Thursday, March 27, 2003

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Couldn't let the week go by without noting the 30th anniversary of that melancholy masterpiece, Pink Floyd's 1973 effort Dark Side of the Moon, which was, according to both Rolling Stone and Susan over at Easy Bake Coven, this Tuesday past. Rolling Stone even has an online section which features links to articles about the album. You can go here for most of an excellent article reprinted from Mojo magazine.

I'll never forget the first time I heard DSotM. It was sometime late in 1973, and I was in the audio equipment department at Sears, where a salesman was demonstrating a then brand new Quadrophonic sound system to a customer. I was standing there just looking around while my Mom shopped. He put on a copy of a record with an interesting cover, solid black except for a whitish blue (or bluish white) prism in the middle which refracted a narrow, solid white beam of light into a rainbow of color that extended to the edge of the black field. I was intrigued, and listened to what appeared to be airport noise and a clock ticking in the distance. Suddenly- alarm clocks loudly went off all around me, startling me at first but when I realized what was going on I relaxed and fell in love with the song, which was named (appropriately enough) Time. And the guitar solo. Oh man. It absolutely blew me away, and still gives me chills to this day. I asked the salesman to leave it on after he had finished with the customers and so I was able to hear the side closer The Great Gig in the Sky as well. Again, this was something unlike anything I had ever heard before...a single female voice wailing soulfully over a echoey, solitary piano and intermittent band accompaniment for about 6 minutes. I was transfixed by this as well, and flat out begged my parents to get me this album before we went home!

And I listened to it a lot over the next few months, really liking other tracks such as Breathe, the elegant Us and Them, and of course the smash hit Money. I was gratified to know that I had heard that song before it started getting heavy airplay. Eventually, though, I kinda tired of the album's melancholy, languid feel and moved on to other music. And honestly, at first I wasn't all that impressed with the successor Wish You Were Here, which came out two years later (an eternity to wait, back then, for an album), so my nascent Floyd fanaticism was nipped in the bud. Later on, I came to appreciate Wish, and actually consider it their best album now. I also eventually heard Moon predecessor Meddle and liked it a lot as well. But by the time they got around to releasing the dull (in my opinion anyway) Animals and the overblown, self-pitying Wall, I really didn't care for the Floyd (by then pretty much just Roger Waters) at all. I did later discover Syd Barrett and that whole sad story, but that's another column. "Bike" is a cool tune, I will say that much...

These days, they're all old, out of ideas, irrelevant and barely worth paying attention to, except as a concert attraction where knuckleheaded stoner Floyd fans will always queue up and shell out big bucks to see the pig fly overhead and see that huge ring of lights. The feud, which has led to Waters dismissing the other three (who then carried on gamely but uninspiredly under the Floyd name) and going solo, just seems silly and childish 20 plus years later.

But Dark Side remains a remarkable acheivement and an album that I still listen to on occasion, and I think it's kinda cool that it still inspires discussion after all these years. Many of its glum observations about life and love, greed and paranoia, still ring true today.

"Long you live and high you fly
And smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be"