Pink Floyd Biography
On the dark side of the moon (1972 - 1977)
"There is no dark
side of the moon, really. As a matter of fact it's all dark..." A
quote from Pink Floyd's most successful album and one of the most
successful albums of all time. More than 40 million copies of Dark Side
Of The Moon have been sold all over the world and more than 30 years
after its original release it is considered a cult classic. Waters'
creativity proved by Obscured By Clouds showed even better in key tracks
that make the core of the album, which - although it contains hits like
Money, then most played track on American radio stations - surprised
the world by its originality and concept. It was the linking of the
songs, which have much in common both thematically and musically, that
made the album a world phenomenon. Concept albums later became Waters'
trademark. The most dominant lyrical theme of the album is mental
illness, and all the things, that can drive a man insane. There are
references to Syd Barett's story as well, notably in the song Brain
Damage. In the beginning, the album did not seem to be anything
extraordinary. But while every other album's sales decreased in time,
DSOTM sold better and better. When according to statistics, every single
family in the UK owned a copy, the album kept selling. And it still
Dark Side Of The Moon, from the opening track Speak To Me to the last
one, Eclipse, deals with the pressure people have to cope with. It
contains elements of musique concréte, not strictly musical sounds,
spoken word, laughter and so on. That is partly because Waters was
inspired by the ideas of people he had interviewed near the Abbey Road
studios, and whose answers he had recorded. This way he got the mad
laughter that can be heard on the album, or Jerry Driscoll's "prophecy"
mentioned in the beginning of this article. Waters' questions about life
and death, insanity and the pressure the world imposes on man were even
answered by Paul McCartney, but Pink Floyd chose not to use his answers
for being too long and philosophic.
The album artwork is notorious. Storm Thorgerson and his Hipgnosis
art design group designed a cover that in his own words symbolizes
infinity. The front cover shows a prism dispersing light into a rainbow
with the violet colour purposely misplaced. The rainbow draws to the
back cover, where another prism joins the colours back together, which
is impossible in reality, so that the simple, yet impressive artwork
features a single infinite beam of light.
Another Pink Floyd invention was the circular screen the band started
to use in 1974 to screen photos and later videos, which accompanied the
After the huge, unexpected success of the Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink
Floyd had to deal with a problem: what to do next? It seemed like there
was no way to go even better. The band was struck by indifference and
resignation. They seemed not only to be surprised by the immense
success, but hurt. Pink Floyd were getting tired by questions like "What
can you say of the great success of DSOTM?" that they were asked again
and again. They performed plenty of gigs, including the American tour,
but were not very creative then. But soon, someone made them start all
over again. A journalist, editor of a women's magazine, was asked to
interview Pink Floyd. Just his very first question got the band, well,
amazed. The man said: "OK, which of you guys is Pink?"The answer came
with the next album.
According to Waters, Wish You Were Here should have been called Wish WE
Were Here. The album was recorded in the summer of 1974, which was
extremely hot. It is said that it was the tiring heat and the effort to
show everyone that Pink Floyd were not just Dark Side Of The Moon, that
most influenced the final shape of the album. The first half of the
album is Waters' Shine On You Crazy Diamond, an opus about Syd. Its
lyrics are perhaps the clearest reference to Syd's heritage ever made by
Pink Floyd. Then they didn't know Syd was actually very near to them.
None of them knew what Syd looked like anymore, since they hadn't seen
him for years. When a fat bald man with a white plastic bag in his hand
walked into the studio, everyone considered him to be an EMI employee.
After some time the man had spent sitting in the studio with them,
Waters whispered into Gilmour's ear: "God, look at that guy, you know
who he is?"
"No, ain't got a clue," said David.
"Look more carefully, that is Syd!"
Gilmour was moved, but Waters is said to have "cried like a fool" when
he found out who the fat, bald person was. Syd explained the way he
looked quite laconically: "I got a big fridge at home and I eat a lot of
pork chops." Then he offered to work with them.
In the end, when the band had repeated a few bars of Shine On You
Crazy Diamond a number of times and wanted the sound engineer to play it
once more, Syd, who had been listening to it and did not realize that
the song was actually about him, asked a mysterious and nearly
philosophical question: "Why do you want to hear the song again? I
thought you had already listened to it." Then he left and none of the
musicians ever saw him again.
The Wish You Were Here album is extraordinary in many ways. For
example, the vocals in Have A Cigar ale delivered by a hired singer,
whose name was Roy Harper. Another special thing is that the song Wish
You Were Here itself had its lyrics done before the music, as the only
song in the entire Pink Floyd discography. The album also has sort of a
concept (actually, all of the Pink Floyd albums since Dark Side had some
kind of a concept.) In this case it were the feelings of alienation,
loss, loneliness and emptiness, along with the pressure the music
industry applies on musicians to make them write more songs and to make
the songs even better than the last ones. Obviously, this was influenced
by the Dark Side Of The Moon album experience... The alienation was
reflected even by the album's artwork, which seemed to be absent. The LP
was covered in black plastic film with a sticker, which showed a circle
divided into quarters, that represented the four elements and two
robotic hands. The actual artwork under the film shows two men shaking
hands in front of film studios. One of the men is on fire, but he
doesn't seem to mind the flames...
The band's later work was influenced by the boom of punk. It is well
known that the British scene was hit by punk more than any other. It was
partly because of the fact that punk always reflected the political
situation of the country. After the both politically and economically
prosperous sixties, an economic crisis hit Britain and the social class
distinction, once nearly abolished, appeared again and was easily seen.
The "hollering lads from the streets" wanted to affect their environment
much more than they were allowed to by the government. That is how a
new style, that influenced even reputable musicians such as Pink Floyd,
arose. The punks started to call them dinosaurs, who crush everyone else
with their million dollar incomes and sold out stadiums. They were
called fat old geezers, and the punks more or less rejected them
(although they admired the works of Syd Barrett.) Bands such as Pink
Floyd or Rolling Stones naturally wanted to answer to that and they
started to make both the lyrics and the music much "harder. "When we
compare the sensitive Wish You Were Here with the next album, it seems
to be more than just a two years difference!