2000 – DirecTV broadcasts the 1939 film “The Wizar…

Dark Side of Oz

2000 – DirecTV broadcasts the 1939 film “The Wizard Of Oz,” with Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon” in sync on the alternate Second Audio Program (SAP). While no one involved with Pink Floyd has ever admitted to any link between the bands seminal 1973 album and the classic film, urban legend purports that the album was conceived as an alternate soundtrack to Dorothy’s adventures in Oz.
Dark Side of the Rainbow (also known as Dark Side of Oz or The Wizard of Floyd) is the name used to refer to the act of listening to the 1973 Pink Floyd album The Dark Side of the Moon while watching the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz for moments where the film and the album appear to correspond with each other. The title of the music video-like experience comes from a combination of the album title and the film’s song “Over the Rainbow”. It is also a reference to the rainbow from a prism design on the cover of the Pink Floyd album.


Although the Dark Side of the Rainbow has become famous, its origin is murky. In 1994, fans of Pink Floyd discussed the phenomenon on the Usenet message board alt.music.pink-floyd. At that point, knowledge of who first thought of combining the two works, and why, was already lost.

Since then, several waves of attention rippled through popular culture. In August 1995, a newspaper in Fort Wayne, Indiana, published the first mainstream media article about the “synchronicity”, citing alt.music.pink-floyd. (Note that the term “synchronicity” is used here to mean: The apparent or alleged purposeful parallels in timing between two different creative objects, in order to create a single new object, or to enhance the experience of one of them; rather than the philosophical meaning of Synchronicity, in which the coincidence would be unintended by the creators.) Soon afterward, several fans began creating websites in which they touted the experience and tried to catalog comprehensively the corresponding moments. A second wave of awareness began in April 1997 when a Boston radio DJ discussed Dark Side of the Rainbow on the air, leading to further mainstream media articles and a segment on MTV news.

In July 2000, the cable channel Turner Classic Movies aired a version of Oz with the Dark Side album as an alternate soundtrack. That same month, an episode from season two of the animated television show Family Guy aired that made reference to the effect; entitled “The Story on Page One”, the episode included Peter Griffin saying to Luke Perry, “I’m telling you, Dark Side of the Moon totally syncs up with the Wizard of Oz!” (Also, in the January 2002 episode “Stuck Together Torn Apart,” from Family Guy season three, the character Mort Goldman tells Griffin that he and his wife “like to watch old movies while listening to Hotel California to see if it syncs up in a significant way. And so far, no. Nothing has.”)

Several music groups have also alluded to the phenomenon. In February 2003, the reggae cover-band group Easy Star All-Stars released a cover album of The Dark Side of the Moon entitled Dub Side of the Moon, which they claimed was intentionally edited to be “compatible” with The Wizard of Oz. In June 2003, the alternative rock band Guster released an album containing the song “Come Downstairs & Say Hello,” which opens with the lines “Dorothy moves/To click her ruby shoes/Right in tune/With Dark Side of the Moon.” On the DVD commentary track of Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, Jack Black states at one point that “if you start playing Dark Side Of The Moon at this point in the film… It sounds shitty!” before laughing.

In 2004, the late night show Saturday Night Live featured a parody of the Wizard of Oz. At the end, Darrel Hammond steps onstage and says, “Now, if you want a truly awesome experience, rewind this sketch to the beginning, light up a fatty, and put on Dark Side of the Moon. Trust me, it’s mind blowing.” After saying this, “Money” begins to play in the background.

In the 2005 film The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz, Pepe the Prawn can be heard to say Those of you who have Dark Side of the Moon, press play now.

Dark Side of the Rainbow has also turned up in the funny pages. In June 2006, a “Born Loser” newspaper comic strip built a punch-line around a headache the main character developed while listening to the Dark Side of the Moon while watching The Wizard of Oz.

In 2007, a Mr. Deity comedy skit made a play on Dark Side of the Rainbow by saying “Put a copy of Dark Side on, and then start reading the Book of Revelation about 35 seconds in.”, after saying “Is that not the trippiest thing you ever read?” (referring to the Book of Revelation). On the episode of The Colbert Report that aired 10/3/07, Stephen Colbert introduced his guest, former Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell, as someone who “had seen the Dark Side of the Moon.” Colbert promised to ask him if “he saw it while listening to the Wizard of Oz soundtrack.”

[edit] Synchronicity

Fans have compiled more than one hundred moments of perceived interplay between the film and album, including further links that occur if the album is repeated through the entire film. This synergy effect has been described as an example of synchronicity, defined by the psychologist Carl Jung as a phenomenon in which coincidental events “seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality.”, although most accounts assume that the effect was deliberate on Pink Floyd’s part. Detractors argue that the phenomenon is the result of the mind’s tendency to think it recognizes patterns amid disorder by discarding data that does not fit. Psychologists refer to this tendency as apophenia. Under this theory, a Dark Side of the Rainbow enthusiast will focus on matching moments while ignoring the greater number of instances where the film and the album do not correspond.

[edit] Coincidence versus intent

Pink Floyd band members have repeatedly insisted that the reputed phenomenon is coincidence. In an interview for the 25th anniversary of the album, guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour denied that the album was intentionally written to be synchronized with Oz, saying “Some guy with too much time on his hands had this idea with combining Wizard of Oz with Dark Side of the Moon.”

On an MTV special about Pink Floyd in 2002, the band dismissed any relationship between the album and the movie, saying that there were no means of reproducing the film in the studio at the time they recorded the album.

In a 2003 interview with Rolling Stone, Dark Side of the Moon engineer Alan Parsons said of the supposed effect:

“It was an American radio guy who pointed it out to me. It’s such a non-starter, a complete load of eyewash. I tried it for the first time about two years ago. One of my fiancee’s kids had a copy of the video, and I thought I had see what it was all about. I was very disappointed. The only thing I noticed was that the line “balanced on the biggest wave” came up when Dorothy was kind of tightrope walking along a fence. One of the things any audio professional will tell you is that the scope for the drift between the video and the record is enormous; it could be anything up to twenty seconds by the time the record’s finished. And anyway, if you play any record with the sound turned down on the TV, you will find things that work.”

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