Ghost Cult welcomes in guest contributor, podcaster and Pink Floyd expert Nik Cameron of The Glacially Musical Pouredcast to wax on about Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, which turned 50 years old today (March 1st, 2023).
The Dark Side of the Moon, 50 Years Later
As we sit here, author and reader, what could be arguably called the greatest prog rock album of all time, The Dark Side of the Moon, by Pink Floyd, has aged fifty years. At the time of this writing when I attempt some words about this massive achievement, I am 47 years old.
Now, this could go a couple of different ways:
- Yes, I am old.
- This album is older than me.
The latter is what I’m hoping you’ll focus on rather than the former. I have not lived in a world without “Brain Damage” or “Time.” In a real moment where I’m who I am and not trying to be cool, it would be admitted that I’m thankful for never having to have lived without it.
As a child of the 1980s, it’s easy to remember the day when the phenomenon records stopped. The tap ended. The last one in my lifetime, and likely the last time this will happen in my living years. Only two have made it into my purview, Metallica and Thriller, both of which are on the vinyl shelves in the spinning room.
It’s not easy for me to remember a time without the latter, but it’s easy to recall the former. What would it be like to remember the first time hearing Money? That song is an abject classic that everyone has heard and most of us love. The wife told the kid when El Monstero played it that this was her favorite Pink Floyd song.
Now comes the easy part… Let’s discuss what great songs there are on this album. Instead of that, let’s consider the year. It was 1973. Led Zeppelin had nearly shot their load. Judas Priest hadn’t yet arrived.
Black Sabbath…well, the fearsome foursome had about reached the end of their creative rope. In the midst of this desert when the biggest bands in the world had about ended, this art rock band from London, Pink Floyd, decided now was the time to shake the world.
Leading up to the landmark album, The Floyd had released many records. It’s funny to think now that a record label would have nurtured a band for album after album after album, until finally six years, eight albums, and four movie soundtracks into their career, they exploded.
Once again, let’s consider 1973. In 2023, it’s hard to think of a time when the recording industry was still on the new side. In 1965 the television set was everywhere. In 1945 the radio was in every home. What those two particular mediums had over the recording industry though was that there were no competing formats.
In 1950-something or other, there were three formats of recorded music, and the victor didn’t emerge until the early 1960s, which of course was the 33 and 1/3 RPM long playing record. So, the industry as we know it began in the mid to late 1960s.
Then it was still new.
Imagine if you will, a piece of media, dropping all over the world. Of course, we all loved Pink Floyd before they were cool right?
Much like when Metallica’s self-titled album flew off of the shelves, Pink Floyd had to be everywhere. The rise relates to Metallica. Even the time frames are the same. It took Metallica eight years, but Pink Floyd, only six. Even more, Pink Floyd, like Metallica, was playing a commercially unviable genre of music, prog.
The similarities continue. Metallica and Pink Floyd, after years of toiling in the underground, return with albums that feature far more commercially accessible albums that don’t stray too far from what they were doing.
The Floyd and Metallica comparisons are easy. What’s really hard is to think about all of these phenomenon albums. In my life, there was Metallica and before that was Thriller, and before that, there was Rumours. Before that was Bat Out of Hell and before that, such and such.
But what was the first super mega-seller?
It was Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.
Not only was this record the unofficial stoner’s soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz, but it was the first runaway success, or blockbuster, of the world of recorded music.
This was their beginning.
50 years later, two of the three remaining members have largely abandoned the six records that came before it. Only Nick Mason continues to celebrate the early years. When I turn on my local classic rock station, daily, they will play the big hits.
YouTube and Spotify will suggest to you this record.
Who could picture a world without that prism and rainbow?
I cannot and neither can you. This record has become more than a piece of work in the canon of Pink Floyd, classic rock, or anything else. It has found itself in the ups and downs of pop culture.
Much to my personal chagrin, the word iconic is the only way to describe the songs and cover of this abject masterpiece.
Pink Floyd’s magnum opus will always be a part of the world we all live in.
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WORDS BY NIK CAMERON