50 years age this week, Pink Floyd released The Dark Side of the Moon. On March 1 to be exact.
It was the band’s eighth studio album and included their first hit single, Money. The Dark Side of the Moon has sold over 50 million copies worldwide, spent over 900 weeks on the Billboard charts, and is ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the greatest rock albums of all time.
It’s certainly my favorite album of all time.
The iconic cover, designed by the late Strom Thorgerson of Hipgnosis, featuring a prism spectrum, is instantly recognizable anywhere.
I think I was a high school freshman when I first heard the album, most likely at my friend Lou’s house. He had his own rock band and a basement full of guitars, amps and recording equipment.
Dark Side was like nothing I’d ever heard before: Claire Torry’s amazing vocals on The Great Gig in the Sky, coins and cash registers making the opening rhythms of Money, and clocks doing the same thing on Time, and the innovative use of VCS3 synthesizers. The whole idea of a “concept album” was new to me.
The album opened me up to a whole new genre of music. I lost interest in Top 40 radio and its rigid 3-minute song format. I started following more alternative bands like Yes, The Alan Parsons Project and Jean-Michel Jarre. And of course I dove into other Pink Floyd albums like Ummagumma, Meddle, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall.
Being a Pink Floyd fan became part of my teenage identity. The Dark Side of the Moon was one of the first albums I ever bought, first on vinyl and then a few decades later on CD. Now I can listen to it on Spotify. My kids love it too. My son even had a prism spectrum t-shirt which I proudly inherited as a “hand-me-up” when he grew out of it.
Pink Floyd’s concerts were legendary, especially for their noise. An urban myth claims that a 1971 concert in London was so loud it killed all the fish in a nearby pond. There’s a species of shrimp called Synalpheus pinkfloydi that can kill its enemies with a 210-decibel clicking sound from its claw. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see them live until after Roger Waters had left the band so I feel like I didn’t get the genuine ear-shattering experience.
My favorite song on the album is Time, because of the lyrics and Nick Mason’s epic drumming.
And you run, and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.
Now that I am older, the desperate urgency of that message resonates louder than ever.
You wouldn’t say The Dark Side of the Moon is an uplifting or hopeful album. The songs are about greed, and conflict and especially about mortality. But though “long you live and high you fly,” inevitably you’ll face these things at some point in your life. The album has such enduring universal appeal because even when it seems like “everything under the sun is in tune,” there’s still a dark side of the moon for all of us.
But if it’s any consolation, “there is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark.”
Well shared 👌