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Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

Fifty years of ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’

Celebrating one of the most influential rock albums
Helen Beebe
Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” album cover features a prismatic light spectrum, a phenomenon that occurs when white light is passed through a prism. Pink Floyd’s keyboardist Richard Wright wanted a “simple and bold” design that would represent the album’s themes.

A heartbeat.

Quiet at first, growing louder within 18 seconds.

Clocks tick. A money machine starts wiring up in the background.

Someone starts laughing madly and maniacally. An oscillating fan whirs in the listener’s ears as the song enters through the gates of the album, topped with a shrilling scream.

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You’ve probably heard their songs through TikTok or Instagram. Maybe your parents played their music for you as a kid. Regardless of how you were exposed to them, you have probably heard of the 1970s rock band Pink Floyd and their most popular studio album, “The Dark Side of the Moon,” one of the most influential rock albums of all time.

This year, the album turns 50 years old.

Since 1973, the album has acted as the national anthem and foundation for many rock artists and bands throughout decades of history. This includes 1990s rock band Radiohead, psychedelic instrumentalist Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, late ’90s rock band Coldplay and 1980s psychedelic rock band The Flaming Lips.

Formed in 1965 by English musician Roger Keith “Syd” Barrett, the band started as a psychedelic rock group in London, England. Pink Floyd got its name by combining the first names of a pair of Carolina bluesmen, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. Inspiration for “The Dark Side of the Moon” had elements of the ’60s and 70s blues tunes, but it was mainly inspired by Barrett’s deteriorating mental state, hence its themes of insanity.

Other elements of the album’s inspiration include conflict, time, humanity, death, and greed. The beginning track, “Speak To Me,” begins with a heartbeat, bringing life into the album. One major thread that Pink Floyd sews throughout their songs is the element of the unexpected, which can be seen in multiple tracks on the album. Famous as well for smooth transitions, the album acts not as ten separate songs but instead as a coursing sea that flows in one direction in quiet and loud, bumpy and calm.

Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” album includes a wide range of musical elements and composition, offering listeners an almost psychedelic auditory experience through the many details, big and small. (Helen Beebe)

Within the last few months, Pink Floyd has received lots of attention on social media apps such as TikTok and Instagram through the album’s fifth track, “The Great Gig in the Sky.” This 4:45 minute-long song delivers a slow, jazzy breeze that encompasses the listener like a gentle wave.

The gentle piano and guitar breathe softly. Dialogue can be heard: “I am not frightened of dying, you know. Anytime will do, I don’t mind. Why should I be frightened of dying? There’s no reason for it, you’ve gotta go sometime.” This foreshadows the meaning behind the song – death and horror. The listener can feel something start to happen as the piano and guitar slow, suddenly rise, turn and make way for intense vocalization marked by a drumbeat.

Clare Torry, a guest singer for “The Dark Side of the Moon,” improvised all of her vocalization on “The Great Gig in the Sky.” She was 25 years old and working as a staff songwriter for record company EMI when she was offered a part on the album. After Pink Floyd presented the concept of the album to her, they explained their visualization of having female vocals on one of the songs.

“I suggested going out into the studio and trying a few things,” Torry said in an interview. “I started off using words, but they said, ‘Oh no, we don’t want any words.’ So the only thing I could think of was to make myself sound like an instrument [and] not to think like a vocalist. I did that, and they loved it.”

Maybe it was Torry’s improvisation skills that led to the creation of such a unique, addictive album. Or maybe it was the combination of the band’s own individual talents. Whatever the reason, it’s undeniable that this album will continue to be an inspiration for musicians.

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  • C

    Captain TripsApr 27, 2024 at 12:44 am

    But the young hate we Boomers and our music.

  • C

    Carl TaylorMar 16, 2024 at 10:47 am

    Great album. I think Pink Floyd is the greatest rock band ever. Shine on.

  • A

    Allan WaldenJan 3, 2024 at 1:18 pm

    I bought dark side of the moon when it came out and have replaced it 7 times. I still have the T-shirt that I bought in 1974. I’m glad that people are discovering one the most influential albums ever produced.

  • F

    FrankDec 27, 2023 at 12:45 pm

    I bought the album when it came out and now I have three albums and five different CD’s and the book and the necktie and….
    Best album ever!

    • E

      ElizabethFeb 11, 2024 at 12:43 am

      I also bought it when it came out. A masterpiece I will never get tired of listening to.