Pink Floyd's “The Dark Side of the Moon” helped define the term concept album and has spent a staggering 800 weeks on Billboard's top 200 chart. So why do new generations of fans find relevance in an album that is more than three decades old and filled with somber and sometimes bleak themes?
The 1973 album's longevity can be attributed to lyrical honesty and musical ingenuity in the studio.
Contemplative lyrics about mortality and a feeling of paralysis in our ever-changing modern world fill songs such as “Time” and “Breathe.”
An especially poignant passage from “Time” stands out.
“So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking/Racing around to come up behind you again/The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older/Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.”
The words are easy to relate to, evoking the sentiment that our time is, in fact, running out.
The critique of personal and societal greed in “Money” is timeless. It could have been written today.
On the album, band members David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Nick Mason expand upon work with previous frontman Syd Barrett.
Barrett's mental illness battle and his Pink Floyd departure is touched on in the song “Brain Damage.” The band was extremely affected by the loss of Barrett and continued to incorporate this emotion in later albums, including “Wish You Were Here” and “The Wall.”
On “The Dark Side of the Moon,” Waters leads the charge as the main lyricist, taking us to a grandiose and sometimes scary world. The musical themes revisited create an ominous, and uneasy feeling.
Nothing should ever be written about “The Dark Side of the Moon” without mentioning the vocal work of Clare Torry on “The Great Gig in the Sky.” The wordless melody is haunting. Torry's smooth vocals escalate into screams filled with emotion. This performance isn't easily reproduced.
Studio engineer Alan Parsons, who would go on to achieve fame of his own, is credited with much of the groundbreaking editing and mixing that made “The Dark Side of the Moon” sonically unique.
Synthesizer–heavy genres owe much to the bleeding-edge innovations accomplished here.
“The Dark Side of the Moon” is considered one of the high points of Pink Floyd's body of work and has a legacy tough to match. Through its artistry, it still inspires generations of performers and is a perennial standout on lists of the top albums ever made.
Follow Jeremy Scott on Twitter @JScott_TMT for tips and information about classic rock and new adventurous sounds.