Time, Money, and a Little Brain Damage: Pink Floyd Creates the Masterful “Dark Side of the Moon”
Spending endless hours under the skull-crunching grip of oversized headphones in a darkened bedroom was the rite of passage for just about every teenage boy in the early 1970s. As mandated under an invisible 27th Amendment to the Constitution, the album “Led Zeppelin IV” was to be played at full volume, ensuring that each pubescent lad would get lost in a land of black dogs and heavenward staircases. But in early 1973, the heralded headphone album dropped a peg, vacating the turntable needle for a group of cosmic nihilists who would push our stereophonic synapses into the stratosphere. With manic giggles, blistering guitars, a madhouse of clocks, and a catchy “ka-ching” of cash, Pink Floyd plugged into our sensory jacks with enough punch and production pizazz to propel the concept of album-oriented rock into the forefront of radio airplay everywhere. By opening ourselves up to the cohesive, trenchant ideas behind ‘Dark Side,’ we were left with notions of instability and isolation yet were soothed by the accessible melodies and instrumentation in its musical backing. This album experience washed over its collective audience with creepy ambiance, but shook us awake with its pretensions of high art.
Certainly for the members of Pink Floyd, it was their most accomplished and structured piece of music since their inception eight years earlier. For the four dour musicians who were prone to long-winded jam sessions and instrumental noodlings, this effort, their eighth album, was a brilliant burst of clarity. When “The Dark Side of the Moon” was released on March 24, 1973, it immediately hit the U.K. charts, rising to a comfortable number two position and nestled into the British Top 75 for an ensuing 310 weeks (approximately 6 years). For a band that had never even cracked the Top 50 stateside, Pink Floyd’s masterpiece seemed like an overnight sensation to many in the American record-buying public. A month after its release, “The Dark Side of the Moon” struck the number 1 bell on Billboard’s chart during the week of April 28, 1973. While it only sat there for 7 days, the album went on to become the all-time favorite son who wouldn’t leave the house. Johnny Mathis had been the reigning champ of Billboard with his “Greatest Hits” album lasting in the top 200 for 490 weeks (almost 9½ years). By the time “The Dark Side of the Moon” finally stepped off the chart on July 13, 1988, it had logged an insurmountable 740 weeks in the category. Over 14 years!
When EMI jumped into the manufacturing of CDs in 1984, it designated the monumental work as catalogue item no. 001. It was rumored that a pressing plant in West Germany spent night and day churning out nothing but “Dark Side” CDs from its branch. With sales to teens of a new generation easily moving enough units to have put the album back on the Billboard Top 200, the honorable recording magazine stipulated in the late ‘80s that once a CD drops off its current chart it would then have to stay off the list. By the close of the century, “The Dark Side of the Moon” alone had been purchased by thirty million people worldwide.
By today’s standards, this musical masterpiece was put together over a relatively short period of time. Pink Floyd’s schedule during the making of this album was a blur of activity. “Throughout the early ‘70s, we were either on the road or in a recording studio. That’s all I can remember,” keyboardist Rick Wright recalled to interviewer Mark Blake. As the succeeding, unofficial ‘conscience’ of Pink Floyd, lyricist and bassist Roger Waters was just beginning to bring a voice to the group’s vision.
The group’s founding leader was no more. Syd Barrett had gone a bit mad back in 1968. It was either the result of a bad LSD trip or the brutal onslaught of schizophrenia that contributed to his mental deterioration. One night while on their way to a gig in Southampton, Roger simply suggested they not pick Syd up for the appearance. The bright and troubled founder subsequently slipped off to his mum’s home in Cambridge and proceeded to be a recluse for the better part of thirty years. Rick Wright told interviewer Blake in 1994 that Syd never really came out of his shell. “We don’t see him, because apparently if he’s ever reminded of Pink Floyd and when he was in it, he goes into a depression for weeks on end. His mother asked us to stay away a few years ago.”
By the time of Barrett’s departure, Waters had already brought aboard an old guitarist friend of Syd’s named David Gilmour to fill in for the erratic member. With Wright and drummer Nick Mason seemingly content to stay in the background, Waters and Gilmour began a titanic jockeying of egos that would ultimately splinter their partnership in the mid-‘80s. Mason boiled down the two men’s struggle to its very essence for Mojo magazine. “(It’s) Dave’s desire to make music, versus Roger’s desire to make a show.” Gilmour acknowledged a broader scenario to the magazine, “Things between the four of us were always pretty rocky.” The talented guitarist felt he was on an uneven playing field as soon as he joined. “I was the new boy. Not only that, I was two years younger than the rest of them, and you know how those playground hierarchies carry over. You never catch up. Roger is not a generous-spirited person. I was constantly dumped on.”
The band forged through the late 1960s to very tepid receptions. Its brew of unstructured sonic psychedelia seemed to rub audiences everywhere the wrong way. “You must never underestimate how unpopular we were around the rest of England,” Nick Mason told Mojo. “They hated it. They would throw things, pour beer over us. And we were terrible, though we didn’t quite know it. Promoters were always coming up to us and saying, ‘I don’t know why you boys won’t do proper songs.’ Looking back on it, I can’t think why we persevered.”
Signs of acceptance amongst their countrymen became apparent when their album “Atom Heart Mother” finally managed to top the U.K. chart in October 1970. Constant touring throughout 1971 left them little time to squeeze in the recording of their follow-up, the album “Meddle.” What the record did provide was a glimmer of inspiration for the ideas that would soon transform into the ‘Dark Side’ effort. “I was getting strong urges to make extended pieces with segues between tracks and also to develop pieces where the songs have relationships,” Waters told interviewer Peter Henderson. The first side of the LP “Meddle” consisted of a long, thematic track named “Echoes.” This cohesive suite served as the launching pad for Waters’ desire to make an entire album centered on timeless, universal themes.
The band finished the North American leg of their 1971 tour in November and convened at a rehearsal studio in the London suburb of Broadhurst Gardens in December. “It’s difficult to remember the exact chronology, but I think we had already started improvising around some pieces at Broadhurst Gardens, and after I had written a couple of the lyrics for the songs, I suddenly thought, I know what would be good to make a whole record about the different pressures that apply in modern life,” Waters related to interviewer Henderson. Gilmour recalled Waters’ approach to Mojo: “I remember him saying that he wanted to write this album absolutely straight, clear and direct, for nothing to be hidden in mysteries, to get away from all the psychedelic warblings and say exactly what he wanted for the first time.” Waters later let his vast ego do the talking to the Washington Post, when he recalled telling the others about his ideas. “…They went, ‘Okay, that’s a good idea.’ In the ‘histories,’ it always comes out sounding like ‘we’ did this and ‘we’ did that and ‘we’ decided it was going to be a concept album. But there was none of that. There was never any question of sitting around and discussing what we might do. I have to say it’s not all my work – I only wrote all the lyrics and two-thirds of the songs. Gilmour’s contribution was very slight.”
Modern existence topics like money, travel, violence, and aging were broached as potential subjects for songs. As they did when assembling music for their previous albums, the band members searched through some of their old tapes to see if there would be snippets of melodies they could use. Waters had scored a soundtrack to a documentary called “The Body” in 1970. He took a small riff he had used for that film and turned it into the song “Breathe.” The band had also put together some music for the movie “Zabriskie Point,” and one of their unused tracks would serve as the musical bed to their “violent” song “Us and Them.” The subject of aging was addressed in the song “Time,” while the last act of death and beyond became the basis of the tune “The Great Gig In The Sky.”
To bring the pieces together into a psyche-devolving end, Waters concocted the song, “Brain Damage.” This meditation on insanity became renowned for its lyric, “the lunatic is on the grass.” Waters told Peter Henderson, “The grass was always the square in between the River Cam and King’s College chapel (back in Cambridge). I don’t know why, but when I was young that was always the piece of grass, more than any other piece of grass, that I felt I was constrained to ‘‘keep off.’ I don’t know why, but the song still makes me think of that piece of grass.” He went on to reveal, “The lunatic was Syd, really. He was obviously in my mind.” The entire song was not intended as a reflection on his old chum though. “…All that stuff in ‘Brain Damage’ about ‘If the band you’re in starts playing different tunes,” Waters later observed, “I think this was more for me than Syd.” Roger was already feeling the struggle of creating a singular vision with his fellow bandmates at this time. Of course, the follow-up line to those lyrics — “I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon” — evolved into the name of this most enduring album. For Waters, the dark side of the moon was everyone’s down side, that area of bad feelings, which he wanted listeners to know that we all shared and shouldn’t feel isolated in our emotions about.
By December 12, 1972, the band had rehearsed the majority of songs that would make up their next LP. They broke to finish filming on a movie they had begun earlier in October named “Live in Pompeii.” After Christmas, they resumed rehearsals at another studio in Bermondsey. When they hit the road for a tour around Britain on January 20, 1973, the band performed their new material under the name “Eclipse.” By the end of this jaunt, when they played live at London’s Rainbow Club in Finsbury Park, they were referring to their new material as “Dark Side of the Moon – A Piece for Assorted Lunatics.” Gilmour told Q magazine that the five nights they played ‘Dark Side’ at the Rainbow “tightened it up performance-wise, although one or two of the pieces which were a bit more performance-oriented got thrown out and replaced in the studio.” A bootleg recording of the concert was subsequently released and sold a whopping 120,000 copies. Pink Floyd was furious, and while there was nothing they could do to retrieve the black-market recording, they put more stringent guidelines on performance venues in the future.
From February through May, the band spent time scoring yet another film, “La Valee (The Valley),” for director Barbet Schroeder (“Reversal of Fortune,” “Single White Female”). When not recording the soundtrack, Pink Floyd toured Japan, America, West Germany and Holland. When their music score was released in June under the name “Obscured By Clouds,” the band was ready to finally settle in and record their “Dark Side of the Moon” material.
The group ambled into the fabled Abbey Road Studios on June 1st. A staff engineer at the studio, who had assisted on the landmark Beatles albums “Abbey Road” and “Let It Be,” was contracted to engineer Pink Floyd’s latest effort. His name was Alan Parsons, and the band knew of him through his mixing efforts on their previous album “Atom Heart Mother.” He would subsequently form his own hit-making outfit known as the Alan Parsons Project in the mid-‘70s. The band set about laying down basic tracks for the song “Us and Them,” using an instrumental riff keyboardist Rick Wright had previously come up with for “Zabriskie Point.” “I can’t remember when I wrote the top line and the lyric,” Roger Waters recalled to Peter Henderson, “but it was certainly during the making of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ because it seems that the whole idea, the political idea of humanism and whether it could or should have any effect on any of us, that’s what the record is about really – conflict, our failure to connect with one another.”
On and off for the next 25 days, the group laid down the rest of the album’s tracks. For once, it appeared as if Gilmour and Waters were playing down their adversarial tendencies. Parsons recalled that “they produced each other – Roger would produce Dave playing guitar and singing, and Dave would produce Roger doing his vocals.” Gilmour told Q magazine, “In theory we were all producing, but in practice it meant that Roger and I would argue considerably about how it should sound.” He continued with Mojo magazine, “We had huge rows, but they were about passionate beliefs in what we were doing. Roger is a very intelligent and creative person, and I am very stubborn and pigheaded, but I think I have a good musical sense. Sometimes he would be willing to sacrifice all sorts of musical moments to get his message across. Our roles were complementary, at least in theory.”
Midway through these sessions, they played a gig in Brighton, England, and it was during this performance that they introduced the album’s final song, “Eclipse.” Waters explained to Peter Henderson, “It felt as if the piece needed an ending…The rather depressing ending, ‘And everything under the sun is in tune/but the sun is eclipsed by the moon,’ is the idea that we all have the potential to be in harmony with whatever it is, to lead happy, meaningful and right lives.”
The sonic clarity by which Alan Parsons was able to capture each element in the recording made the album a standout classic. Gilmour would spend hours fiddling with his guitar, eliciting the right attacks and withdrawing in understated moments for each track, until time came to record the tune. Then he would barrel through, usually in a take or two, with enough force, according to Parsons, to rattle the walls of the dear old Abbey Road facility. “The record very much focuses on important information,” Waters elaborated to the Washington Post, “so if it’s a vocal you can hear it, if it’s a guitar solo you can hear it, and if it’s a sound effect you can hear it. That’s because the drums are very quiet all the way through the record. That’s one thing about the record that sounds really old-fashioned because these days we tend to have drums up really loud, which leaves less space for other information.”
From July through August, the band took a much-needed holiday. In September 1972, they flew overseas for another set of North American concerts. It wasn’t until mid-October that they ambled back into Abbey Road for another nine days of recording. The songs would now be embellished with sound effects and spare vocal tracks, ingenious devices that would indelibly spot-weld the entire album into the world’s conscience as a landmark rock classic.
Perhaps the most beloved sound effect used on the entire album was that of the cash register and coinage sounds at the start of “Money.” Roger Waters told Peter Henderson, “I had a two-track studio at home with a Revox recorder. My first wife (Judy Trim) was a potter, and she had a big industrial food mixer for mixing up clay. I threw handfuls of coins and wads of torn-up paper into it. We took a couple of things off sound effects records too.” Parsons expounded on their technique: “The effects loops at the start of the song were re-recorded in the studio and this took a long time. Each sound had its own loop which we had to measure, using a ruler, to keep it in time. There was a tearing paper sound, a telephone Uni selector from a sound effects tape, bags of cash literally being dropped on the studio floor, and a cash register ringing.” The loop of effects became the click track, the device musicians use to set the signature time of a song. Parsons played the cash loop over their headphones.
During down-periods between his recording sessions at Abbey Road, Alan’s other job had been to traipse all over London to record effects for EMI’s vast sound library collection. He was utilizing the capabilities of a new process of recording known as quadraphonic, a system by which four channels of sound are used to deliver the reproduction. “Dark Side’ was recorded at a time when the quadraphonic system seemed to be on the horizon,” he told Guitar World magazine. “For example, a lot of the effects on the album were designed with quad reproduction in mind – most notably, the introduction to ‘Money.’ The idea was that each part of the cash register would emanate from a different speaker.”
It was Parsons who came up with the idea for the lead-in segue to the song “Time.” On one of his outings, he had ventured to a watchmaker’s shop, and utilizing the quadraphonic technique, had isolated and recorded the sounds of clocks ticking and chiming. Along with the distinctive beating sounds of Nick Mason’s rototom drums and Waters’ plucking his Fender bass, the intro to “Time” was every bit as unconventional as the one to “Money.”
Gilmour was pals with an inventor named Peter Zinovieff who had constructed a huge synthesizer called the VCS3 behind his house in a garden shed. Zinovieff was able to condense the workings of the instruments into a suitcase, and the device was lugged into Abbey Road Studios for use on the album. The song “On The Run,” which had featured Gilmour’s guitarwork when the band played it as a longwinded jam on tour before the recording session, was suitably benefited by the introduction of the VCS3. Gilmour fiddled with the controls, programming a random sequence that became the basis of the simple tune. “All the basic sounds came as a mono feed from that one synth,” Parsons told Guitar World. “It’s funny, because most people assume that ‘On The Run’ is composed of several overdubs; it’s actually a one-off performance.” With liberal use of train, airplane and explosive sound effects from the Abbey Road library, Parsons contributed another distinctive feature to the track while the group was taking a break. “There were no band members present – it was just me with my assistant engineer, Peter James. Poor Peter had the job of running back and forth while I recorded him. I remember instructing him to do things like, ‘Breathe harder.”
The band put Parsons through the ringer when they decided on having an ‘echo’ effect after each line of lyric on another of their standout songs. “It was literally a fight to get the delay effect on ‘Us and Them,’ Parsons related to Guitar World magazine. “We spent a tremendous amount of time hooking up Dolby units and realigning machines at the wrong tape speed to accomplish that effect. ‘Us and Them’ was all done with tape delays, because digital delays didn’t exist then. All those things took hours to set up.”
Liberally sprinkled throughout the entire album were spoken word, disconnected sentences from varying voices. Instead of scripting the bits of monologue and having group members utter the lines, Waters was looking to grab ad-libbed notions that would fit into his ‘Dark Side’ thesis. “I devised a series of about 20 questions on pieces of card,” he related to Peter Henderson. “They were in order and ranged from obscure questions like, ‘What does the phrase ‘the dark side of the moon’ mean to you?’ to a series of questions that related to each other like, ‘When was the last time you were violent?’ and then ‘Do you think you were in the right?’ We asked people to just go into an empty studio, look at the top card, respond to it, move on to the next card and respond to that, and so on until they’d done all the cards. We showed them to everyone from Paul McCartney to Jerry Driscoll, the Abbey Road doorman.” It was Driscoll’s response to his feelings about death (“I’m not frightened of dying. Anytime will do, I don’t mind.”) that was used in the album’s ‘mortality’ song, “The Great Gig In The Sky.”
By November 1972, the bulk of “The Dark Side of the Moon” had been recorded. Surprisingly, the group felt that their standing in the rock world was still unfocused and shaky. Since all four of them came from stable, middle-class, well-educated backgrounds, the logical thing to do with their careers at this juncture was to explore other avenues, in case the whole ‘rock’ thing fell through. From November through February 1973, the band hooked up with renowned French choreographer Roland Petit and set about making plans to compose music for his Les Ballets de Marseilles troupe. They soon realized they weren’t too inspired by Petit to come up with esteemed classical pieces. “The reality of all these people prancing around in tights in front of us didn’t feel like what we wanted to do long term,” Gilmour explained to Mojo. The group wound up playing their own established tunes during a few ballet performances in Marseilles and Paris and quickly dropped out of the dance world.
Over eleven more days inside Abbey Road, during the period of January 18 through February 1, 1973, Pink Floyd polished off its masterpiece album. Two relatively unknown contributors would put their personal stamp on the record, giving it an extra boost of pleasurable sonic notoriety. The group felt both “Money” and “Us and Them” would benefit from a saxophone break. Instead of hiring a seasoned session man, Gilmour coaxed a friend from one of his old Cambridge jazz bands, Dick Parry, to travel to London and lay down his soothing, outstanding sax lines. As for “The Great Gig In The Sky,” an instrumental piece written by Rick Wright, some sort of vocal backing was seen as necessary to complete the track. Alan Parsons thought of a friend of his, a novice staff songwriter over at the EMI offices, who might fit the bill. “I received a phone call to come in and do a session for Pink Floyd,” Parson’s friend Clare Torry told Peter Henderson. “It didn’t mean much to me at the time, but I accepted and was booked: 7-10pm Sunday, January 21, Studio 3. When I arrived they explained the concept of the album to me and played me Rick Wright’s chord sequence. They said, ‘We want some singing on it.’ But didn’t know what they wanted, so I suggested going out into the studio and trying a few things. I started off using words, but they said, ‘Oh no, we don’t want any words.’ So the only thing I could think of was to make myself sound like an instrument, a guitar or whatever, and not to think like a vocalist. I did that and they loved it.”
So, too, did a vast majority of Floyd fans. Torry’s jazzy, emotional, soaring vocals, wailing over the heavenly rise of Wright’s hymn, lent a beautiful, heartfelt dimension to an otherwise somber album. For a song dealing with our final departure from this mortal coil, her sound gave it a highly romantic bent. In 1990, Australian radio listeners curiously named the lyric-free ditty as the best song to make love to. Torry was paid about 30 English pounds for her session. “If I’d known then what I know now, I would have done something about organizing copyright or publishing (rights),” she later wistfully said.
By the time recording wrapped, Waters and Gilmour were at extreme odds about the entire album’s production sound. Another Apple staffer who had worked with the group Badfinger was called. “Chris Thomas came in for the mixes,” David Gilmour told Guitar World magazine, “and his role was essentially to stop the arguments between me and Roger about how it should be mixed. I wanted ‘Dark Side’ to be big and swampy and wet, with reverbs and things like that. And Roger was very keen on it being a very dry album. I think he was influenced a lot by John Lennon’s first solo album which was very dry. We argued so much that it was suggested we get a third opinion. We were going to leave Chris to mix it on his own, with Alan Parsons engineering. And, of course, on the first day I found out that Roger sneaked in there. So, the second day I sneaked in there. And from then on, we both sat right at Chris’ shoulder interfering. But luckily, Chris was more sympathetic to my point of view than he was to Roger’s.”
Finally, by February 1, 1973, the album was officially completed. Spread out over a 7- month period, Pink Floyd had only spent 38 days in the studio to record their landmark achievement. Waters told the Washington Post, “When it was finished, I took the tape home and played it to my first wife, and I remember her bursting into tears when she’d finished listening to it. And I thought, yeah, that’s kind of what I expected, because I think it’s very moving emotionally and musically.”
The group’s respective labels, EMI in Europe and Capitol in the U.S., were ecstatic about the results as well. They wound up giving the album a huge promotional push. The group tapped Storm Thorgerson, who was founder of the hip art design firm, Hipgnosis, to design the album’s cover. Thorgerson’s unique photography had produced the haunting women-on-steps look of Zeppelin’s album “Houses of the Holy” and the instantly-recognizable curves of Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells.” He would later capture the striking imagery of Pink Floyd’s ‘burning man’ cover for “Wish You Were Here,” the floating pig on the “Animals” cover, and 800 empty hospital beds for the “Momentary Lapse of Reason” sleeve. His design for “The Dark Side of the Moon” “took about 3 seconds,” Thorgerson related to Q magazine, “in so much as the band cast their eyes over everything, looked at each other, said in unison, ‘That One,” and left the room.” The selected design, that of a white light refracting into a rainbow through a pyramid prism, would become one of the best known covers in the annals of rock album designs.
Upon the release of “The Dark Side of the Moon,” everything became more grander, more complicated for the group. Pink Floyd hit the road and toured throughout much of 1973. Their stage show had always been an elaborate presentation of lights and slides, but now the band began shooting films that would be projected behind them in conjunction with the music. “We’d have lots of problems with cue-tracks to keep in synch with the film,” Rick Wright told Mojo magazine. “We were one of the first bands to do that, click-tracks they call them now. It was a massive headache because the equipment was pretty unreliable. The film would snap or the projector would break down or the click would suddenly come blasting out of the P.A. in the middle of the piece because someone had turned the wrong knob. There was a lot of missing cues and trying to get back in time, whereas today with everything digital, it works like clockwork.”
With their new album, the band had something they’d never truly experienced before. A bonafide hit single. “Money” reached number 13 on the Billboard chart. “It was ‘Money’ that made the difference rather than ‘Dark Side of the Moon,” Gilmour related to Mojo. “It gave us a much larger following, for which we should be thankful. But it included an element that wasn’t versed in Pink Floyd’s ways. It started from the first show in America (in Madison, Wisconsin). People at the front shouting, ‘Play ‘Money!’ Gimme something I can shake my ass to!’ We had to get used to it, but previously we’d been playing to 10,000-seaters where, in the quiet passages, you could hear a pin drop. One always has a bit of nostalgia for the days when we could perform without compromise to that level of dynamics.”
The album also brought Pink Floyd notoriety as the group to ‘trip’ out to. “Roger’s and Nick’s largest indulgence was alcohol,” Gilmour later tried to explain, “mine and Rick’s might have involved the occasional reefer. But at that time we were nothing like our image. I’m not sure Roger’s even taken LSD – it certainly wasn’t on our menu after Syd left. We’ve never got away from that reputation, though, not to this day.”
The only recognition from their peers resulted in Alan Parsons receiving a Grammy for ‘Best Engineered Album’ in 1973. Critics were split down the line, some gushing, some dismissive. For Roger Waters, the mountain had been climbed, and there was nowhere else to go but down. “We’d cracked it,” he related to Q magazine. “We’d won the pools. What are you supposed to do after that? ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ was the last willing collaboration – after that, everything with the band was like drawing teeth; 10 years of hanging on to the married name and not having the courage to get divorced, to let go; 10 years of bloody hell. It was all just terrible. Awful. Terrible.” Waters’ contempt for Gilmour increased tenfold, and in years since, he has not been meek about trashing the group to the press. “Nobody else in the band could write lyrics,” he moaned to the Washington Post, “there were no other lyricists after Syd left. David’s written a couple of songs, but they were nothing special. I don’t think Nick ever tried to write a lyric, and Rick probably did in the early days, but they were awful.” Gilmour has been more succinct in his criticism for his old bandmate, as in his statement to Guitar World: “To me, one of Roger’s failings is that sometimes, in his effort to get the words across, he uses a less than perfect vehicle.”
Waters’ viewed the stadium shows as a moral sellout, a greedy spectacle, and after playing a gig at the Olympic stadium in Montreal during their 1977 “Animals” tour, he began shaping his arena-size disillusionment into the rock opera “The Wall.” Rick Wright was dismissed during the making of this LP. Waters and Gilmour barely collaborated on it. The aptly-titled “The Final Cut” in 1983 would prove to be the last Pink Floyd effort involving Roger. In December 1985, he formally wrote the record company his resignation. When Gilmour recruited Wright and Mason to release “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” in 1987 under the Pink Floyd name, Waters sought to legally prevent their actions. But it was to no avail. While Pink Floyd followed up with several massive tours and the multi-million dollar-selling album “The Division Bell,” Waters’ solo efforts like “Radio K.A.O.S” and “Amused To Death” seemed to spin straight to the bargain bin. All the same, the three remaining members of the Floyd haven’t appeared to be overjoyed in carrying on the torch for the legendary band. “We don’t socialize much,” Rick Wright told interviewer Mark Blake in 1996. “Pink Floyd is like a marriage that’s on a permanent trial separation. We all respect each other, but we’re not close friends.”
Outside of all the dispirited feelings, the work truly has remained exemplary over the years. “The Dark Side of the Moon” continues to entice new listeners with its sterling production values and universal themes. In an age where radio airplay tosses hit singles on and off the rotation cycle with all the rapid-fire fervor of 1960s AM programming, ‘Dark Side’ stands as a shining example of an intelligent, complete work not so easily dispensable. For Waters, the album’s endurance will always stand as testament to dealing with his own life’s philosophies. “You hit puberty, decide you want to be a rock star,” he observed to Musician magazine, “…and you feel you need all that applause and money to validate your life…And I suppose I was starting to ask some of the larger questions of, ‘Well, hang on a minute. What’s the ‘point’ of all of it?’ That’s what ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ is about, and maybe that’s why it survived.” Perhaps it’s the crystal clear themes of life and death, light and dark, the sun and the moon, sanity and insanity that speak to listeners from any background. For David Gilmour, it truly seems to have that all-encompassing appeal. “I listened to ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ last year,” he related to Guitar World in 1994, “…and I remember feeling that it was pretty timeless. And a lot of the issues that we have dealt with – that Roger wrote about in his lyrics, if you like – are pretty timeless. They are things that apply to any generation.”
© 2001 Ned Truslow
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