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 (13)
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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?

  • 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.

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