Dark Side of the Rainbow: Pink Floyd Meets The Wizard of Oz in One of the Earliest Mash-Ups

Dude, I’m seri­ous; you cue up The Wiz­ard of Oz, you cue up Dark Side of the Moon, and you start ’em up at the same time. It total­ly works. Too many syn­chronic­i­ties to explain away. Blow your mind, man.

Laugh though we may at those who con­sid­er it an intense evening to enter their pre­ferred state of mind, shall we say, and feel for res­o­nances between a 1939 MGM musi­cal and Pink Floy­d’s eighth album, we can’t deny that the mash-up Dark Side of the Rain­bow, as they call it (when they don’t call it Dark Side of Oz or The Wiz­ard of Floyd), has become a seri­ous, if mod­est, cul­tur­al phe­nom­e­non.

In fact, since enthu­si­asm for play­ing Dark Side of the Moon while watch­ing The Wiz­ard of Oz goes back at least as far as Usenet dis­cus­sions in the mid-nineties, it may well count as the first inter­net mash-up ever. Word of the view­ing expe­ri­ence’s uncan­ni­ness has, since then, extend­ed far beyond the wood-pan­eled-base­ment set; even an insti­tu­tion as osten­si­bly square as the cable chan­nel Turn­er Clas­sic Movies once aired The Wiz­ard of Oz with Dark Side of the Moon as its sound­track.

Clear­ly, peo­ple get some­thing out of the com­bi­na­tion no mat­ter their state of mind. At the very least, they get amuse­ment at the coin­ci­dences where the album’s sounds and lyri­cal themes meet and seem­ing­ly match the events of the pic­ture. Dark-side-of-the-rainbow.com offers a thor­ough­ly anno­tat­ed list of these inter­sec­tions, from the fad­ing-in heart­beat that opens the album align­ing with the appear­ance of the movie’s title:

In this con­cept album, we have [sym­bol­i­cal­ly] the begin­ning of human life. Many par­ents begin the process of nam­ing the child, as soon as they become aware of its exis­tence, often before they even know the sex of the child. Here, we have the name of a movie, which just hap­pens to be the name of one of the char­ac­ters in the movie, just as we are becom­ing aware of this new life.

To the lyric that accom­pa­nies Dorothy’s entry into Munchkin­land:

“Get a job with more pay and you’re OK”: Dorothy does­n’t know it yet, but she is about to be pro­mot­ed from farm girl to slay­er of wicked witch­es.

To the album-clos­ing heart­beat that plays as the Tin Man receives a heart of his own:

On the album, this heart­beat going dead rep­re­sents death. Tin Man’s new heart, which we can hear tick­ing, sym­bol­izes rebirth. Once again, this con­trast of what we see in the movie, and what we hear on the album is about pro­vid­ing bal­ance. And as this is how the sto­ry ends, this bal­ance speaks of how, in the end, the fairy­tale has indeed over­come the tragedy.

Pink Floyd them­selves have dis­avowed any com­po­si­tion­al intent in this mat­ter (Alan Par­sons, who engi­neered the record­ing, calls the very idea “a com­plete load of eye­wash”), and even Dark Side of the Rain­bow’s most ded­i­cat­ed enthu­si­asts sel­dom doubt them. Some may insist that the band, already adept at com­pos­ing film scores, did it all sub­con­scious­ly, but to me, the endur­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty of this ear­ly mash-up stands as evi­dence of some­thing far more inter­est­ing: mankind’s unend­ing ten­den­cy — com­pul­sion, even — to find pat­terns where none may exist. “When coin­ci­dences pile up in this way, one can­not help being impressed by them—for the greater the num­ber of terms in such a series, or the more unusu­al its char­ac­ter, the more improb­a­ble it becomes.” Carl Jung wrote that about the psy­cho­log­i­cal con­cept of syn­chronic­i­ty. If only he’d lived to watch this.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

BBC Radio Play Based on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon Stream­ing Free For Lim­it­ed Time

Pink Floyd Pro­vides the Sound­track for the BBC’s Broad­cast of the 1969 Moon Land­ing

Watch Pink Floyd Plays Live in the Ruins of Pom­peii (1972)

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les PrimerFol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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Comments (14)
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  • Dellu says:

    “mankindu2019s unend­ing ten­den­cy u2014 com­pul­sion, even u2014 to find pat­terns where none may exist.“nnhmmm.…my lin­guis­tics pro­fes­sor was say­ing exact­ly the same thing, just two days ago.

  • Mike Flores says:

    The true sto­ry beats the hell out of this coin­ci­dence: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151594071050986&l=66dfbd4efa

  • seralf says:

    i real­ly enjoyed this oth­er one and it works too! nhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcPZ69myGecnn:-)

  • AB says:

    If a pat­tern is dis­cov­ered, does­n’t this mean that one exists, even if it is only between one per­son and one image, or note?

    • Jay says:

      Agreed. A pat­tern is a pat­tern. “Coin­cide” is what you get when you apply a bad the­o­ry.- some­body else said that.

  • AB says:

    Clas­sic rock dubbed over a clas­sic film is news­wor­thy, indeed. But there are even bet­ter exam­ples of scenery mixed with music. This may be one of the best I have found: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G‑HJ5t-5UK0nThe Moody Blues rep­re­sent psy­che­del­ic times; how­ev­er, for more than a cou­ple decades I find their music moti­vates the cre­ative side of my mind. Many instru­ments, many tones, superb cre­ative writ­ing.… Peo­ple do not need drugs; they need to lis­ten.…

  • Pincho paxton says:

    Atom Heart Oz is bet­ter. I think that Dis­ney synced the new Oz film on pur­pose.

  • Joy says:

    We liked it bet­ter with Rocky Hor­ror dubbed over.

  • Rico Mäder #rmader (@ricovmader) says:

    What a genius idea and per­for­mance you cre­ate!
    Make me fly and flux like a neu­tri­no.
    Tks for got togeth­er two spe­cial arts, Music and Movie.
    And tks Open­Cul­ture to let us be Uni­ver­sal, syn!

  • Kara Bismarck Thurbush says:

    So dis­ap­point­ed. Not avail­able due to copy­right.

  • Scott Vandy says:

    This goes back a lot fur­ther than the 90s. We were syn­chro­niz­ing Dark Side to Wiz­ard of Oz back when I was in high school in 1982. I clear­ly remem­ber start­ing the album on the 3rd MGM lions roar. I was search­ing the web to try to see who the first to do this was but all I get, even on Wikipedia is that it start­ed in the mid 90s. This is so wrong.
    I just con­tact­ed two of my old high school friends that also clear­ly remem­ber doing this back in 82. The inter­net is filled with so much inac­cu­rate infor­ma­tion that it is almost use­less unless you know exact­ly what sites you are vis­it­ing that are reli­able.

  • Lucy says:

    You cue up DSOTM when she steps out the door. If you start them togeth­er it does not sync up. This start­ing togeth­er is only recent, it kin­da ruins the whole expe­ri­ence.
    When she steps into the col­or and the music start­ing it comes out prop­er­ly time wise and sto­ry wise.

  • richard white says:

    Yeah, I remem­ber hear­ing about it in the mid to late 80s.

  • Daniel Edlen says:

    So if you stop Dark Side after the first play and start Sgt. Pep­per, it’s around the tin man cross­ing his arms danc­ing, it’s pret­ty cool. Mr. Kite starts right when the car­ni­val hors­es come in and oth­er great moments. Try it!

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