In our cover feature story, we’re offering an in-depth look at the making of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. For the piece, we spoke with a wide spectrum of artists about the legacy of the album and how it influenced their music.
My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James:
I wish more heads of record labels and heads of the music industry would look at Dark Side of the Moon. In it you have one of the most psychedelic journeys ever committed to tape and it’s one of the most successful records of all time. I was just talking to somebody about Nirvana Nevermind and said the same thing. Nevermind was such a weird thing when it came out, and you’d think that instead of trying to make everything normal and everybody fit into these cookie cutter boxes, people would look at those successes and say, “Just let a band do what they want, let’s let a band just be weird and make a weird record. It can work.”
We’re really lucky though because we made sure when we signed our contracts we had full artistic control over the music and the artwork. I made sure that nobody could ever tell us that we couldn’t be weird. But I think that the music business is a really tough trench to navigate, especially for young bands who are just signing a contract and they’re excited and stuff, and then they get into it and there’s all this pressure and they make you change your art a lot of times. I just think an album like Dark Side of the Moon proves that art and commerce can mix and lead to the evolution of humanity. I think of so many minds that have been expanded because of Dark Side of the Moon. They would have never heard it were it not such a successful record.
Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan:
In the early 1980s I was riding in a friend’s car and he goes, “Have you ever heard Dark Side of the Moon?” I was like, “Yeah, I’ve heard it.” They were like, “No, have you actually sat and listened to it?” So we just drove around and around and listened to the album. I had listened to albums and I was crazy about music, but that thing was from some other level. You had to acknowledge, “This is weird.” There is some experience here that is distinct from, say, Sgt. Pepper or Pet Sounds. That’s when I started going back and really looking at Pink Floyd in a much more serious way.
From a geeky audio perspective, Dark Side of the Moon is a landmark. But when I was a kid it wasn’t so much about the sound. It was about the emotional experience. It was kind of an out-of-body thing. It taps some inner loneliness and alienation, but it does it in this way that sort of has a humanity to it. That’s what I think is so brilliant about it. It both alienates and isolates you, but you don’t end up feeling bummed out when it’s over.
When the Beatles would talk about Sgt. Pepper being a concept record, Lennon would shit all over it and say it’s not a concept record. He’d say, “It’s a fucking lame idea and we just stitched together the songs to go together.” You can project a concept record on Sgt. Pepper, but it’s not really there. Pet Sounds has a similar thing with alienation. But Dark Side of the Moon is a concept record. It has a narrative theme with a beginning, middle and end. It goes somewhere and actually makes sense. There’s not a wasted ounce on the fucking thing.
Andre 3000 got me into Pink Floyd back in 1995. He said he wanted me to listen to Dark Side of the Moon straight through. Then somebody else told me I should listen to it while watching The Wizard of Oz on the third lion roar, and I did that. What really impressed me about was the deep history and the cohesiveness of all the music. A lot of tempos change, but with the same melody and the same message throughout the song. After that, I became a groupie.
I’m a big fan of Roger [Waters]’s writing. I write in a similar way. It’s a prolific, pure kind of writing. I totally understand what he’s saying the whole time, whereas other people might feel it’s kind of obscure and needs some decoding. But he’s speaking my language.
I love all of Dark Side Of The Moon, from “Breathe” all the way through “Eclipse.” It’s just like one long song. It’s not something you can appreciate by buying 99 cent singles. It’s a whole piece. I do like the rest of the Floyd catalog. I like the concepts of Animals and The Wall, when I think of Pink Floyd I think of Dark Side of the Moon.
Before this interview, I listened to the album all damn day. It just brings back so much to me. I choreographed a whole dance piece of the whole album back in high school. I have it on video. My motif is a circle. Most of the movements were in a circle. Kind of very trivial. When it got to “Money,” which is a weird time signature, the piece was really active with four male dancers and two female dancers. There were lots of lifts.
Pink Floyd put their heart, sweat and tears into that beast. It just means so much, and I’m happy to be able to introduce it to my children. It’s a whimsical, fantastic voyage. Everybody should try watching it with The Wizard of Oz. On the third roar, just push play and you turn the volume down. The soundtrack goes so well with the movie. It’s freaky. It’s amazing. If you haven’t tried that, you aren’t a true Dark Side of the Moon fan. You are full of shit.
Ben Browning of Cut Copy:
Dark Side of the Moon was kind of a mind-altering experience for me. When I was about 18 or 19, I found it in my parent’s record collection. I think it’s that kind of thing that we’re all interested in. That’s where pop music and rock meets kind of experimental aspects of music. It’s one of those records that kind of hits the mark. It’s an amazing piece of work.
• Surviving Members of Pink Floyd Revisit ‘Dark Side,’ Band Tensions
• Roger Waters Bringing the Wall Tour to American Baseball Stadiums
• Nick Mason: I Can’t Let Go of Pink Floyd
• Alan Parsons on ‘Dark Side’: ‘Roger Knew Something Great Was in the Making’
• Storm Thorgerson: How I Designed the Cover of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’
• Behind the Scenes of Pink Floyd’s 2011 Reunion
• Inside Pink Floyd: Rolling Stone’s 1987 Cover Story
• The Madcap Who Named Pink Floyd: Rolling Stone’s 1971 Interview with Syd Barrett
• Rolling Stone Readers Pick Their 10 Favorite Pink Floyd Songs
• Photos: Roger Waters Rehearses For the Wall Tour
• The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: Pink Floyd, ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’