One of the most controversial occurrences in music history is the remarkably accurate alignment between the award winning Pink Floyd album “Dark Side of the Moon” (1973) and the possibly even more celebrated 1939 film “Wizard of Oz”. While this isn’t a purely vinyl topic, the fact that Floyd’s “Dark Side” was such a record breaking album, maintaining a position on Billboard’s Weekly Top 200 list for a staggering 736 weeks, it’s certainly a topic that any Vinyl Head should at least be familiar with. So, as a discussion with such widespread popularity, combined with the fact that it’s an album found on almost any “top XX albums of all times” list, I hereby grant this subject Vinyl Haven approval.
For those who’ve not seen Dark Side of the Rainbow, I recommend following this link to watch for yourself before continuing. There will be spoilers below.
Note: The sync only works the first time the album is played and ends at the heartbeat when they find the Tin Man. There’s no need to watch further.
…and back to our regularly scheduled program.
As many of you may already know, the members of Pink Floyd have maintained that the peculiar and seemingly intentional alignments between these two masterpieces are nothing more than a serendipitous coincidence. Roger Waters and David Gilmore have both stated in a 2002 Pink Floyd MTV special, that there were no means of reproducing the film in the studio at the time they recorded the album.
This at first seems like a legitimate assertion, seeing as how 1973 technology, with its lack of YouTube, Netflix, or even VHS didn’t allow for the readily convenient viewing of videos found today, or even a few years after their recording. But are we do believe that a band who had already put out nine previous records, including multiple movie soundtracks, didn’t have the means to sync audio to video in a recording studio? Seems a bit daft to me. Anyone who knows Floyd’s history would know that by this point in their career, they not only had the means, but had expressed plenty of interest in pairing their music with cinematic features.
Then there’s the 2003 interview with Alan Parsons, the album’s Grammy nominated audio engineer, in which he reflected:
“It was an American radio guy who pointed it out to me. It’s such a non-starter, a complete load of eyewash. I tried it for the first time about two years ago. One of my fiancée’s kids had a copy of the video, and I thought I had to see what it was all about. I was very disappointed. The only thing I noticed was that the line “balanced on the biggest wave” came up when Dorothy was kind of tightrope walking along a fence.”
I find this statement exceedingly mind-blowing. Not necessarily because he was unimpressed, but because the only thing he claimed to notice what the “balanced on the biggest wave” segment, when it’s rather minor in comparison to the more noticeable and dramatic synchronicities that are present. Take for instance the fact that “The Great Gig in The Sky” starts at the very beginning of the twister scene, and then ends when the house lands in OZ. Not only is the track conveniently named for such a sequence, but the song crescendos and decrescendos perfectly to match the intensity of the footage.
I’m also find it amazing that he didn’t notice rather obvious moments such as “Brain Damage” playing during the Scarecrow’s song and dance, or even the album’s heartbeat outro while Dorothy is beating on the Tin Man’s hollow chest. This level of denial seems like such an abrupt attempt to underplay an idea that it feels insincere.
In the end, as much as the musicians and other individuals responsible for the album’s creation try to to justify that the alignments are nothing more than convenient coincidences, I strongly have my doubts. The fact that the band was already quite familiar with the process, having created soundtracks for films prior to 1973, along with the ample number of conjunctions between the album and the film, has me convinced that at least one person involved in the creative process of this classic LP made a conscious effort to create the synchronization between the two. Waters perhaps? Maybe Gilmore? The point is, not every artist feels the need to take credit for their genius. Ever heard of Banksy?
Please feel free to add your two cents in the comments below.