Today in 1988: Dark Side of the Moon sets a Billboard Record

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Thirty years ago to the day, Pink Floyd’s iconic eighth studio album, “Dark Side of the Moon”, saw its last week on the Billboard’s Hot 200 Album Chart. The highly-successful album stayed on the chart for a record breaking 741 weeks straight.

“Dark Side of the Moon” was released in 1973, and reached the #1 position on the Billboard chart almost immediately after. Since then, it has become a staple of music, and one of the most influential albums of all time. Its iconic cover art has been printed onto countless shirts, shoes, posters, and almost anything else you can imagine.

So, as a way of paying homage to Pink Floyd’s achievement, we’ll be looking at a few of the tracks from “Dark Side of the Moon”, and see if they still carry important truths in them, forty-five years after the album’s release.

“Speak to Me” / “Breathe (In the Air)”

The album opens with “Speak to Me”, a one-minute intro track that starts the album off with a heartbeat. This ties into the overall themes of the human experience found in “Dark Side of the Moon”. This is the birth of the album.

“Breathe (In the Air)” feels very much like waking up from a dream. It’s only about a minute longer than “Speak to Me”, but that last minute holds the poignant lyrics I always come back for. “Don’t be afraid to care / Leave, don’t leave me / Look around, choose your own ground”.

“Time”

This one hardly needs an introduction, and if I were to explain its subject matter, I think we’d all feel a bit dumb. But here I go anyway.

“Time” deals with, of course, the passage of time. But upon closer inspection, it reads as more of a warning to not waste your own. “Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain / You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today”. The song’s title may be “Time”, but death as a theme can be found in most of these lines.

Another couplet of lines that I find moving is, “And then one day you find ten years have got behind you / No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun”.

“Time” ends with a reprise back into “Breathe (In the Air)”, taking two steps forward and one step back, echoing the sentiment that despite time, we often don’t change, and revert back to older versions of ourselves.

“The Great Gig in the Sky”

“The Great Gig in the Sky” marks the halfway point of “Dark Side of the Moon”, and end of the first side. The title is a metaphor for death, and, while there are no lyrics, you can hear in the beginning a few lines.

“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”.

“Money”

“Money” is the first track on the second side of the album, and deals with, you guessed it, money. There’s a good dose of irony in Waters’ lyrics as he tackles greed and consumerism with the tongue-in-cheek lyrics.

“Money, get back / I’m all right Jack, keep your hands off of my stack / Money, it’s a hit / Don’t give me that do goody good bullshit”.

The song is made more ironic by the fact that it remains one of the most popular and commercial songs ever written by Pink Floyd.

“Us and Them”

“Us and Them” comments on conflicts like war using simple dichotomies. Here’s a few of my favorite lines, “With, without / And who’ll deny it’s what the fighting’s all about?”

The last few lyrics of the song comment on homelessness, and the attitude of the common, successful businessman, ending on a melancholic note. “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”.

 

Well, that’s about all the “time” (sorry) we have today. Keep this great record in mind today, and maybe go back and listen to a few of those standout tracks.

 

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