A Deep, Track-by-Track Analysis of The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd’s Musical Journey Through the Stresses & Anxieties of Modern Existence

Pink Floy­d’s The Dark Side of the Moon turned 50 ear­li­er this year, which per­haps makes it seem easy to dis­miss as an arti­fact of a bygone era. It belongs to a peri­od in pop­u­lar music his­to­ry when musi­cians and bands were approach­ing their albums with ever-greater aes­thet­ic and intel­lec­tu­al ambi­tions — what I’ve come to call the medi­um’s “hero­ic age” — whose prod­ucts can strike twen­ty-first-cen­tu­ry lis­ten­ers as exces­sive, pre­ten­tious, and even unhinged. But in spite of the ambi­ence of dorm-room THC haze that has long hung around it, The Dark Side of the Moon remains rel­e­vant today, deal­ing as it does with such eter­nal themes as youth, choice, mor­tal­i­ty, and mad­ness — to say noth­ing of time and mon­ey.

That’s how Poly­phon­ic cre­ator Noah Lefevre frames it in the video above, an hour-long track-by-track analy­sis of the Floy­d’s best-known album. It’s actu­al­ly a com­pi­la­tion of all eight episodes of a series orig­i­nal­ly released in 2020, which, much like The Dark Side of the Moon Itself, ben­e­fits from being expe­ri­enced not in parts but as a whole.

Lefevre describes the album as “about the stress­es and strug­gles that make human exis­tence what it is. It’s about all the noise that con­stant­ly sur­rounds us, and about try­ing to cut through that noise to find truth, beau­ty, and mean­ing.” He also quotes Pink Floyd front­man Roger Waters ascrib­ing to it the state­ment that “all the good things life can offer are there for us to grasp, but that the influ­ence of some dark force in our natures pre­vents us from seiz­ing them.”

The Dark Side of the Moon has endured not just by deal­ing with those themes, but also by doing so with a cin­e­mat­ic son­ic rich­ness. That owes much to the work of Alan Par­sons, who engi­neered the record­ing, but most of the album’s long con­cep­tion hap­pened out­side the stu­dio. “It start­ed out with a few weeks in a rehearsal space dur­ing which Pink Floyd wrote a rough out­line for the piece,” says Lefevre. “Then the band took that on tour, even though it was far from com­ple­tion. They per­formed six­teen dates in the UK, play­ing the album in full each night”; all the while, they “worked through the album, fine-tun­ing it and devel­op­ing it.” This explains why the result — which, like all of Pink Floy­d’s albums, you can hear free on Youtube — sounds painstak­ing­ly pro­duced yet organ­ic. Give The Dark Side of the Moon anoth­er lis­ten today, and you’ll under­stand why it’s per­sist­ed like the con­di­tion of mod­ern life itself.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Pink Floyd’s Entire Stu­dio Discog­ra­phy is Now on YouTube: Stream the Stu­dio & Live Albums

Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon Turns 50: Hear It Get Psy­cho­an­a­lyzed by Neu­ro­sci­en­tist Daniel Lev­itin

Down­load Pink Floyd’s 1975 Com­ic Book Pro­gram for The Dark Side of the Moon Tour

A Live Stu­dio Cov­er of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, Played from Start to Fin­ish

“The Dark Side of the Moon” and Oth­er Pink Floyd Songs Glo­ri­ous­ly Per­formed by Irish & Ger­man Orches­tras

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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  • Mark says:

    This morn­ing I saw a head­line, waters has a cease order on his use of Nazi imagery .
    I thought, one of the cre­ators of the music my mind floats on and floats inside and tak­en me far and held me fast, is one of those peo­ple .

  • LJ Wolfe says:

    You may want to update this arti­cle, since YouTube has pulled the video. :-(

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