Good Music Notes is back.

Hey, reader or two. 🙂

After an extended dormancy, I have decided I need to give my inner music lover another chance to speak. Pop music has undergone a massive transformation in the past seven years, and yours truly is starting to feel a bit in the dust. Staying engaged with music past and present is my directive. Join me.

One logical direction that I will pursue is familiarizing myself with the so-called greatest albums of all time. Because music is nothing if not logical. So today I will be offering my take on the #1 album of all time per the site I hope to get a little further down the list in the future. But, one day at a time.

Album: The Dark Side of the Moon   Artist: Pink Floyd   Released 1973

This legendary record was released in the year of my birth. Which means we’re both… still pretty current-sounding!

I had never listened to this album before today. I think I’ve heard “Money” a handful of times, presumably because it’s the closest thing to a regular, catchy rock song one will find in the ten-track listing. I’ve rather studiously avoided the album because music only became real to me in 1983. Anything prior is old and brittle. Or so I imagined.

I tried my hardest not to approach my first Floyd listening party with any predispositions. This is just a collection of songs put together by some British band that will always live in the shadow of the Beatles and Zeppelin, no matter how many bazillion copies it sells or how many lists it tops. Right? I was prepared for it to be dated, or boring, or mediocre.

No such luck. You don’t get everyone to kiss your album’s butt for absolutely no reason. The album exudes an air of confident epic-ness. Brilliant, vibrant sound effects punctuate free-form song structures, and the lyrics, where they exist, simply encapsulate the Big Themes in life without coming off as pompous or forced.

Side One (or what I imagine was Side One when this was an actual LP–I purposely did no extra research, FYI, so as not to bias my reactions) paints a stark picture of the cycle of life, and Side Two covers our complex and dark dealings with our fellow humans and how those turn back on ourselves. There’s no fluff, yet there’s wide open spaces of sound where the album breathes and emotes in the form of guitar solos, sax solos–no, not the cheesy 80s kind–and plaintive soul vocalizations. The songs bleed easily into each other and are yet each singularly evocative.

Given the landmark nature of DSOTM, it would be very easy for the many riffs on its conceptual structure over the years to have bled it dry for newbies like me who have only heard the derivatives and not the source material. It’s a real testament to the strength of this record that it doesn’t sound cliche, dated, or passé.

Random observations:

  • David Gilmour reminds me of Don Henley. It’s a minor disappointment that his casual, almost offhanded vocal delivery is paired with such pristine instrumental and production craftsmanship.
  • “Us and Them,” in its structure, melody, and lyrics, reminds me strongly of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” which was released two years earlier.
  • Gilmour’s vocals, the frequent vocal and instrumental swells prior to the start of their choruses, and the extreme gravity of their subject matter would seem to make Pink Floyd ripe for parody. Yet, I’m not aware of a single Weird Al version of any part of their catalog. Go figure.

My humble rating: 9.0/10.