On March 1st, 1973, one of the greatest albums of all-time was released. What would remain in the Billboard Top LPs & Tapes for fifteen years from 1973 to 1988, The Dark Side of the Moon went off to sell forty-five million copies, becoming one of the best sellers worldwide. One might ask: Why was this piece of art so successful?
What was so special about this album is that every song on the album relates to one another. This idea is known as a concept album, and Pink Floyd produced many concept albums. But this one was the most special because the concept of Dark Side of the Moon is literally DARK. Not only are the song related to one another, but every song fades into one another meaning that there is music constantly playing. Of course if we were in 1973 or if you play vinyl like me, you would have to flip the disc after listening to “The Great Gig in the Sky” in order to listen to the rest of the album. But Pink Floyd embraced this fault in the technology at the time and began the second side of the LP with “Money.” But we’ll get to that later. The first side of the album is about living a life that goes unfulfilled while the second side is focused more on ideas that corrupt and destroy society. So what is the subject matter of The Dark Side of the Moon?
The concept of The Dark Side of the Moon is the darkness of humanity that destroys all positive emotions and ideas that are essential to humanity. Every single song is related to one another because each song is about an idea that drives people to insanity.
To start, the first song named “Speak to Me” on the album acts as an introduction of the entire album. At the very beginning, you can hear a heart beat that foreshadows the next song, “Breathe (In the Air).” Then, you can hear voices that are discussing the issue of insanity. Progressively, you start to hear cash register noises foreshadowing “Money” and clocks that foreshadow “Time.” As the song leads into “Breathe”, you can hear a voice laughing like a psychotic foreshadowing “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse.”
The next song, “Breathe (In the Air)” is about riding the tide. If you listen closely, you will be able to tell that this song gives off two perspectives that humans live off of: a chooser and a rabbit. The chooser symbolizes those who don’t ride the tide and only see what they want to see, which is very limiting. On the other hand, the rabbit symbolizes those who do ride the tide. The problem with those who ride the tide is that these people are laborers like the rabbits are hole diggers. These problems suggest that it may be better to be a chooser than a rabbit. In other words, a free thinker rather than one who is told what to think.
Although the next song “On the Run” contains no lyrics, the instruments and noises symbolize anxiety and stress, and how both mental illnesses can be detrimental to a person’s life.
This leads to the next song, “Time”. This song is about wasting a life doing boring and senseless activities. Hence, the clock noises at the beginning of the song may be used to wake people up to live their life the way they want to instead of what society wants them to do.
The song that follows “Time” is “Breathe (Reprise)”. What this song symbolizes is that people do find relief in the darkness of the world in the safety of their homes and religion. But as the lyrics imply, these “institutions” are corrupting as well.
The song that leads to the ending of the first side of the album is “The Great Gig in the Sky.” This song’s concept is death. As the end of this song approaches, it implies that you are either afraid of dying or you are not.
Like I mentioned earlier, in 1973, now would be the time to flip the LP to the second side. And that is exactly what I doing here in this text.
“Money” kicks off the second side with a completely new feel and concept. Up to “Money”, the track had featured no breaks and Pink Floyd took advantage of this fault in the technology perfectly by adding a hit to their album that was both funky and catchy. In fact, it became the most popular song on the entire album. The concept of “Money” is greed. Furthermore, it is about how having an excess of wealth to be happy is nothing but an illusion. The song focuses on consumerism, the lengths people will go to protect money and other possessions of theirs, and the idea that there will never be an equal amount of money between ordinary and wealthy people. Lastly, “Money” leads into the next song “Us and Them”.
Since “Us and Them” is about war, it can be inferred that money is a cause of war. What “Us and Them” symbolizes is that no matter what causes the conflict, two sides develop and fight each other. What “Us and Them” offers to this problem is that there can always be more than two choices. Like colors, there are more colors than just black and white. Therefore, there are always multiple sides of a conflict, instead of just two. Also implied in this song is the idea that those who are in power are safe from fighting in the war while the working class gets killed in serving to their rulers.
The next song is “Any Color You Like”. Whats unique about this song is that it is the only track on the album with no singing nor noises. This song further emphasizes the concept of “Us and Them”, the concept about how life is not black and white, by implying that there are many choices to how to live a fulfilled life.
The song then leads into “Brain Damage”, which is about losing your mind and going insane. On one hand, a chooser can’t align his or her beliefs because he resists the ideas discussed on the second side of the album. Because a chooser resists theses ideas, he or she may seem insane. But those who ride the tide may be insane because they follow the ideas discussed in all of the songs on the second side. Therefore, whether you ride or resist the tide, you will be insane.
Then comes the final song on The Dark Side of the Moon, “Eclipse.” If “Speak to Me” acted as the introduction, “Eclipse” acts as the summary and the conclusion. “Eclipse” implies that all that we see, touch, hear, taste, smell, and feel affects our perception of the world and what we experience may be an illusion, corrupted, or tainted.
So I have answered what the concept of the Dark Side of the Moon. But why am I answering this question forty-four years later? What I will discuss in later blogs includes my opinion about what makes music great. In my opinion, what makes music great is how untimely music can be. And Dark Side of the Moon is very untimely. Money continues to corrupt people, wars and conflicts continue to divide people, and people are insane beings, after all
For example, money continues to corrupt people. Our society here in America continues to embrace consumerism. You can see consumerism in action just by walking on State Street. People endlessly buying clothing, food, new phones, new vehicles, etc. in order to satisfy the need of spending money and buying an excess amount of something.
Money also continues to divide people. Like the concept implies in the album, the wealthy will always have more money than ordinary working people. For example, this split is occurring currently in the United States. The idea that the wealthy will always have more money than ordinary working people is supported by conservatives because they hold that if a small group of people gains money, the entire population benefits. This is relevant to our country today because the United States government is now controlled by a conservative party, republicanism. Many of the decisions on tax breaks that President Trump is making is based on that conservative belief. While many of you would bark about Trump at this point, I am not about to do that. Instead, I’m going to suggest what I learned from “Us and Them” and “Any Color You Like.” Life is not black and white. There is always more than two sides. In the 2016 presidential election, there was more than just two choices weren’t there?
Nonetheless, the Dark Side of the Moon is one of the greatest albums of all-time. No other album has ever had such a unique concept and such untimely, connected, deep and beautiful music like Dark Side of the Moon has which is what made the album so successful. If you haven’t listened, make sure you put it on your bucket list.