1973 – Pink Floyds Dark Side of the Moon released in the UK.
Us and Them
Us, and them
And after all we’re only ordinary men
Me, and you
God only knows it’s not what we would choose to do
Forward he cried from the rear
And the front rank died
And the general sat and the lines on the map
Moved from side to side
Black and blue
And who knows which is which and who is who
Up and down
But in the end, it’s only round and round
Haven’t you heard it’s a battle of words
The poster bearer cried
Listen son, said the man with the gun
There’s room for you inside
I mean, they’re not gunna kill ya
So if you give ’em a quick short, sharp, shock
They won’t do it again.
Dig it? I mean he get off lightly
‘Cause I would’ve given him a thrashing
I only hit him once
It was only a difference of opinion, but really
I mean, good manners don’t cost nothing do they, eh
Down and out
It can’t be helped but there’s a lot of it about
And who’ll deny it’s what the fighting’s all about
Out of the way, it’s a busy day
I’ve got things on my mind
For the want of the price of tea and a slice
The old man died
(Waters, Gilmour, Wright) 2:44
Breathe, breathe in the air.
Don’t be afraid to care.
Leave but don’t leave me.
Look around and choose your own ground.
Long you live and high you fly
And smiles you’ll give and tears you’ll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be.
Run, rabbit run.
Dig that hole, forget the sun,
And when at last the work is done
Don’t sit down it’s time to dig another one.
For long you live and high you fly
But only if you ride the tide
And balanced on the biggest wave
You race towards an early grave.
The Great Gig in the Sky
“And I am not frightened of dying, any time will do, I
don’t mind. Why should I be frightened of dying?
There’s no reason for it, you’ve gotta go sometime.”
“If you can hear this whispering you are dying.”
“I never said I was frightened of dying.”
The Dark Side of the Moon (titled Dark Side of the Moon in the 1993 CD edition) is a concept album by the English progressive rock band Pink Floyd. It was released on 17 March 1973 in the U.S. and 24 March 1973 in the UK.
The Dark Side of the Moon builds upon previous experimentation that Pink Floyd had explored in their live shows and recordings, but without the extended instrumental excursions that became characteristic of the band after founding member Syd Barrett left. The album’s themes include conflict, greed, aging and mental illness (or “insanity”); the latter inspired in part by the deteriorating mental state of Barrett, who had been the band’s principal composer and lyricist.
The band’s most successful release, The Dark Side of the Moon is often considered to be the group’s defining work, and is still frequently ranked by music critics as one of the greatest and most influential albums of all time.
The idea of writing a new album was first mooted around 1971, in a band meeting at drummer Nick Mason’s home. The new material would form part of a new stage show which was to begin shortly thereafter. Roger Waters came up with an idea that the album could deal with things that “make people mad”, and focus on the pressures which the band was under during their arduous lifestyle. The theme would also cover the apparent mental problems suffered by former band member Syd Barrett.
At one time, it was called Eclipse because Medicine Head did an album called Dark Side of the Moon. But, that didn’t sell well, so what the hell. I was against Eclipse and we felt a bit annoyed because we had already thought of the title before Medicine Head came out. Not annoyed at them but because we wanted to use the title.
Waters is credited as author of all the album’s lyrics. ideas and frameworks” and David Gilmour’s was the music he replied:
That’s crap. There’s no question that Dave needs a vehicle to bring out the best of his guitar playing. And he is a great guitar player. But the idea which he’s tried to propagate over the years that he’s somehow more musical than I am is absolute fucking nonsense. It’s an absurd notion but people seem quite happy to believe it.
In a separate interview, David Gilmour said:
I really can’t remember exactly how it happened – just that at some point Roger came in and said that instead of just one or two lyrics for individual songs that we had already been working on he had got an idea that was going to run through the whole album. Having Roger coming up with a cohesive idea of what the whole thing was going to be about was very good. We had explored some of that area before when we did a thing called ‘The Man and the Journey’ which was a live thing we did in 1969. That was the story of the life of a person. But I think we all thought – and Roger definitely thought – that a lot of the lyrics that we had been using were a little too indirect. There was definitely a feeling that the words were going to be very clear and specific.
The band rehearsed the album in a warehouse in south London, owned by The Rolling Stones.
Throughout 1972 the band toured through Europe and North America, with constant enhancements to both the scale and quality of the performances.
The album builds upon previous experimentation that Pink Floyd had explored in their live shows and recordings, but without the extended instrumental excursions that, according to critic David Fricke, had become characteristic of the band after founding member Syd Barrett left in 1968. Guitarist David Gilmour, Barrett’s replacement, would later refer to these instrumentals as “that psychedelic noodling stuff.” Gilmour and Roger Waters, the band’s bassist (and principal lyricist on Dark Side), cite 1971’s Meddle as a turning point toward what would be realized on The Dark Side of the Moon.
The album’s themes include conflict, greed, ageing and mental illness (or “insanity”); the latter inspired in part by the deteriorating mental state of Barrett, who had been the band’s principal composer and lyricist. The album is notable for its use of musique concrète and conceptual, philosophical lyrics, as found in much of the band’s other work.
The release of The Dark Side of the Moon is seen as a symbolic point in the history of rock music. Beginning and ending with a fading heartbeat, there are five tracks on each side, each one linked to reflect the various stages of human life. The album explores the nature of the human experience and according to Waters, “empathy”. “Speak to Me” and “Breathe” together stress the mundane and futile elements of life along with the ever-present threat of madness, and the importance of living one’s own life – “Don’t be afraid to care”.
Alan Parsons mixing Dark Side of the Moon in quadraphonic sound
The album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, between June 1972 and January 1973.
Along with the conventional rock band instrumentation, Pink Floyd added prominent synthesizers to their sound. For example, Roger Waters and David Gilmour experimented with the EMS VCS3 Synthi A and analogue sequencers on “On the Run”. The band also devised and recorded some unconventional noises: an assistant engineer running around the studio’s echo chamber (during “On the Run”); myriad clocks ticking then chiming simultaneously (during “Time”), and a specially-treated bass drum made to sound like a human heartbeat (during “Speak to Me”, “On the Run”, “Time”, and “Eclipse”). The heartbeat is most audible as the intro and the outro to the album, but it can also be heard underneath most of the album—the song “Time” and “On the Run” has the low thudding underneath the rest.
Another novelty of the recording is the metronomic and rhythmic sequence of sound effects played during “Speak to Me” and “Money”. This was achieved by Waters laboriously splicing together recordings of ringing cash registers, clinking coins, tearing paper, and buzzing counting machines onto a two-track tape loop (later adapted to four tracks in order to create a unique “walk around the room” effect in quadraphonic presentations of the album).
Dark Side of the Moon, Earls Court 1973
Perhaps one of the less noticeable aspects of the album is the ability of Richard Wright and David Gilmour to perfectly harmonize with each other, such as on “Us and Them” and “Time”. In the Making of Dark Side of the Moon DVD, Roger Waters attributes this to the fact that, along with their talent, their voices both sound extremely similar.
Interviewed in 2006, when asked if he felt his goals had been accomplished in the studio, Roger Waters said:
When the record was finished I took a reel-to-reel copy home with me and I remember playing it for my wife then, and I remember her bursting into tears when it was finished. And I thought, “This has obviously struck a chord somewhere,” and I was kinda pleased by that. You know when you’ve done something, certainly if you create a piece of music, you then hear it with fresh ears when you play it for somebody else. And at that point I thought to myself, “Wow, this is a pretty complete piece of work,” and I had every confidence that people would respond to it.
Despite Parsons’ significant contribution to the success of the album, Pink Floyd have occasionally tried to downplay his role. He said in an interview with Rolling Stone:
I think they all felt that I managed to hang the rest of my career on Dark Side of the Moon, which has an element of truth to it. But I still wake up occasionally, frustrated about the fact that they made untold millions and a lot of the people involved in the record didn’t.
The album’s credits include, “Vocals on “The Great Gig in the Sky” by Clare Torry”. Torry was a cover singer who had worked on a variety of pop material, and after hearing her perform, Parsons invited her to the studio to sing on “The Great Gig in the Sky”. In a few short takes on a Sunday night she improvised a wordless melody to accompany Richard Wright’s emotive piano solo. For her contribution she was paid £30, and given a credit for the track’s vocals.
Snippets of dialogue between and over songs are also featured on the recording. Roger Waters devised a method of interviewing people, whereby questions were printed on flashcards in sequential order and the subject’s responses were recorded uninterrupted. The questions related to central themes of the album such as madness, violence, and death. Participants were commandeered from around Abbey Road, placed in the darkened studio in front of a microphone, and told to answer the questions in the order which they were presented. This provoked some surprising responses to subsequent questions. For example, the question “When was the last time you were violent?” was immediately followed by “Were you in the right?”
Pink Floyd’s road manager Peter Watts (father of actress Naomi Watts)
The responses “And I am not frightened of dying, any time will do, I don’t mind. Why should I be frightened of dying, there’s no reason for it, you’ve got to go some time” (during “The Great Gig in the Sky”) and closing words “there is no dark side of the Moon really… as a matter of fact it’s all dark” (over the “Eclipse” heartbeats) came from the Abbey Road Studios’ Irish doorman at the time, Gerry O’Driscoll. Paul and Linda McCartney were also interviewed, but their answers were rejected from the album.
The album was originally released in a gatefold LP sleeve designed by Hipgnosis and George Hardie, of Nicholas Thirkell Associates, and bore Hardie’s iconic refracting prism on the cover. The prism design was derived from three elements; the band’s stage lighting, the album lyrics, and Richard Wright’s request for a “simple and bold” design.
The album was released in March 1973, but with the exception of Wright the band boycotted the press reception at the London Planetarium as the quadrophonic mix was not yet complete. The stereo mix of the album was presented through a poor-quality public address system.
…I think that when it was finished, everyone thought it was the best thing we’d ever done to date, and everyone was very pleased with it, but there’s no way that anyone felt it was five times as good as Meddle, or eight times as good as Atom Heart Mother, or the sort of figures that it has in fact sold. It was something of a phenomena, and was not only about being a good album but also about being in the right place at the right time.
Reviews of the album were generally positive. Lloyd Grossman for Rolling Stone magazine described it as “a fine album with a textural and conceptual richness that not only invites, but demands involvement.”
The Dark Side of the Moon is one of the best selling albums of all time,
To this day, it occupies a prominent spot on Billboard’s Pop Catalogue Chart and reached number one when the 2003 hybrid CD/SACD edition was released and sold 800,000 copies in the U.S. alone.
By 2006 worldwide sales of the album totalled over forty million. Between 8,000–9,000 copies are sold per week,
The LP was released before platinum awards were introduced by the RIAA on 1 January 1976, and it initially only received a gold disc. However, after the introduction of the album on CD, The Dark Side of the Moon would eventually be certified platinum in 1990. On 6 April 1998, the RIAA certified the album at 15x platinum, denoting sales of fifteen million in the United States alone – making it their biggest-selling album there (The Wall is 23 times platinum, but as it is a double album this only signifies sales of 11.5 million copies
In 2006 it was voted “My Favourite Album” by viewers and listeners to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Some of the profits from The Dark Side of the Moon were invested in the production of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The members of Pink Floyd were reportedly huge Monty Python fans, to the point of interrupting recording sessions to watch the Flying Circus.
On 8 February 1995 the opening sequence of “Time” was played as a wakeup call for the crew of space mission STS-63.
Reissues and remastering
In 1979 The Dark Side of the Moon was released as a remastered LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL). Alan Parsons has expressed approval of MFSL’s mastering of the album. It has since been re-released several times on CD. MFSL remastered and re-released the album again in CD Ultradisc form in April 1988, with new, factory-sealed examples of this version currently selling for well over a hundred dollars on the Internet.
The Dark Side of the Moon was again re-released later as a remastered CD as part of the 1992 box set Shine On. The 1992 remaster was then re-released by itself as a 20th Anniversary box set edition with postcards. On most CD pressings, an orchestral version of The Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” is barely audible after “Eclipse”, playing very faintly over the heartbeats that close the album. It is unknown why this was included, but it may have been the consequence of a remastering error. The bootleg recording A Tree Full of Secrets includes an amplified, re-processed version of this oddity, which allows it to be heard clearly. This is not audible on the original vinyl.
A mix originally released in SQ format by Harvest Records (Q4SHVL-804) languished in obscurity for about 30 years before an anonymous “professional sound engineer” obtained the master tape from Abbey Road Studios in 2003 and created a DVD-Audio bootleg, which is now a torrent circulating the Internet.
The Dark Side of the Moon was re-released as a 30th anniversary hybrid Super Audio CD with a 5.1 channel DSD surround sound version remixed from the original 16-track studio tapes. Some surprise was expressed when the band elected not to use the older quadraphonic mix from Parsons (mixed shortly after the original release), and instead chose to have their current engineer James Guthrie create a new 5.1 surround sound mix on the SACD format. Guthrie has worked with the band since co-producing and engineering their 1979 release, The Wall, and had previously worked on surround versions of The Wall for DVD-video, and Waters’s In the Flesh for SACD. Speaking in 2003, Alan Parsons expressed some disappointment with Guthrie’s SACD mix, when compared to his original quadraphonic mix:
I’m generally rather disappointed. It’s not very discrete. There is some discrete information in there. But I found myself, about two-thirds of the way through, kind of forgetting that this was surround. James was possibly a little too true to the original mix. He could have taken some risks, as I did on the quad. One of the parameters I always work with when I’m mixing for surround is: Keep the Interest. If there’s nothing going on, then stick something in the back.
Speaking of the surround sound mix for “On the Run”, Parsons said: “After hearing his mix for a while, I think I’m hearing stereo with a bit of surround.” He went on to praise the mix for other songs, particularly for “The Great Gig in the Sky” – ““I tip my hat to James for sorting out the correct bits of Clare’s vocals. And he has improved on the stereo mix, which is a bit wishy-washy. The stereo is heavy on the Hammond organ, and Clare’s a little too far down. In my quad mix, the Hammond is barely there, which shows you I really wasn’t being faithful to the stereo mix. The quad sounds pretty good, but James still has the edge. His mix is definitely cleaner, and he’s brought Clare out a bit more.”
The Dark Side of the Moon was also re-released in 2003 on 180-gram virgin vinyl (mastered by Kevin Gray at AcousTech Mastering) and included slightly different versions of the original posters and stickers that came with the original vinyl release, along with a new 30th anniversary poster.
Progressive metal band Dream Theater has covered the album live in its entirety several times. They have also released one of the performances on CD and DVD on their independent record label Ytsejam Records
On 2 November 1998, the band Phish covered the album in its entirety, as part of the second set of their show that night, in West Valley City, Utah.
In 2000, The Not So Bright Side of the Moon was released by The Squirrels featuring a full cover of the entire album.
In 2003 the New York dub collective the Easy Star All Stars released their dub reworking Dub Side of the Moon.
From the Dark Side of the Moon is a song-by-song “re-imagining” of the album by former October Project vocalist Mary Fahl. Owing to the re-organization of label V2 Records, this recording has not seen an official release.
The group “Voices on The Dark Side” released the album Dark Side Of The Moon A Cappella, which is a complete a cappella version of the album.
Jazz musicians Sam Yahel, Mike Moreno, Ari Hoenig and Seamus Blake released their Jazz Side Of The Moon in 2008.
The Petaluma, California bluegrass band Poor Man’s Whiskey frequently covers the entire album in a bluegrass style, calling the suite Dark Side of the Moonshine.
Dark Side of the Rainbow
Main article: Dark Side of the Rainbow
Since at least 1994 rumours have circulated on the internet that the album was a soundtrack to the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. David Gilmour and Nick Mason have both denied any connection between the two works, and Roger Waters has described the rumours as “amusing”.
All lyrics written by Roger Waters.
# Title Music Length
1. “Speak to Me” Nick Mason 1:30
2. “Breathe” David Gilmour, Waters, Richard Wright 2:43
3. “On the Run” Gilmour, Waters 3:30
4. “Time” Gilmour, Waters, Wright, Mason 6:53
5. “The Great Gig in the Sky” Wright, Clare Torry 4:15
# Title Music Length
1. “Money” Waters 6:30
2. “Us and Them” Waters, Wright 7:34
3. “Any Colour You Like” Gilmour, Wright, Mason 3:24
4. “Brain Damage” Waters 3:50
5. “Eclipse” Waters 1:45
Timings above are from the original UK LP edition. Alternate timings can be found on various CD re-issues.
* David Gilmour – lead vocals, guitar, VCS 3 synthesiser, production
* Roger Waters – bass guitar, vocals, VCS 3 synthesiser, tape effects, production
* Richard Wright – keyboards, vocals, VCS 3 synthesiser, production
* Nick Mason – drums, percussion, tape effects, production
* Clare Torry – vocals (on “The Great Gig in the Sky”)
* Lesley Duncan – background vocals
* Doris Troy – background vocals
* Barry St. John – background vocals
* Liza Strike – background vocals
* Dick Parry – saxophone on “Money” and “Us and Them”
* Alan Parsons – engineer
* Peter James – assistant engineer (incorrectly identified as “Peter Jones” on first US pressings of the LP)
* Chris Thomas – mixing consultant
* James Guthrie – remastering supervisor on 20th anniversary edition, remastering on 30 anniversary editions, 5.1 mixing on 30th anniversary edition
* Doug Sax – remastering on 20th and 30th anniversary editions
* Hipgnosis – design, photography
* Storm Thorgerson – 20th and 30th anniversary edition designs
* George Hardie – illustrations, sleeve art
* Jill Furmanovsky – photography
* David Sinclair – liner notes in CD re-release
* Drew Vogel – art and photography in CD re-release
In some countries, notably the UK, Pink Floyd did not release any singles between 1968’s “Point Me at the Sky” and 1979’s “Another Brick in the Wall (Part Two)”. However, the following were released in the U.S. and many other countries:
* “Money” / “Any Colour You Like” – Harvest / Capitol 3609; released June 1973.
US promo copies edited out the second half of the word “bullshit” from “Money”. An uncensored promo version also exists, and was immediately withdrawn. Replacement censored copies were sent to radio stations with a “frantic” note advising disc jockeys to dispose of the first copy.
* “Time” / “Us and Them” – Harvest / Capitol 45373; released 4 February 1974
The latter is sometimes considered a double A-side single.
Year Chart Position Notes
1973 UK album chart 2 Initial album release
1973 Billboard’s Pop Albums (North America) 1 Initial album release
1973 Australian Kent Music Report 2 Initial album release
1973 Norway’s album chart 2 Initial album release
1980 Norway’s album chart 9 Re-entry
1993 UK album chart 4 Re-entry
1993 Australian ARIA Albums Chart 11 Re-entry
1994 UK album chart 38 Re-issue
2003 UK album chart 17 30th Anniversary Hybrid SACD Edition
2003 Billboard’s Pop Catalog (North America) 1 30th Anniversary Hybrid SACD Edition
2003 Norway’s album chart 7 30th Anniversary Hybrid SACD Edition
Year Chart Single Position
1973 Billboard Pop Singles (North America) “Money” 13
1974 Billboard Pop Singles (North America) “Time” 101
1974 Billboard Pop Singles (North America) “Us and Them” 101
Selected album sales
Country Certification Sales Last certification date Comment
Austria 2x Platinum 60,000 + 15 May 2003
Australia 11x Platinum 770,000 +
Canada 2x Diamond 2,000,000+ 14 March 2003
Europe 12x Platinum 13,450,000+ 7th best selling album in Europe
France 1x Diamond 1,250,000+
Germany 2x Platinum 400,000+ 1993
Poland 1x Platinum 20,000+ 2003
United Kingdom 9x Platinum 3,800,000+ 15 April 2005 6th best selling album in UK
United States RIAA 15x Platinum 15,000,000+ 6 April 1998 11x Platinum at 16 February 1990
United States Soundscan 8x Platinum 8,360,000+ since 1991