I’ve always been mad, I know I’ve been mad, like the
most of us… very hard to explain why you’re mad, even
if you’re not mad…
Sinister laughs, distant screams and unusual noises scatter Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Sounds fade in and out, especially on On The Run, which ends in a huge crash. During some songs we catch snippets of conversation. There is a real sense of unease, of paranoia, of going mad. Madness seems the central theme of the record to me, culminating in the sweeping choruses of Brain Damage. Roger Waters has said that this was inspired by the mental breakdown of former Pink Floyd frontman Syd Barrett.
The album also explores other broad, universal themes, such as money, time and death. There are no simple tunes about girls. The lyrics often include common sayings and phrases, which give them a sense of familiarity and validity.
“Here today, gone tomorrow”
“Never seem to find the time”
“Money, so they say, is the root of all evil today”
Released in 1973, this was a great period musically and the record combines several different genres brilliantly: Time contains soaring guitar solos reminiscent of Hendrix; Money is built around a funky bassline and a jazzy sax solo; the synthesizer on On The Run is our musical adventure’s first encounter of electronic music; there are psychedelic and experimental moments throughout the record; and they are all played with the sophistication and unusual time signatures of prog. Each side of the record is one continuous piece, as if movements of a symphony, blurring the boundaries between songs.
There are many highlights on this record, but I have to mention the middle four songs. Time begins with the annoying noise of several of alarm clocks going off together and a long sinister intro over a ticking heartbeat, before kicking into a classic rock song. The Great Gig In The Sky is a beautiful contrast between the powerful roaring of Clare Torry and the delicate piano underneath. Money uses a looped sound of cash registers ringing to emphasize the greed in the lyrics. We then float away into Us And Them.
I have a theory the best albums have the best covers. And Dark Side of the Moon certainly has a great cover.