It’s not easy to talk about The Dark Side of the Moon.
Is it still possible to have a new, or at least different, opinion of a work that has been literally vivisected from its very first appearance until today? Is there anything that can be added to the debate, which is not a simple repetition of what has already been expressed?
Maybe not. But it is still worth to spend two words to celebrate this masterpiece.
Let’s start from the end, then. From last seconds of the record.
A beating heart and the voice of the Irish porter of the Abbey Road studios that tells us:
“There is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact it’s all dark .”
Perhaps random words from an elderly custodian, who in a daily context would slip away in the flow between one speech and another.
But not here. They remain well printed in the mind, like a sudden epiphany, as if, in the end, we should have guessed it by ourselves, like we always knew it. But we haven’t realized it until someone pointed it out, while the needle continues to run on the last microscopic furrows before the end of the album.
It must be a feeling they many of us had.
Of course this album is practically in everybody’s homes (or at least on the hard disks). It’s worth to apply that method revealed by Lester Bangs, who used to look in the record collection of every house he visited, trying to spot The Velvet Underground’s White Light / White Heat and judge how used it looked, in order to get an immediate impression of the owner.
Look carefully in the record collection of your interlocutor who pretends to be a great music listener, look under letter P. Stop your gaze on that narrow black slit just interrupted by a small diagonal white strip in the middle and extract it from the pile. Turn the package, weigh the CD in your hands, test the state of preservation and don’t trust who owns a copy that looks too glossy: sooner or later he will come out with a sentence like “yes, Dark Side, great album. A little overrated, though…”.
A few historical references. The album was released on March 10, 1973. From March 11, 1973, the Pink Floyd stop being an excellent prospect of space-prog-hard rock (or whatever you want to label them) and start being part of the Olympus of the great musicians of history.
Among the many sources we cite, one of the most reliable for sales figures: 15 million copies, over 600 weeks in the Billboard charts. That makes more than 11 years.
The point of no return for Pink Floyd, the brick in the wall from which all the demons will flow, and that will give way to a slow and dramatic decline.
The Dark Side of the Moon is above all a work guided by emotions (to use the very words of those who have seen this album grow from the first stirrings of a jam session).
And the emotions, as we know, are strange matter. There is no science that describes effectively what it takes to touch the right strings, you must know how to correct the right weight of all components. Too much simplicity and the result will be banal; too much complexity and you risk an album that nobody enjoys.
The immense value of the prismatic album is just that: it reaches everyone. You could also listen to it 20 times in a row, you’ll keep finding little peculiarities that you didn’t notice before. And at the same time it’s an album that you can sing, catchy, enjoyable.
In one word: Pop.
It’s pop music in its most literal meaning: popular music, for everyone to consume.
You do not have to be a musicologist to feel touched and get goosebumps. You can stop at the simple instrumental part, without even knowing how to read and write. David Gilmour’s guitar reaches the sound of his maturity and will consecrate him for the rest of his career. Wright and his piano intuitions are breathtaking because of the profoundly evocative delicacy that they create throughout the course of the album.
And Roger Waters lyrics can tear you apart, shake you in the deep, in that part of you that’s always there, never coming out in the light because you are afraid of what could happen. The same part of you that comes out in an ordinary evening, when you can not help but have another glass of wine to keep you from thinking, even for a few hours.
In several interviews Waters said that that success was a little miracle, for words that sound so “pubertal”. Yet he has well grasped the point, describing in a precise way the typical concerns of any generation that faces its own future and cannot help but confront itself, often coming out defeated, with a certain type of existential questions.
The estrangement, the generational desolation, the distrust of others, the false myths of success, the difficulty of protecting one’s identity from the others. At a glance, it should not be easy to compose an effective song about any of these themes. An entire album is even more out of question.
Enclosed and presented by one of the most iconic covers of every era, created ad hoc by the historical friend and Hipgnosis’ founder, Storm Thorgerson.
‘”It was an expression of political, philosophical, humanitarian empathy that was desperate to get out”
We don’t want to add anything else. We don’t want to touch more what’s already perfect.