Me" in particular, is a one-minute piece that does not necessarily qualify to be referred to as a song. It may be described as a classical experimental piece that has all the elements of a teaser and fragmented sonic reference to the forthcoming of the other songs of the band. One can hear a cash register, ticking clock, crazy laughter, and the scream of a woman. These elements are all interwoven in the sound of a pulsing heartbeat and futzing kick drum. Besides, all these elements all refer to specific elements that underscore the very existence of human beings of a person on earth. For instance, the clock refers to time, cash register symbolizes money, crazy laughter is a sign of brain damage, and the woman's scream symbolizes the surreal nature of the heavens. It is also prudent to note that the symbols are the titles of the songs in the album such as "Time," "Money," "Brain Damage," and "The Great Gig in the Sky." The same sounds heard at the beginning of the song are also present at the end of the album to show that the entire album is a cycle. The lyrics "I've been mad for… years, been over the edge for yonks" highlight the very essence of madness and the effects that the individual may feel. "Very hard to explain when you're mad, even if you're not mad" show that madness is an effect that is unexplainable. At the end of the verse, there is hilarious laughter to underscore the madness referred to in the stanza.
"Breathe" is essentially a song that starts with the feeling of freedom. It is often combined with "Speak to Me" is a single song. It begins by explaining the feeling of freedom and living individually. The lyrics "Breathe, breathe in the air, Don't be afraid to care" show that one should live their life without fear. It is a song that shows how one should go about their daily lives while avoiding the madness that is elaborated in the first song of the album. The writer states that "look around, choose your ground…is all your life will ever be." In this stanza, the song shows the aspect of empathy and emotions that one feels as they live their life. This is the aspect of empathy that Roger Waters described in an interview with the Rolling Stone. While the song "Breathe" takes the listener through the surreal emotional nature of the daily human lives, it is quite apparent that the next song is an inversion of the same. It takes the listener to the fast life of stress and anxiety which is often felt with modern travel. "On the Run" is extensively a non-vocal piece that stands out in the album. In the song, one hears footsteps racing from one side to the other and other explosions and malevolent rumbles in the background. This song is typically a contrast to the central theme of the album which is mostly made to help the listener to realize the essence of escaping the madness around them and living their life without anxiety and stress. Perhaps the constant pacing in the music and the attempt to elude the explosions and the rumbles are symbolic of the aspect of escaping the madness and living without the stress that may lead to it. Shifting the scene to an airport is a synthetic draw to the typical life in the modern world especially in the United States.
"Time" is a song that examines the different ways that individuals may decide to control their life. The song begins with explaining how one would waste their day before racing to accomplish what they would want to do within the remaining time before the sun sets. It begins with the lyrics "Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day…Waiting for someone or something to show you the way." These words show how one would waste away their time. However, it also offers a warning to those people who choose to remain adamant on the mundane aspects of life, before retreating into a life of withdrawal, isolation, and solitude having wasted the day away. It ends with a reprisal of the song "Breathe." The end of this side of the album is marked by the song "The Great Gig in the Sky." This song begins with the lines "Am I not frightened of dying, any time will do." as the fifth song of the album, the song begins with a rather mundane topic of death. It also shows that while people may fear death, there is no essence of fearing death as everyone would die one day. Besides, the title of the song is a show of the belief that after death one may go to heaven. The ‘great gig in the sky’ referred to in the title of the song is a reminiscence of heaven and the fact that there would be in the spiritual word. The five lines song is a perfect close to the first side of the music.
"Money" begins the second side of the song. The song begins with the sound of the cash register and some coins. It is an allusion to the culture of consumerism in the twentieth century. It begins with the words “Money, get away, Get a good job with good pay and you’re okay.” These words show the way a person in a consumer society lives. Consumerism is an ideology that encourages consumption and as such, the more an individual owns, the more likely they are to afford a lot of things. In this light, having a lot of money coming from a good job means that one can afford anything they would like including "a football team" that is stated at the end of the stanza. The song then proceeds with some tongue-in-cheek lyrics to mock the system of consumerism.
Having described most of the aspects of the physical and economic aspects of human life and experience, the next song in the album "Us and Them" is a song that highlights the social and emotional aspects of human life. The song talks about the effects of depression and isolation as well as the simple dichotomies that exist in personal relationships including conflicts. The song simply elaborates the forces that are present in any conflict. The line "God only knows it's not what we would choose to do" points to the fact that the two forces are not willing to be in the war but are only forced into it by circumstances. However, the general concept of the song is that "after all, we're all ordinary men." The concept of how people in a society relate is also seen in the song "Any Color you like." The song is an examination of the lack of choice that exists in human society. Any color you like is a non-vocal song with instrumentals with a keyboard and guitar solos. This song has various interpretations with some suggesting that it is a piece of advice to the listeners to make their own choices since they are the masters of their destinies and can choose to make it any color they like.
"Brain Damage" underscores the effects of fame and the anxieties and the stresses of life. In particular the words "and if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes" is a recap of the mental breakdown that was experienced by Syd Barret, a former band member (Watkinson and Anderson 30). The last song of the album is "Eclipse" which examines the concepts of unity and alterity and encourages the audience to be aware of the commonality in humanity. The common traits of humanity are what brings the aspect of unity in the experiences of daily life.
In a nutshell, "The Dark Side of the Moon" is an album that explores the theme of the daily experiences of human beings. From the first song to the last one, various paradigms of human life are explored such as emotions, social life, economy, and even the political landscape. The song is a continuous cycle of elaboration of the life events. This aspect is shown by the way the beginning and the end of the song are alike. The song begins and ends with the heartbeat with every title of the song elaborating the various aspects of the human experience. Eventually, the last song is a call to action. It shows that the experiences are universal and the fact that there is no need for conflict in the journey of life. It brings the listener to appreciate the shared experiences of humanity and stay united.
FLOYD’S, P. I. N. K. "The dark side of the moon." (2012).
O’Donnell, Shaugn. "'On the path': tracing tonal coherence in The Dark Side of the Moon." 'Speak to Me': The Legacy of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon. Routledge, 2017. 87-103.
Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. The Rolling Stone. Accessed 16/12/2018. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/pink-floyds-dark-side-of-the-moon-10-things-you- didn't-know-201743/.
Watkinson, Mike, and Pete Anderson. Crazy Diamond: Syd Barret e o surgimento do Pink Floyd. Sonora Editora, 2014.
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