The Dark Side of the Moon: the multiple meanings of a masterpiece

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Discovering a classic like The Dark Side of the Moon is not easy as you could guess by the millions of copies sold, or by the velvet sounds that accompany the mythology of the album.

In order to get closer with the concept of the album, we first need to get over that technical perfection that has brought many critics to consider it just a refined proof of sound engineering mastery; then, we need to overcome the veil of sophisticated easy-listening mood that somebody complain about; and finally, we need to exit our comfort zone and deepen the lyrics, cryptic and ambiguous, developed around the meditation about existence.


The largest support of the album is in fact a deep humanism, made of pain and existentialism. It’s a reminder about the centrality of man in the mechanical dimension of space/time, which comes already from the album cover: the famous prism reflecting the ray of light recalls the geometries and the scientific approaches of Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man – another masterpiece able to unify science and art – with a similar load of esoteric meanings.

Between the circle and the square painted by Leonardo, symbols of heaven and earth, Pink Floyd’s triange find ideally its place, as a divine image meant to transcend, to regain the lost unity conciliating the opposites in a new harmony; the intersection of micro and macrocosm that summarizes in one only figure the exploration of that interior space that the English band has constantly deepened – which in fact represents the leitmotif of an entire musical age.

The light rays that come out of the prism come together in the back of the cover, closing a symbolic circle, are like astronomical coordinates, indispensable to sort out the continuous flow of the history of men. Each coordinate represents a nodal point and it’s related with a specific song: birth, time, wealth, conflict, madness, death, everything is tied in a cyclical continuum that begins and ends with a heartbeat – as in the tracks that open and close the album. The individual in his history is similar to a planet in a planetarium: in apparent harmony with his own fellows, but forced to complex balances, subject to immutable laws; its existence clashes with the limits that compromise its integrity and uniqueness; its relationship with modernity leads to alienation and loss of meaning.

This humanist dimension takes shape in the structure and the tone of the album, organized as a unified and cyclical representation of the human path from birth to death, where opposites meet to cancel each other – think about Clare Torry’s voice in The Great Gig in the Sky, where the trespassing soul fades into an orgasmic, sensual moment.

On all this, a palpable sensation of harmony dominates and holds together the pieces, like planets in the cosmic engine: the instrumental part is always guided by large and deep sounds, full of spaces and silences, a Big Bang that creates the space-temporal dimension of the album and creates room for the human story told by the voices and the lyrics.

The tracks range from melancholy to elegy, never giving up to tragedy; the bitterness of the album is expressed with detached serenity and the sounds dress the tones of blue, becoming gradually more shadowy, dilated and symphonic.

Waters’ gloomy and obsessive moods, which will gain consistency from now on, seem almost tempered by a superior awareness, immersed in a dimension of grace that smoothes the edges and softens the strengths: it’s in the conclusive pair Brain Damage/ Eclipse – a composition like no other in the history of rock for magnificence – that the pessimistic lyrics, whose ambiguous meaning has been discussed for decades, give life to a musical crescendo that has the romantic flavour of the triumph of Spirit over the World: a hymn to Man and Life that wants to elevate both above History.

With The Dark Side of the Moon, Rock enters its adult age, becoming culture music and reprogramming the figure of rock musician, now intellectualized and affected by a special strabismus for other forms of art. Listening to this album is like living a world: in this sense it remains open to the canons of psychedelic rock, but it redefines its boundaries, closing in fact that musical season and its main extensions of space-rock and progressive.

As a result of the talent and the obsessions of a humanist socialist, divided between individualism and collective utopias, son of World War II and 1968; looking both at classicism and experimentation; ambitious in his research for unity and synthesis of human experience. For all these reasons, The Dark Side of the Moon is one of the true masterpieces of twentieth century culture, between Proust and Joyce, Freud and Sartre, Picasso and Kubrick. With no fear of comparisons.

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