And if the cloud bursts thunder in your ear…

I’ve always been mad, I know I’ve been mad. I’ve been mad for f**king years.

Well, not my words, but it could explain why I’ve been listening to a particular album for fifty years. Not any old album. But the best ever in my opinion. The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. A brooding, magnificent psychedelic concept album which first saw the light of day in 1973.

Words like psychedelic, concept and progressive probably turn a lot of people off. And I know some readers will not like this album. But I make no apology for saying that, in my opinion, DSOTM stands at the very apex of rock music. What intrigues me so much is why I return to this album time and time again and listen anew with undiminished pleasure.

DSOTM is not an album that you simply select tracks to listen to. You put it on and get drawn into the whole experience. I find it almost impossible to listen only to segments, it’s all or nothing. An air of doom pervades the whole thing, as you might expect of an album which is supposed to be about life, death, madness and the pressures of life! For me things kick into overdrive at 2.59 in the fourth track, Time, with the arrival of the “girls”, as they are referred to on the session sheets. Lisa Strike, Doris Troy, Lesley Duncan and Barry St. John.

 “Tired of lying in the sunshine,

   Staying home to watch the rain
And you are young and life is long
And there is time to kill today”

Those backing vocals are majestic throughout. Great songs, great concept, great guitar solos, great sax solos, great vocals. I mean, it ticks all the boxes, and more.

The statistics underlying its greatness barely need mentioning. But let’s mention them anyway. 45 million record sales,1,000 weeks on the Billboard 200 album charts  and goodness knows how many streams. The album has been met with great critical acclaim. In the words of former Sunday Times rock journalist Robert Sandall: Dark Side Of The Moon was one of the most important artistic statements of the last 50 years probably. It touched very many people, all over the world in ways that could not be put down to “Oh they’re nice tunes” or “I like that bit at the end.” It was a complete experience.”

One of the most endearing aspects of the album are the spoken pieces between tracks. Roger Waters got Abbey Road staff to respond to questions on flashcards and ended up with responses such as “I really was in the right”, “I was really drunk at the time”, “Give them a short sharp shock”. All familiar to fans of the album. And of course the immortal opener to the album which is heard over the heartbeat leading into “Breathe”, “I’ve been mad for fucking years. Absolutely years. Over the edge… It’s working with bands that does it!”

I love the story behind singer Clare Torry’s amazing performance of The Great Gig in the Sky. The band wanted someone to do a “vocal piece” and Alan Parsons the engineer suggested her. They wanted her to come in on the Saturday but she couldn’t as she was going to see Chuck Berry that night, so she came in the following day. They played her the track and asked her to improvise over the top of it. Torry was unsure what the band were looking for but after three takes they said they were satisfied with the results. She left and in time got her £30 session fee, which included overtime because it had been a Sunday. She had no firm expectation that this would ever come to anything. A few months later  she went into a record shop to browse and spotted the new album by Pink Floyd and discovered that her song was on it! Some years later she sued for joint songwriting credits and received a (very handsome I’m sure) out of court settlement. Did Clare do anything else of note in her singing career? Well she sang the theme tune to seventies hit comedy series Butterflies starring Wendy Craig. “Love is like a butterfly….” Yes, that’s the one!

So there we are. For those of you who don’t like the album, I understand. For those of you who haven’t heard it, I hope I have managed to whet your appetite. Maybe a treat awaits you!

The final word(s) can only go to one man. As the closing heartbeats signal the end of the album we hear the voice of Limerick’s own Gerry O’Driscoll, the doorman at Abbey Road. “There is no dark side in the moon, really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark!” 

YouTube video

Discover more from Slugger O'Toole

Subscribe to get the latest posts sent to your email.

We are reader supported. Donate to keep Slugger lit!

For over 20 years, Slugger has been an independent place for debate and new ideas. We have published over 40,000 posts and over one and a half million comments on the site. Each month we have over 70,000 readers. All this we have accomplished with only volunteers we have never had any paid staff.

Slugger does not receive any funding, and we respect our readers, so we will never run intrusive ads or sponsored posts. Instead, we are reader-supported. Help us keep Slugger independent by becoming a friend of Slugger. While we run a tight ship and no one gets paid to write, we need money to help us cover our costs.

If you like what we do, we are asking you to consider giving a monthly donation of any amount, or you can give a one-off donation. Any amount is appreciated.