Thursday, January 25, 2018

Dark Side of the Moon - ROYGBV - What Happened to Indigo?

From Stevie Wonder's Innervisions to Houses of the Holy to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, 1973 was as eclectic as it was overwhelming (phenomenal indeed when an LP like Roxy's For Your Pleasure barely gets a nod). "Bennie and the Jets," and "Ventura Highway" were clearly the year's best singles, but the LP that denotes evolution and innovation is not so easily determined, though one cannot deny the lasting impact of Dark Side of the Moon. Dark Side is our lives in cyclical form...

- "Speak To Me"/"Breathe": heartbeat, breath, birth, external sounds and influences (obscure adult voices), a mother's cares and worries ("And smiles you'll give, and tears you'll cry") and harsh realities ("And balanced on the biggest wave, you race towards an early grave").
- "On The Run": that phase of life when the only way to keep up in an ever-changing world is to run with it, the adrenaline so intense that it's simple to forget or lose track of one's destination; wild experiences enhance, at times thwart, the journey.
- "Time": both friend and foe. ("Waiting for someone or something to show you the way"). Having entered into the rat race of society, one realizes the passing of time and experiences first disappointments ("No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun") and what it means to get older ("Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time").

- "The Great Gig in the Sky": this is just raw sex, right? Life's sweet spot.
- "Money": the materialistic phase: working, earning money, not thinking much of the greater things in life. Disjointed and disconcerting down to the 7/4 time signature.
- "Us and Them": the later phases of life: one has seen it all, society as a whole becomes less important; the realization hits that time though infinite is finite for us.
- "Any Colour You Like": the philosophy of synesthesia: the perception of choice like the perception of color. One has the freedom to include all colors into one's life without pondering the consequences, though in reality, there are few colors from which to choose. (Interestingly, the rainbow on the cover is missing indigo which some perceive as a mistake on Hipgnosis' part. Storm Thorgerson pointed out that indigo was merely a construct of Sir Isaac Newton and simply the blending of blue and violet.)
- "Brain damage": in the next phase one's brain degenerates, becomes detached from the physical world and one is relegated insignificant. There is a loss of reality and it feels like the rest of the world is off on a tangent ("When the band you're in starts playing different tunes"); convalescence is implied.
- "Eclipse": fin. All actions and apparent contradictions and conflicts in life are resolved and disappear at the point of death ("The sun is eclipsed by the moon"). Even time itself disappears ("All that is now, all that is gone, all that's to come"). At this point everything melds, one finds/realizes/experiences that "Everything under the sun is in tune" and that struggles are constructs of the brain. Then the heart stops. And then there is silence.

Or no heed to the tremendous hype Dark Side has amassed. Just listen. From the first heartbeat to the last, there is no more profoundly satisfying musical journey, whether or not it means anything. And when all is said and done, DSOTM is more an album of immense musicality. From Gilmour's incomparable bass to the bombastic soul of "The Great Gig in the Sky," Dark Side is the Beethoven's 7th of rock. 

British Playwright Tom Stoppard was asked to create a radioplay around Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon commemorating the 40th anniversary of the iconic LP. The idea was to "see what sort of journey the album takes Tom Stoppard on." Dark Side premiered on BBC Radio 2 on August 26, 2013. A three minute animated video utilizing the works of Hipgnosis and Storm Thurgerson is available here. The full radioplay follows.