Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dark Side of the Moon


Back when I was in Junior High School, our dad, Norm, went to a Life Insurance sales convention that took place in Honolulu, Hawaii. It was the mid-seventies at the time, and when he got back he told Scott and I about this eccentric, tall guy he met at the Honolulu airport while waiting for his flight back to the mainland. Our dad said the guy seemed to be in his thirties, had a house on Maui, but spent time in both Hawaii and London. Our dad spent about an hour with this gentleman and became enthralled by the unique, jet-setting life that he described. He had just left one of his “girlfriends” in Hawaii, and was getting ready to fly back to London.  The two hit it off at the airport, shared a drink at the bar, and eventually wished each other well and went their separate ways. When our dad got back the next day, he asked Scott and myself if we had ever heard of this strange music group called, “Pink something”? Duh, Dad, everyone’s heard of “Pink Floyd”! “Oh really”, asked dad, “well I just spent an hour with one of their members named, “Roger”!

Holy S*#t! Dear mother of God! “Dad, you’re just messing with us, right?”
One degree of separation!  And the maddening part is our dad had no idea who Pink Floyd was nor had he ever heard the name of Roger Waters until 24 hours ago in the Honolulu Airport.  Oh my, can life get any more unfair for my older brother and myself? This just wasn’t right that he could meet Roger Waters himself, while we sat through some dumb math class back home.

This chance encounter was a few years after Floyd had released their epic masterpiece, “Dark Side of the Moon”.  It is one of the true “epic” classic rock albums ever created. I hesitate to even call it rock, because I think it is much more, “mood music” than almost anything else. Waters proposed the idea of the album to the other three members in early 1972 as having a unified theme with lyrical content that included conflict, greed, the passage of time, death, and human conflict. The sound of the entire record is very focused and mesmerizing, and established the band as having one of the most distinctive voices to come out of the 70’s.

Each side of the album is continuous, with every song being tied together by loops, effects, voices, speaking parts, and often eerie and even spooky audio. The entire work is literally breathtaking and complex.  Recorded in Abbey Road studios from mid 1972 through early 1973, it found the four members of Waters, David Gilmoure, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright in a period of working together pretty well. It is well documented that Waters and Gilmoure have had a very contentious relationship over the years, but they seemed to have worked together during the making of, “Dark Side of the Moon”.  It is an album that both members feel was a great piece of work, and was possibly their best as a unit. The album begins and ends with the sound of a heartbeat and explores the nature of the human experience. Classic songs like, “Us and Them, and “Money” became instant hits. The album is filled with lengthy intros, psychedelic tape loops, and echo effects that are pure, “Floyd”. “Time”, was another of the band’s songs that capture the imagination of millions of fans to this day almost 40 years since it’s release.

“Dark Side of The Moon”, became one of the top selling albums of all time. When it was released in of 1973, it only spent one week as the top selling album in the US. The interesting thing about this album was that it just kept selling and selling. It stayed in the billboard album chart for 741 weeks. It reappeared in the Billboard chart in 1991, with the introduction of the Top Pop Catalogue Albums chart. The album has sold over 50 million copies and still sells about 8,000 to 9,000 units each week. In 2006, “The Dark Side of the Moon”, had achieved a total of 1,500 weeks on the Billboard top 200. In the US, one in every fourteen people under the age of 50 is said to own, or have owned, a copy of the album.

The efforts of Pink Floyd in creating, “The Dark Side of the Moon”, has been so sustaining that the numbers are remarkable.  The sound is hypnotic, spacey, repetitive, lengthy, and almost everything that today’s pop songs are not.  But the work of Pink Floyd goes on, and on, and on. With all the royalty checks that continue to roll in for the band members, I’m sure Roger has been able to build on some nice additions to his Hawaii home – one brick at a time!

Eric Winger

*Want to have your own psychedelic Pink Floyd experience? Check out your local planetarium. Many (such as the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City) have light shows set to music by artists such as Pink Floyd and Led Zeplin. No matter your age, it is an experience that is enjoyed by all who see it!

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