There’s no denying that Pink Floyd‘s The Dark Side of the Moon is one of the most celebrated rock albums of all time. In fact, as Speak to Me: The Legacy of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon writes, “If Pink Floyd […] never recorded a single note afterward, the band would still end up on rock’s shortlist of all-time overachievers.” Remarkably, the record charted regularly on Billboard’s Hot 200 for a whopping 15 years after its release, and with “upwards of 34 million units sold, [it’s] the third most popular album of all time” (via Speak to Me).
At the time of its release in 1973, a trend was already in full swing among Pink Floyd’s rock contemporaries. Backmasking, a recording technique in which sounds are deliberately played differently than originally intended, made way for hidden meanings and messages that fans would uncover when they took home their records. For instance, rumor had it that if you played Led Zeppelin‘s “Stairway to Heaven” backwards, you would “hear Satanic messages encoded in [Robert] Plant’s vocals” (via Salon). Similarly, it was said the Beatles‘ “Revolution 9” allegedly announced: “Paul’s a dead man.”
While these theories should be taken with a grain of salt (it was the age of psychedelics, after all), there’s another fan theory that cropped up regarding The Dark Side of the Moon –– and it involved The Wizard of Oz. The weirdest part? It wouldn’t become common knowledge until the ’90s.
Pink Floyd never intended to follow the yellow brick road
Part of Pink Floyd’s massive success with The Dark Side of the Moon came from the band deciding to tackle themes such as “greed, mental illness, the passage of time, and personal conflict,” (via Priceonomics). Well, as Little White Lies unearthed, a viral 1995 article by The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette declared that Pink Floyd’s legendary album and 1939’s fantasy hit, The Wizard of Oz, went hand in hand. “There exists a connection – no, really a synchronicity – between the two that escapes logic or understanding,” the article wrote.
As the rumor went, if you sync up your Moon CD “at the exact moment the MGM lion roars for the first time,” the results are allegedly bewildering, and you get, what was dubbed, Dark Side of the Rainbow. “Song lyrics and titles match the action and plot. The music swells and falls with [the] character’s movements,” declared the outlet. From “Time” playing as Dorothy runs from home to save Toto, to “Money” encompassing the very first scene of the lush, “Technicolor Munchkinland,” fans of both the flick and the band lapped it up.
So, was it intended? “It’s unthinkable that we would have […] devise[d] an album based on that particular story,” Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason bluntly told the BBC in 2010 (via Brain Damage). “The Tin Man, and the Straw Man, and all the rest of it, had absolutely zero to do with [Moon].”
Are fans simply looking for meanings?
While Pink Floyd themselves have debunked the idea behind Dark Side of the Rainbow, is the synchronicity of it all merely a coincidence? Well, as it turned out, it wasn’t really that synced up in the first place — save for a few obvious moments. As Goldmine writes, “the biggest coincidences seem to show up on the first trek through the album [which] may be due to greater familiarity […] of what’s going on in the movie and on the album.” Simply put, fans are probably just looking for meanings.
David Kopel of Relix magazine explains the obvious: “Pink Floyd — like Yes, The Who, Phish, and the good old Grateful Dead — makes the kind of music that could match up with all kinds of visually rich movies, such as Alice in Wonderland.” As psychology professor, Pamela Heaton told Little White Lies, the band’s “experimental nature” in their music matches the flick’s lack of “cohesive structure” and “dream-like quality.” Cognitive psychologist, Daniel Levitin, has a slightly different theory, explaining that “the human brain can successfully match up just about any piece of music with any film, and that the Dark Side of the Rainbow theory is principally driven by fandom.”
Well, there you go, folks. The Dark Side of the Moon has nothing to do with The Wizard of Oz. In fact, as Pink Floyd’s audio engineer Alan Parsons told MusicRadar (via Something Else), the band was actually watching Mary Poppins, instead.
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