Much like the Beatles’ White Album, I’ve always said I’d never write about Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon. Why? Because enough has been said about both of those iconic albums by far greater writers and intellects that I really don’t think I could add any sort of interesting harmony to the already deafening chorus. People have blathered on about these records, their influence and affect on society, and how they’ve molded and blown minds for long enough now, that adding my two cents here would only go to fill up the digital landfill known as the internet with more unnecessary praise, admiration, and fanboy bloviating. We don’t need more fanboy bloviating.
But then on March 1st I happen to hear that Pink Floyd’s iconic stoner classic is now 45 years old(cue up The Wizard of Oz and pack that bowl, man.) 45 years old. It got me thinking about that album and at what point in my life did it transcend from the cool, space-y hippy record to what it actually is. What is it, you ask? You see, I’m of the firm belief that Dark Side Of The Moon is on a level all its own. Meddle began the transformation of Pink Floyd from psych rock, acid party soundtrack band to something far more important and relevant. Dark Side Of The Moon saw them break the mold of a rock and roll band and become something else. It’s not classic rock, but classicist rock. A concept record about mental health that millions of people have used to literally lose their minds to. Ironic? Sad? Both? It’s an absolutely brilliant record in your formative years, but it’s even far more brilliant once you grow up a bit.
For me, though, it all began with Chi-Chis.
Prior to my 18th birthday, Pink Floyd were a mild speck on my musical radar. I heard all the AOR-related tunes and I’d rented The Wall on more than one occasion to see if I could make sense of it. I fawned over David Gilmour’s Strat tone when I first started learning guitar and I often got melancholy whenever I’d hear “Wish You Were Here” on the radio as I thought about someone who was no longer in my life. As far as Dark Side Of The Moon went, “Time” and “Money” were never turned off when they popped up on the radio, but I never thought to look any further. But then one day early in my senior year my older brother(it’s always the older brother, isn’t it?) was playing a dubbed copy of DSOTM in his bedroom and I happened to hear “Us and Them”. That song seemed to grab my ears immediately and I knocked on my brother’s bedroom door. I asked him who he was listening to and he said “It’s Pink Floyd. You’ve never heard this?” I said no, so he shut if off and gave me the tape.
I spent the rest of that week listening to Dark Side Of The Moon in my bedroom and in my car on my way to school, then home from school. Then on my way to work and on my way home from work. My birthday was coming up so I asked for Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon on CD. This was December of 1991, so the CDs were still a pretty rare thing in my world. I think I only had a handful of discs at that time. On my birthday my mom, older brother, my girlfriend and myself drove to Fort Wayne and had my birthday dinner at the now defunct(in the U.S., anyways) Chi-Chis Mexican restaurant. We all had a nice dinner together and then made our way back to home. I laid in my bed trying to fall asleep and I listened to Pink Floyd’s iconic album 2 times all the way thru before I made my way into some deep sleep.
The rest of my senior year evolved around small moments with that album. Usually quiet and reflective moments, except for when I was turning the car stereo up way too loud as “On The Run” or “Brain Damage” came on. Dark Side Of The Moon even came into play in my photography class film short. My friend Shane and I decided to make a film about chaos and disorder(because yeah, what else are we gonna make a movie about?) So we shot various scenes at churches, in the halls of WCHS, interviewed a couple of our favorite teachers, and of course walking thru Oakwood Cemetery. Our photo teacher, Mr. Frauhiger, had recently found out that he was going to be let go because the school didn’t like his teaching style. I guess they didn’t care for the fact that he engaged his students and had an affinity for the outcasts like me. Anyways, he made an appearance in the film. We shot him walking out of the school and throwing his teacher planner in the dumpster as he walked to his small pick-up truck. Our other friend Jason appeared throughout the movie as the representation of chaos and he was sitting in the passenger side of the truck as Frauhiger sped off. Now we had a lot of different songs and sound effects in this. One of my favorites was of me talking about chaos as I spoke through a DOD Flanger pedal from the 70s my uncle gave me. It gave my voice this bizarre and robotic quality that hid the amateurish words I’d put to paper. But the coolest aspect of the film was towards the end where we played Floyd’s “Us and Them” over a montage of students walking the hall of WCHS, various lighted churches at night, and yes, Mr. Frauhiger dumping his teacher planner and making his way off school property with authority.
Honesty, I’ve seen far worse on the Sundance Channel.
Before that scuffed up copy of Dark Side was given to me by my brother, Pink Floyd were just one of those “hippie” bands to me. But once I opened my brain to the record and really understood what that album was about I truly saw the special album it was. From the pristine production and engineering of Alan Parsons, to the near-perfect guitar tones of David Gilmour to the jazz and classical inflections of Richard Wright and Nick Mason to the chaotic, manic world Roger Waters created in the songs. This wasn’t a good time stoner rock record. It wasn’t a vehicle for enhancing a buzz(though, yeah, it did that.) What Dark Side was and is is a huge sonic step to rock and roll artistic integrity. That album proved that you could be rock and roll and still have a very definitive statement. It’s this vague concept that comes across in an intellectual and artistic way. It’s universal and personal at the same time. It’s a journey from start to finish. It’s like the inner workings of madness put to a beautiful score.
But no, I’m not going to write about Dark Side Of The Moon. I’d never do that.