The Dark Side of the Moon at 50 Remains a Timeless Gem

Missing the actual March 1 date wasn’t how I had envisaged celebrating it, but at the end of the day, I simply couldn’t ignore the 50th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon– especially after I had found myself with some unexpected extra time to write a dedicated post about one of my favorite albums. Limiting myself to a brief song inclusion in yesterday’s installment of my Sunday Six recurring feature would have been pretty measly!

The Dark Side of the Moon is one of the rare albums I can think of that hasn’t lost any of its magic since its release on March 1, 1973. To start with, it continues to be a sonic gem to this day, which has aged very well. Moreover, while greed, division and mental disease, to name some of the topics the concept album explores, have existed since the beginning of mankind, these issues remain relevant today, arguably more than ever.

Since so much has been written about this album (once again, I’d like to call out fellow blogger Vinyl Connection’s outstanding recent post), I’ve decided to keep this upfront tight and mostly focus this post on the music. I also made the deliberate choice not to contribute to the over-exposure of Money, even though I still dearly love this tune. I will also skip the excellent Us And Them, since I just featured that track in my aforementioned Sunday Six.

Let’s start taking a closer look at the music with Breathe (In the Air), the second track on Side one (in vinyl speak!). Like all other tunes, the lyrics were written by Roger Waters, the mastermind behind the concept of an album to explore dark aspects of human existence. Come to think of it, “The Dark Side of the Human Condition” would have been an apt alternative title, though the chosen option much better captures the spacy sound. The music for Breathe was composed by Richard Wright and David Gilmour, Pink Floyd’s keyboarder and guitarist, respectively. Songfacts notes Breatheis about an older man speaking to a baby, telling it to breathe. The old man then describes the unfortunate working life the baby will have to face: “Run, rabbit, run. Dig that hole, forget the sun.” The song implies that we need to overcome these messages and do what inspires us.

Once you hear the ticking clocks, you know it’s time for, well, Time. The album’s only track credited to all four members of Pink Floyd (including drummer Nick Mason) deals with the topic of mortality. From Songfacts: This song is about how time can slip by, but many people do not realize it until it is too late. Roger Waters got the idea when he realized he was no longer preparing for anything in life, but was right in the middle of it. He had just turned 28. Songfacts also notes the layers of clock noises were put together by Alan Parsons, who served as the album’s production engineer. The sounds of each clock were recorded separately at an antiques store and subsequently were blended together – quite a feat!

Side one closes with the magnificent The Great Gig in the Sky, which I simply couldn’t skip. The track’s key feature are extraordinary vocals by Clare Torry, a British singer who had been brought in by Parsons. “She had to be told not to sing any words,” Parsons told Rolling Stone in March 2003, as documented by Songfacts. “When she first started, she was doing ‘Oh yeah baby’ and all that kind of stuff, so she had to be restrained on that. But there was no real direction – she just had to feel it.” Torry rightfully ended up receiving a writing credit for her powerful contribution. This track continues to give me chills, even though I must have listened to it more than 100 times over the decades!

Let’s move on to Side two. As previously noted, I’m skipping Money and Us And Them, which also became the album’s two singles. Instead, I’d like to call out the two final tracks, which were each written and composed by Waters. First up is Brain Damage. Songfacts observes This is probably about insanity, something the band was quite familiar with. To me, there’s no doubt this tune is about mental disease! Songfacts adds, The line, “And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes” is a specific reference to Syd Barrett’s propensity for playing the wrong song on stage during his “episodes” towards his final days with Pink Floyd, which subsequently led to his dismissal. It’s really sad what certain drugs can do!

This leaves me with the final track titled Eclipse. It seamlessly follows Brain Damage, essentially making both tunes one song. From Songfacts: The album was well into production but didn’t have an ending until Roger Waters came up with the song. It reprises some lyrics to the opening track “Breathe” (“All that you touch, all that you see”) before closing out the album with the words, “There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact it’s all dark.” Songfacts adds the closing statement was spoken by Gerry O’Driscoll, the doorman at London’s Abbey Road Studios, where this masterpiece was recorded. I think it’s safe to assume this makes Driscoll the most popular doorman most of the album’s listeners aren’t aware they know. I was one of them!

Following is a Spotify link to the album. If you own headphones, I highly recommend using them!

The Dark Side of the Moon has sold more than 45 million copies worldwide, which according to Wikipedia makes it the best-selling album of the ’70s and the forth-best selling in history after Michael Jackson’s Thriller (70 million), AC/DC’s Back in Black (50 million) and the soundtrack of The Bodyguard (45 million). A Billboard story published in March 2013 for the album’s 40th anniversary reported, Despite only reaching the No. 1 spot for one solitary week, the album continues to hold the record for the most weeks charted on the Billboard 200 (over 800 weeks!) and was a constant feature on the Billboard 200 from its initial release until 1988 – returning to the chart in late 2009 after Billboard revised its chart eligibility rules regarding older releases.

A look at the current Billboard 200 (week of March 4) reveals The Dark Side of the Moon at no. 155 with a total of now 972 weeks on the chart – that’s the equivalent of approximately 18.5 years! I imagine the upcoming March 24 reissue box-set The Dark Side of the Moon 50th Anniversary, if anything, is going to breathe in (no pun intended!) additional life for this amazing album!

Sources: Wikipedia; Songfacts; Billboard; YouTube; Spotify

12 thoughts on “The Dark Side of the Moon at 50 Remains a Timeless Gem”

  1. Thank you for the worth reading post. In my lunch break I read in my newspaper an article about this album. Some facts are the same you have written in your blogpost.

    I am too young for Pink Floyd, but there’s no age limitation listening to their music.
    Although I never saw them live I had the luck to see two very good Austrian tribute bands (I also wrote about them in my blog) and five years ago they celebrated 45 years of “Dark Side Of The Moon”. “Us And Them”, “The Great Gig In The Sky” and “Brain Damage” were my live favourites.

    Shine On!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. an incredible album that still sounds great today and a rarity in being one that really needs to be listened to entirely to fully appreciate… it kind of irks me when a radio station will play one track and it just suddenly ends. Though rock, it’s put together like a symphony. I’m glad you mention a few of the things Alan PArsons did for the record, as I’ve said elsewhere, he kind of got ripped off in not being listed as ‘producer’ when he brought so much to the record.
    As for me, will pull it out and listen to it again real soon… but won’t be bothering with the Roger Waters Big Ego new version he’s put out so we can hear it without Gilmour’s contribution etc.
    One of my 2 favorite albums of the decade, and the other one also hits 50 later this year, ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Firstly, a masterpiece. Full stop. And I don’t use that word lightly. I still remember gettng high with friends and listening to it shortly after it was released. Dave mentioned Waters’ Big Ego version. Yes. He’s gotten tremendosly arrogant and self-serving over the years. In his telling of the story, the other guys weren’t much more than sidemen to him. Here’s an article on that from The Guardian. We hear him ruining a remake of “Us and Them” because he can only talk-sing. Hey, I like Waters. Went to see him last year. But give it a rest, pal. As Nick Mason says there’s more to creating an album than just the writing.


    1. Wow, sounds pretty underwhelming! I knew of Waters’ intention to record a solo remake of the album, but had not heard any music yet.

      If there’s one thing I could change in rock, which also applies to other genres, it would be the abolishment of obnoxious egos!

      Yes, some degree of creative tension is health my to push a band forward, but what Waters is doing and what some of his peers have done in the past is highly destructive.

      Yes, I believe it’s fair to say Roger Waters came up with “Dark Side’s” concept, and he obviously wrote all of the lyrics.

      But the same is not true for the music, much which was written with other Floyd members. Plus, even if Waters had composed all of the music as well, he obviously didn’t play all instruments. So, yes, it’s ridiculous to treat his former band mates as an afterthought.

      The partial reveal of his solo version of “Us And Them” provides compelling illustration that the sum was much more than the individual!

      Waters is a very accomplished artist. It’s kind of sad that at this late stage of his career he risks tarnishing his legacy with what really looks like a silly superego trip!


      1. Thanks, Jim. I feel there’s already so much negativety around us, especially in the news and on social media, so I’m trying to keep things on the blog as positive as possible, at least when it comes to content I’m proactively publishing as opposed to (reactively) commenting on something.

        That said, I really don’t understand why an accomplished artist like Roger Waters would risk making a fool of himself, especially at this stage in his career! Why would you end it on a low note?


  4. It was an important album for Pink Floyd and an important one for my teenager self at the time. It’s one I’d lay on the floor in the middle of the room and let the sound of it absorb into my being. The music was nice and spacy and the lyrics gave timeless of advice no matter what age you might be. There were so many cool special effects in there as well. Love Torrey’s vocals that are otherworldly good. Nice write-up, Christian.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, I must have listened to “Dark Side” more than 100 times since I first heard it in the mid ’70s. It’s another record I initially came to love based on the music only – I didn’t understand English at the time!

      To me, the best way to experience “Dark Side” is to use headphones. That’s when that spacy sound and the special effects really come out! As a teenager, I listened to it many times at night in bed, using headphones.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can see why your bonded with the album. I had quadrophonic speakers in the corners so I got the effects. Not even sure headphones existed back then, at least in my world.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. While at some point I had a pretty decent stereo and loudspeakers (definitely better than what I have now!), I never had quadrophonic speakers. I imagibe that must sound cool. I did have decent headphones in my late teens. Nowadays, I have a mortgage and a family! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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