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Dark Side of the Moon Analysis as on (website unavailable)

Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon

An analysis by Vincent Amendolare

Original Source


Pink Floyd’s 1973 album, Dark Side of the Moon, is arguably one of the best albums in rock history, selling over 35 million copies worldwide. Dark Side of the Moon marks the first time in Pink Floyd’s career in which bassist Roger Waters wrote all of the album’s lyrics. "The concept was originally about the pressures of modern life - travel, money and so on," drummer Nick Mason has said, "but then Roger turned it into a meditation on insanity." This analysis will explore the lyrics of the album and the concepts explored, from the first heartbeat in ‘Speak to Me’ to the final one in ‘Eclipse.’ All interpretations given are my own unless otherwise indicated, though I always try to make my interpretations based on what I believe Waters was trying to express.

Note: Because David Gilmour, Roger Waters and Rick Wright alternate as lead vocalists, I will put the singers name in brackets preceding the lines that they sing. The musical writing credits are given in parentheses next to the song title. For example: TIME (Mason, Waters, Wright, Gilmour)

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day,
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town,
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

Tired of lying in the sunshine, staying home to watch the rain,
You are young and life is long, and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

Also there are many spoken sound clips on the album; those will be given in italics. For example: SPEAK TO ME (Mason)

I’ve been mad for fucking years, absolutely years, been over the edge for yonks, been working me buns off for bands...

These sound clips were the result of “cue cards with generic questions [that] were written up by Roger and given to roadies, anyone at Abbey Road, doormen, and members of ‘Wings’ including Paul and Linda McCartney. Approximately 20 questions were asked along the lines of, ‘Are you afraid of dying?’ ‘When was the last time you were violent and were you in the right?’, and ‘What does the phrase “The Dark Side of the Moon” mean to you?’ The most spontaneous answers to these questions appeared on the album. Paul and Linda didn't make the cut but ‘Wings'’ guitarist Henry McColluch did providing the ‘I don't know I was really drunk at the time’ response to the question regarding violent behavior used at the fade out of Money.” (


I’ve been mad for fucking years, absolutely years, been over the edge for yonks, been working with bands so long, I think crikey...
I’ve always been mad; I know I’ve been mad, like the most of us are. Very hard to explain why you’re mad, even if you’re not mad...

The album begins with the introduction ‘Speak to Me.’ The first sound we hear is a repetitive beating, a heartbeat representing the beginning of life. Next we start to hear various sounds that appear later in the album. First the ticking clocks of ‘Time,’ followed by the quotes listed above, cash registers from ‘Money,’ laughter from ‘Brain Damage’, a plane from ‘On the Run,’ and a woman screaming (Clare Torry’s screaming from ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’) all leading up to its climax that turns to the first chord in ‘Breathe.’ I think it is safe to assume that the first speaker in the song is one of the bands roadies or something similar. Both speakers seem to be responding to the same cue card, seemingly with a question such as “Are you mad?” (Madness of course means insane, not angry in this context, which is more commonly used in Britain where the band is from.) This track is very much a collage of the entire album, foreshadowing what is to come. My interpretation is that the very beginning of the ‘Speak to Me’ coincides with conception, while the end of the track is birth. The heartbeat sound comes in gradually as would an infant’s as it grows larger. Another piece of evidence supporting this theory is the sound clip of a woman screaming at the climax of the song, like a mother giving birth. This would make the song essentially an encapsulation of an infant being in utero. In this context, perhaps the sound clips heard in the song imply that even before we are born, we are exposed to the “pressures of modern life” as our mother is under those same “pressures.” Similarly, the sound clips could also imply predestination, in that even before we are born we are destined to experience all of these pressures. While I do not believe Waters is suggesting actual fate in which every detail of life is pre-planned, he may be suggesting that certain aspects of life are unavoidable, perhaps implying fate in another sense.

The title ‘Speak to Me’ is certainly ambiguous. Presumably the unborn child wants to be spoken to, perhaps wanting advice on this adventure called life it has suddenly found itself on, with all of these inherent pressures. This makes sense with the following song ‘Breathe’ being just that. On the album’s original release, the two songs were listed as one ‘Speak to Me/Breathe.’ This could show ## BREATHE (Waters, Gilmour, Wright)


Breathe, breathe in the air
Don't be afraid to care
Leave but don't leave me
Look around and choose your own ground

For long you live and high you fly
And smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be

Run rabbit run
Dig that hole, forget the sun,
And when at last the work is done
Don't sit down it's time to dig another one

For long you live and high you fly
But only if you ride the tide
And balanced on the biggest wave
You race towards an early grave.

After the climax of ‘Speak to Me’ comes the smooth, airy sound of ‘Breathe.’ The narrator of ‘Breathe’ gives advice about life. It seems to be an older, somewhat jaded individual giving advice to the person just born, possibly a parent. The song begins appropriately with the word ‘Breathe’ just as that is a person’s first action in life. Much can extrapolated from this first line. This line implies the advice that one should take in as much in life as one can, just as one breathes in air. Also however, it emphasizes the importance to simply breathe; not to get so caught up in the rest of life that one forgets to relax. This first line foreshadows the message of not only the song, but the entire album. The first verse continues with further advice. “Don’t be afraid to care,” while a simple message, is a very important one. Many people go through life afraid to get too close to other people because they are afraid they will be hurt. The next line implies to me that the speaker is a parent. Parents often have a hard time with their children growing up and leaving home. All parents want their children to grow up to be successful adults, and live their own lives. In this sense they do want them to leave, however no parent wants to be truly left by their children, and often may selfishly wish their children to remain with them. This line encapsulates this aspect of parenthood. Finally the speaker instructs to “Look around, choose your own ground.” This line clearly tells one to make your own decisions based upon information you observe, not merely what you are told. This is the scientific way to go through life, using logic and reason to make one’s decisions. This line could be viewed as a subtle criticism of religion, which is based on faith rather than reason. There is certainly irony in the idea of telling someone to make your own decisions and not do what you are told. I think it is clear however, that regardless of being told to make decisions that way or not, that it is the reasonable thing to do.

The first chorus sums up life very simply. This could be construed as a pessimistic view of life, saying “This is all that life is; this is what you’ll amount to.” What I get out of this chorus however, is a more positive message. “Yes, this is all there is to life, so make the most of it. Smile, cry, see and touch everything you can. Live your life as fully as you can. Seize each day.” The ultimate outcome of our lives when all is said and done is the effect we have had on the people and environment around us. The next verse discusses the bleakness of work in life, the repeating grind that lasts until we are almost expired. While certainly pessimistic, this is an observation that many people can relate to, working full-time for all the productive years of one’s life. A fellow Pink Floyd fan offered another interesting point. “I think it’s important that Waters chose to say ‘Run, rabbit, run.’ If he’s only referring to people working, why doesn’t Gilmour sing ‘Run, office worker, run?’ (aside from the obvious poetics of the lyric). Could it be suggesting that, even though we think life is tedious, that work is tedious, that such tedium is inherent in nature? That even rabbits must work and work and work, and when they think that the work is over, it’s time to dig another hole? That there’s always something else to do until we die? It’s also interesting that he chose to use ‘rabbit,’ an animal that is, more often than not, thought of as prey…or simply as a nuisance by farmers. Does the fact that Waters is already equating mankind with rabbits, with prey, hint at some underlying ‘dark forebodings’? Are we not only all doomed to repeat the same life, but also doomed to be killed and eaten (by time, presumably)?”

The line "Dig that hole, forget the sun" is important because it introduces one of the main recurring symbols on the album, the sun. The sun is used on the album as a symbol of good and truth. In contrast to the sun, the symbol of the moon is used. The moon is a very important symbol in this album, which will be further explored in 'Brain Damage.' It is a symbol that represents the dark forces in life, more specifically the "pressures" that we all are exposed to, which may even drive one to insanity. This is very much what the album is about as a whole, hence the title. The line is a command to succumb to the moon (specifically the "pressure" of work) and "forget the sun." Then comes the line "And when at last the work is done, don't sit down it's time to dig another one." As one Floyd fan mentions, "I believe that the other hole represents your grave. When you are done working all your life, you might as well dig your own grave at the end of it. Which, once again elaborates on the idea that we must stop and breathe every now and again."

The last chorus begins like the first, but then changes to a metaphorical discussion. This metaphor compares life to the ocean waters coming into shore. It suggests that one will succeed (live long and fly high) if one takes it slow and conservatively (travel with the tide into shore), but if you try to live too much too fast (riding the biggest wave) you will reach an early grave (as you will reach the shore much more quickly). Not only is this a great metaphor, but it also gives a moral. This moral somewhat contrasts with the moral given in the first chorus however, which was to do as much as you possibly can in life. I believe that this means for us to understand that both of these morals are important, and that in life we must strive to find the balance between getting as much we can out of life, and not trying to get so much that we live carelessly and frivolously. This harks back to the very same point suggested by the first line of the song. Another important thing to note is that tides are caused by the moon. This further implies that in order to succeed in life that we need to try to live harmoniously with the pressures, because they will always present. Roger Waters’ friend and Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett left the band after he went insane due to overuse of drugs. “There has been considerable speculation that Barrett may have had pre-existing mental problems that were merely exacerbated by drug use. As Pink Floyd's popularity grew and Syd's consumption of psychotropic drugs (especially LSD) increased, his concert performances became more and more unpredictable, and his general behavior became a hindrance to the success of the band.” ( This event clearly has had a major impact on Roger as it has been recurring theme in his lyrics on many Pink Floyd albums. I think the line about riding the biggest wave is another example, a warning against making the same mistake as Syd.

ON THE RUN (Gilmour, Waters)

[Female announcer, announcing flights at airport, including 'Rome']
Live for today, gone tomorrow, that's me

The first of the “pressures of modern life” delved into on the album is travel in ‘On the Run.’ ‘On the Run’ is clearly an apt title for this theme. Before it got this name it was know to the band as ‘The Travel Sequence.’ This, like several other songs on the album is instrumental and has no lyrics. Through the use of sound clips and effects, the song does take on meaning however.

It is clear that the setting depicted in this song is that of an airport. Sounds of jets can be heard in the background, as well as a female voice announcing flights. Someone’s footsteps can be heard running with heavy breathing, someone clearly trying to make it to their flight before it takes off.

Next we hear a man saying “Live for today, gone tomorrow, that’s me” and laughing maniacally. The line “Live for today, gone tomorrow, that’s me” shows that this man is aligned with the “balanced on the biggest wave” philosophy of living each day like it is your last. We then hear more laughter later in the song, which gets particularly strong right before the sound of a plane crashing, and then the laughter is no more.

Based on the fact that the man is laughing right before the plane crashes and then the laughter stops, I conclude that the man laughing was on the plane, that he knew it was crashing and found it amusing for some reason. One theory as to why the man is laughing is proposed by a fellow fan: "As he is plummeting to his death, he finally realizes the futility (madness) of being a 'rabbit.' How ironic, 'I had to catch this plane. But why? To die an early death?' I suppose it is one of those situations where one can either laugh of cry. Laughing seems to be more appropriate."

Then all sound stops and we hear the running and breathing again. Hearing the footsteps again after the plane crashes implies that the first man we heard running to catch his flight was not the man laughing. Apparently the man missed his flight, but him missing that flight saved his life as he missed the crash. This also serves as a reminder of the role that chance plays in our lives. The future is so uncertain even on the most fundamental levels. Success in life is only determined partially by our own choices, and partially by that which we have no control over.

The exact nature of the situation in the song is ambiguous to be sure, however regardless of that the song certainly does give us a sense of how stressful travel can be. The fast paced (pre-cursor to techno) music gives a sense of great urgency. This along with the images invoked by the sound clips paint us a brilliant picture of the pressure in life that is travel, particularly by plane. I think it was a wise choice to have this song be instrumental. It still has a potent message, whereas lyrics about this subject may have come out sounding contrived.

Another interesting note about this song is that during the tour promoting the release of this album, the band had an almost full size Spitfire plane crash into the stage at the end of ‘On the Run.’

Some additional insight: “In one sense I do hear the song as literal travel, a people traversing the globe like ants; planes dot the sky, cars litter the ground. There’s really no place that we can’t go anymore. But for me, I’ve always thought of the ‘travel’ in this song as being a metaphorical journey, not a literal one: that the planes are a metaphor for us, and that we are traveling through life, growing up, jetting by each other without so much as a wave, not slowing down to notice the scenery outside of the windows. While some of us cruise along just fine, slow and steady, others are spiraling out of control, ultimately crashing too soon (like riding the ‘biggest wave’), a big reminder of our transitory nature.

“And what is it that we are ‘On the Run’ from? In slang terms, being ‘On the Run’ is very much like being ‘On the Lam,’ that is running from something (usually used to imply running from the law.) Is this the same running that we encountered earlier as ‘rabbits’ in ‘Breathe’? To me the implication is that we’re on the run from time, trying to outlive this world, speeding by on that ‘biggest wave,’ trying to outrun our own mortality. Yet such running only leads to an abrupt stop, either in death or the sudden realization that we are mortal, that we are transitory, that time is eternal and will outlive us all. That’s where the crash comes in at the end of the song, I believe. That’s where the alarm clocks ring, waking us up, so to speak, from the tedium of everyday life to the realization of time not just as a concept, but as a real thing, something that will continue running long after we are dead.”

TIME (Mason, Waters, Wright, Gilmour)

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long, and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking
And racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time has gone the song is over, thought I'd something more to say

Beginning with an effects loop of various clocks ticking and chiming, opens the next song ‘Time.’ The next “pressure” that Waters explores is that of time; the theme being that the clock is ticking for all of us. Also added into the mix in the background is the sound of a heartbeat, implying that even our own heartbeat, that which keeps us alive, is also ticking against us, counting down until we die. The lyrics in this song are relatively straightforward, but still powerful and thought provoking.

The beginning section of the song is very repetitive, so repetitive that one loses track of how many times it has played, and the listener is caught off guard by the beginning of the first verse. The first downbeat of the verse even comes in slightly too soon, so the listener suddenly feels like they've fallen behind. This is symbolic of the notion that Waters mentions later in the song of suddenly realizing that your life has already begun.

The first verse is about wasting time. It’s funny how when we are bored we wish time would go by faster, but there are other times when we are enjoying ourselves or in a rush and wish it would go slower. “Life is too short” many say, with so much to touch and see (as we have been instructed in ‘Breathe’) how can we ever complain of boredom? We should spend all of our time pursuing a full life, not wasting a moment of it. But then of course comes the question, what isn’t a waste of time? There is no right or wrong answer. It must be decided for oneself, certainly not “waiting for someone or something to show you the way.”

The first one continues the theme of the first verse. Roger discusses how when you are young and death isn’t even on the horizon, you seem to have all the time in the world. Roger stated in an interview "The year that we made that record was the year that I had a sudden revelation personally - which was that this was it. I had the strangest feeling growing up - and I know a lot of people share this - that childhood and adolescence and one's early adult life are preparing for something that's going to happen later. I suddenly thought at 29, Hang on, it's happening, it has been right from the beginning, and there isn't suddenly a line when the training stops and life starts. 'No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.”

The “starting gun” is another allusion to life as a race, to run, like “Run, rabbit, run” and even the title of “On the Run.” The song continues after the realization that one has “missed the starting gun” and fallen behind. “And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking” This line not only shows the futility of trying to outrun time, but also does so in describing the sun, which is a measure of time itself. Then after failing to catch up with the sun, it rises again in the east. The sun is relatively the same, as a day to the sun is nothing compared to its lifetime (on the order of billions of years), whereas lost day to us is (relatively of course) more significant. At the same time however, the sun is aging and becoming “closer to death” (although it may be billions of years away).

Every day we become “one day closer to death.” This, like the first chorus in ‘Breathe’ is a seemingly negative outlook on life. It is of course a fact, and depends on how it is interpreted. If one chooses to they may become depressed by the fact that each day brings them a step closer to their demise, but like in first chorus of ‘Breathe’ I believe Roger is implying that we need to make the most of the time we have, not “kick around” sulking about it; our time is too precious.

The last chorus continues this theme, describing unfinished actions, things that were meant to get back to but never will for lack of time. Then Roger complains that the song itself is over, and he thought he “had something more to say.” This echoes the sentiment that is commonly felt at the end of one’s life, that maybe more should have been done. One point I'd like to make is that the line 'Every year is getting shorter,' is true in multiple ways. What Waters is really saying, is that as we grow older life seems to go by faster and each subsequent year seems shorter. In an astronomical sense however, every year is getting shorter, if only by a ten thousandth of a second or so. This is based on the Earth's orbit slowly spiraling into the sun.

BREATHE (Reprise) (Waters, Gilmour, Wright)

Home, home again
I like to be here when I can
When I come home cold and tired
It's good to warm my bones beside the fire

Far away across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spells.

Waters: "The decision to place ‘Breathe’ (Reprise) after ‘Time’ arose during the process of working the piece up live before we started recording." This song was referred to as ‘Home Again’ during the recordings; it was simply the third verse of ‘Breathe’, detached for structural/emotional reasons.

This song seems to be descriptive of late life, the narrator coming home “cold and tired” and resting by the fire. In contrast to the message in the first chorus of ‘Breathe’ which was to touch, see and do everything you can in life, this verse seems to be more in tune with the “ride the tide” philosophy of taking it easy, enjoying the simple pleasure of just being home. Most people tend to be more towards the first philosophy earlier in life, and then tend towards the second later, which is illustrated in this song.

It makes sense to place this song after ‘Time’ on the album, which concerns the encroaching of old age. The chorus of this song transitions to the topic of death, the next “pressure” explored in ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’. “The tolling of the iron bells” refers to funeral bells, an allusion to the poem by John Donne, “For whom the Bell Tolls.” The bells are heard “far away across the fields” by the “faithful” who fall to their knees in prayer. Hearing the bells far away implies that these people are receiving hints at death throughout their life, perhaps people they know dying, reminding them of their own mortality. Out of this fear of death the people look to religion for comfort, being soothed by the “softly spoken magic spells.” This phrase seems to be a mockery of religion, implying that exists only to help people “cope with the harsh realities described in ‘Time’ and ‘Breathe’” as one Floyd fan put. Many people believe, and Waters seems to agree, that religion came into existence to explain that which couldn’t be explained at the time, to ease people’s fear of it. This is quite a controversial issue of course, upon which much could be written, so let’s move on.


And I am not frightened of dying, any time will do I don’t mind. Why should I be frightened of dying? There’s no reason for it, you’ve gotta go sometime.
I never said I was frightened of dying.

The themes of old age and religion lead us into the next song on the album, ‘The Great Gig in the Sky.” This next “pressure” explored is death. Waters was quoted, "Are you afraid of dying? The fear of death is a major part of many lives, and as the record was at least partially about that, that question was asked, but not specifically to fit into this song.” This song was initially called “The Mortality Sequence,” and has no lyrics, but with vocals by Clare Torry. ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’ is also the last song on the first side of the LP, which some believe furthers the representation of death.

It is interesting that the sound clips chosen for the song both state that they are not frightened of dying. This is in line with what seems to be the message of the song. The title also ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’ seems to be a positive portrayal of death. The name certainly has religious undertones, suggesting an afterlife in heaven. This may imply that the end of ‘Breathe’ (Reprise) is not a criticism of people’s tendency to use religion to seek comfort from the fear of death. Conversely, the title could also be interpreted sarcastically, as a further mockery of religion. The idea of a ‘Great Gig in the Sky’ does seem to trivialize heaven, which most religious people take too seriously to call ‘The Great Gig in the Sky.’

The music of the song respresents the spectrum of emotions associated with death. It is both somber and uplifting and even pained at times. The vocals were improvised by Clare Torry with some guidance from the band. One fan writes, "The words in the piece are what we say; the vocals are what we feel. I think the song is about how we are extremely frightened and saddened by death and even the thought/concept of death, but cannot admit it." This is a very interesting interpretation. This highlights more generally the contrast between what we say and what we truly feel; people's tendency to keep their true feelings buried, hiding behind an emotional wall.

MONEY (Waters)

Money, get away
Get a good job with more pay and you're O.K
Money it's a gas
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash
New car, caviar, four star daydream,
Think I'll buy me a football team.

Money get back
I'm all right Jack keep your hands off of my stack.
Money it's a hit
But don't give me that do goody good bullshit
I'm in the hi-fidelity first class traveling set
And I think I need a Lear jet.

Money it's a crime
Share it fairly but don't take a slice of my pie
Money so they say
Is the root of all evil today
But if you ask for a rise it's no surprise that they're giving none away

[Laughing] I was in the right!
Yes, absolutely in the right!
I certainly was in the right!
I was definitely in the right. That geezer was cruising for a bruising!
Why does anyone do anything?
I don’t know, I was really drunk at the time!
I was just telling him, he couldn’t get into number two. He was asking why he wasn’t coming up on freely, after I was yelling and screaming and telling him why he wasn’t coming up on freely. It came as a heavy blow, but we sorted the matter out.

The next “pressure” explored on the album is ‘Money.’ The song opens the next side of the LP with the sound of cash registers chiming and opening, similar to the clock introduction to ‘Time.’ Most of the song is written in 7/4 time which is quite rare; this was a result of Waters’ writing the main riff of the song first.

I believe the lyrics of this song are quite straightforward and do not require much explanation. While the song ‘Money’ is clearly narrated from the point of view of someone who greatly desired money and material possessions, I am confident that the song is satirical in nature and not truly encouraging such behavior. In other songs and interviews Waters has shown his disenchantment with the cutthroat nature of the capitalist system. Waters has said “[I am] sure that the free market isn't the whole answer. My hope is that mankind will evolve into a more cooperative and less competitive beast as the millennia pass. If he doesn't ...disappearing in a puff of smoke.” The technique of using satire to show what not to do or believe is a technique Waters also used on “The Wall” in a way, where the main character Pink becomes a fascist neo-Nazi. Whether having one song that is sarcastic in the middle of “Dark Side of the Moon” seems out of place or not is certainly debatable however.

Another Floyd fan writes, "With the whole theme of life and death in the album, I think it shows the sarcastic, up beat side of life. Sarcasm is the humorous part of life - perhaps the song dictates a discussion amongst friends of what they would do with all the money they wanted, then the final conclusion of 'Oh well, despite the fact most of society dispises money, and what it brings, no one is willing to hand it over to those who need it.' The mood of the song lends to the fact that even for people in the worst situation, rich or poor, there are times when you have to let go and be upbeat and just act like the world is at your fingertips - you have no cares or worries except the moment in which you are. The morning is when you can go back to reality, but for one night, you can totally release. People need this in order to not completely hate their own lives. Focusing on the bad part of life every single second would drive a person crazy. The purpose of life is to enjoy what little time we have, and appreciate all the good things - whether it is something materialistic like a jet, or the good times and memories you can have with friends, you have a light in the darkness. In relation to the rest of the album, you have to maintain that balance between work and fun, and Money provides this for the album. The sound clip at the end supports this; the man is laughing as he remenisses on a part of his life - good memories and good times with friends are what keeps us going."

US AND THEM (Waters, Wright)

Us, and them
And after all we're only ordinary men
Me, and you
God only knows it's not what we would choose to do

Forward he cried from the rear
and the front rank died.
And the General sat, and the lines on the map
moved from side to side

Black and blue
And who knows which is which and who is who
Up and Down
And in the end it's only round and round and round

Haven't you heard it's a battle of words
the poster bearer cried.
Listen son, said the man with the gun,
There's room for you inside

I mean, they’re not gonna kill ya, so if you give ’em a quick short, sharp, shock, they won’t do it again. Dig it? I mean he got off lightly, ’cos I would’ve given him a thrashing, I only hit him once. It was only a difference of opinion, but really...I mean good manners don’t cost nothing do they, eh?

Down and Out
It can't be helped but there's a lot of it about
With, without
And who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about

Out of the way, it's a busy day
I've got things on my mind
For want of the price of tea and a slice
The old man died

The sound clips at the end of ‘Money’ segue into the next song ‘Us and Them,’ which deals with the “pressure” of violence. The sound clips heard are in response to the cue card "When was the last time you were violent and were you in the right?” Not surprisingly, all of the people who speak believe that [they did indeed think that] they were in the right (except the man who couldn’t remember because he was drunk). This is a good illustration of humans being biased towards believing that they are right.

This song was originally called “The Violence Sequence.” Waters said "Rick wrote the chord sequence for this and I used it as a vehicle. I can't remember when I wrote the top line and the lyric, but it was certainly during the making of “Dark Side Of The Moon” because it seems that the whole idea, the political idea of humanism and whether it could or should have any effect on any of us, that's what the record is about really - conflict, our failure to connect with one another.”

The phrase “Us and Them” refers to the human tendency to partition themselves. This applies to each situation in the song, whether “them” refers to one’s enemies in war, another race of people, or the homeless beggars. Waters illustrates how destructive this behavior can be. This behavior stems from the natural human inclination to interact with people that have things in common with them, whether it is a common interest, belief, or heritage. Where it goes wrong is when people begin to consider those who are different from them to be inferior, or are afraid of them because they do not know them. This is the root of the destructive behavior Waters depicts in this song.

According to Waters "the first verse [and chorus] is about going to war, how in the front line we don't get much chance to communicate with one another, because someone else has decided that we shouldn't.” Waters was disillusioned by the fact that the decision to go to war is not made by those who are really fighting, who don’t necessarily believe that the fighting is justified. “God only knows it's not what we would choose to do.” Instead, decisions made that affect the lives of hundreds of men are made by generals sitting down comfortably as “the lines on the map move from side to side.”

Eric Waters, Roger’s father, died when Roger was 5 months old during World War II, at the battle of Anzio. This event greatly impacted Waters’ life. This event, like the troubles of his friend Syd, comes up in many of Waters lyrics including this song. The first chorus describing the death of the front rank describes how Waters father died. This event is given in further detail in the song “When the Tigers Broke Free Part 1” from “The Wall” movie.


It was just before dawn one miserable
Morning in black 'forty four.
When the forward commander was told to sit tight
When he asked that his men be withdrawn.
And the Generals gave thanks as the other ranks
Held back the enemy tanks for a while.
And the Anzio bridgehead was held for the price
Of a few hundred ordinary lives.

Waters stated “the second verse [and chorus] is about civil liberties, racism and color prejudice.” The second verse starts with the line “Black and Blue.” This is interesting because in this racial context one might expect the line to be “Black and White” (rhyming aside). Listing “blue” as a skin color acts as a mockery of racism, indicating how ridiculous the concept is. “Black and Blue” also is a common term for a bruise or contusion, which serves as an image of violence as well in the song. The rest of the verse carries on expressing the futility and confusing nature of racism.

The last verse expresses Waters’ view that possession is the root of violence. “The last [chorus] is about passing a tramp in the street and not helping." said Waters. This reiterates Waters views on greed that were expressed in ‘Money.’ Passed over by people too busy to help him, the old tramp died, not having enough money for food.

ANY COLOUR YOU LIKE (Gilmour, Mason, Wright)

The next song on the album is ‘Any Colour You Like’ an instrumental track with keyboard and guitar solos. This song has no lyrics nor does it have any sound clips, making it very difficult to interpret.

One interpretation is that the song encapsulates the transition into madness, as it precedes ‘Brain Damage,’ which is about madness. Another theory is that the song is about drugs, as it is considered a “psychedelic” song. Drugs certainly could qualify as a “pressure” making this song fit in with the rest of the album. Both of these interpretations may also be true in conjunction, as drugs were indeed what led Syd Barrett into madness, at least partially.

David Gilmour on Pink Floyd’s drug reputation: "Roger's and Nick's largest indulgence was alcohol, mine and Rick's might have involved the occasional reefer. But at that time we were nothing like our image. I'm not sure Roger's ever taken LSD - it certainly wasn't on our menu after Syd left [April, 1968]. We've never got away from that reputation, though, not to this day."

According to the Pink Floyd encyclopedia, “Any Colour You Like - You are what you are. The song title is from a catch phrase used by former Pink Floyd Road Manager, Chris Adamson. When asked for a guitar, Adamson would respond "Any colour you like, they're all blue." He may have picked this up from local street traders in Cambridge. This was based on a statement by automobile manufacturer Henry Ford in the 1920's who declared that you could have a Ford in any color you liked, as long as it was black.”

The proposition of ‘Any Colour You Like’ is interesting because it appears to be a choice, but is really an illusion as there is only one option. “You are what you are” is hinted as the theme of this song in the encyclopedia entry. This alludes to the fact that it was not Syd’s choices that led him to become what he became, it was pre-determined (genetic).

This song is certainly open to much interpretation, which was clearly intentional by Waters. My interpretation is that the song is certainly a depiction of Syd’s fall to madness, which is apparently caused a choice to use drugs but truly caused by nothing but fate. (I do not really suggest the existence of fate here, Roger has stated that he believes in free will, as do I; genetics do not prove the existence of fate.) This alludes to the argument made in ‘Speak to Me’ that we are predestined to experience these “pressures” in life.


The lunatic is on the grass.
The lunatic is on the grass.
Remembering games, and daisy chains and laughs,
Got to keep the loonies on the path.

The lunatic is in the hall.
The lunatics are in my hall.
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor,
And every day the paper boy brings more.

And if the dam breaks open many years too soon,
And if there is no room upon the hill,
And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too,
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

The lunatic is in my head.
The lunatic is in my head.
You raise the blade, you make the change,
You rearrange me 'till I'm sane.

You lock the door,
And throw away the key,
There's someone in my head but it's not me.

And if the cloud bursts thunder in your ear,
You shout and no one seems to hear,
And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes,
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

I can't think of anything to say except...
I think it's marvelous!

The next song on the record is ‘Brain Damage’ which is about madness, the result of all the “pressures” we have been exposed to throughout the whole album. Waters: "That was my song; I wrote that at home.” Waters’ personal connection with this song is possibly the reason he chose to sing it instead of Gilmour.

“The grass [as in 'the lunatic is on the grass'] was always the square in between the River Cam and Kings College chapel. I don't know why, but when I was young that was always the piece of grass, more than any other piece of grass, that I felt I was constrained to 'keep off '. I don't know why, but the song still makes me think of that piece of grass. The lunatic was Syd, really. He was obviously in my mind.” The first verse clearly depicts childhood. The desire to keep “the loonies on the path” represents trying to maintain order, staying sane. An act as simple as staying on the path in childhood foreshadows the greater issue of conforming to society later in life. Waters is also attacking inane authority with rules for the sake of having rules, things as arbitrary as not walking on the grass.

The next verse places the “lunatics” as faces in a newspaper. This seems to imply that the people in the newspaper, famous people, politicians, etc., are all lunatics. One pattern of insanity can be that thinking everyone else around them is insane rather than themselves, which may be what Waters is referring to here. Piling up over time, things get worse as “every day the paper boy brings more.”

Another interpretation is that the people held captive by the newspapers aren’t the people in them, but the people reading them. Many people based their lives on the media and pop culture, caring more about celebrity gossip than about issues that may really concern them. Perhaps Waters is saying that those who behave this way and live vicariously through celebrities are insane as well.

“The dam break[ing] open many years to soon,” “no room upon the hill,” “head explod[ing] with dark forebodings” are all representations of falling into madness. The term “dark forebodings” reminds of the very pessimism that is apparent throughout the album. As I have expressed, I consider these displays of pessimism to show the flaws of this line of thought. This pessimism becomes “dark forebodings” which can pile up to drive a man to madness.

Then comes the line that holds the title of the album, “I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.” What is the dark side of the moon? More importantly, what does Waters use it to represent? as it is important enough to name the entire album after. Let us first explore the literal meaning of the term.

The moon revolves around the Earth at the exact same speed at which it rotates, due to a phenomenon having to do with the uneven weight distribution of the moon itself. Because of this, on Earth, we only can ever see one side of the moon. The other side of the moon is sometimes referred to as the dark side of the moon, as it is never visible to us. There is much folklore and mythology about the mysterious ‘dark side of the moon.’ In actuality the other side of the moon is lit up just as much as the side we see. The phase of the moon depends on its position relative to the Earth and the sun.

The term “lunatic” evolved from the Latin word luna for moon, due to the ancient belief that insanity varied with or was caused by the phase of the moon. No such correlation has been scientifically proven however. This does establish a connection between the moon and madness though, helping us to understand the symbolism of the song.

Waters is essentially stating, if you go mad then “I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.” The dark side of the moon is something that we never see, but is always there, just on the opposite side. Waters seems to be relating this to madness, implying that it is always there, but invisible, waiting to be exposed.

Waters elaborates further: "The line 'I'll see you on the dark side of the moon' is me speaking to the listener, saying, I know you have these bad feelings and impulses, because I do too, and one of the ways I can make contact with you is to share the fact that I feel bad sometimes." The ‘dark side of the moon’ can be considered the dark side of ourselves; the side that we try to hide from those around us. Waters is coming out and saying that we all have that side, but we need to keep it in check, or it will take control of us; driving us to madness.

In the next verse the narrator gives a detached description of a lobotomy being performed on them, in order to regain their sanity, to get the “lunatic” out of their head. By performing the operation they “lock the door and throw away the key” sealing off the lunatic and regaining sanity.

I’ve received some more insight from a Pink Floyd fan, “It’s definitely a reference to an earlier time when the psychology of the mind wasn’t understood as well as it is today, when doctors believed that mental disorders could easily be fixed, and were the result of just some malfunctioning piece of brain matter. While this might be true in some cases, we now know that there are a multitude of causes behind mental disorders, from an imbalance in neurological chemicals to all the ‘pressures’ that Waters has spent an album detailing.

“I think it’s also worth noting that a lobotomy, while seemingly taking away the ‘lunatic’ aspects of a person, also pretty much obliterates that person’s individuality, their personality. It makes them little more than a zombie. Once again, Waters seems to be addressing this overbearing social authority that dictates what is and isn’t normal. ‘You men, go fight this war. You children, stay off the grass. You there, you aren’t like me, therefore I will cut out part of your brain.’”

The second chorus is similar to the first. “Cloud burst[ing] thunder in your ear” and “shout[ing] but no one seems to hear” are again examples of insanity. The line about “the band you’re in playing different tunes” clearly applies to Syd, as Pink Floyd moved on to new material after he left, which was significantly different in style as well. Another fan points out, "One of the things Syd was known to do during his descent into madness, which would piss the band off to no end, was play the wrong song. For example, at one concert in April of 1967, I believe, the band started playing "Careful with that Axe, Eugene", with all the appropriate keyboard, bass, and drum parts. Syd, possibly as a result of the acid he was taking, started the guitar part of "Interstellar Overdrive." He did "play different tunes" from the rest of the band at several other concerts until he was kicked out."

ECLIPSE (Waters)

 All that you touch
 And all that you see
 All that you taste
 All you feel
 And all that you love
 And all that you hate
 All you distrust
 All you save
 And all that you give
 And all that you deal
 And all that you buy
 Beg, borrow or steal
 And all you create
 And all you destroy
 And all that you do
 And all that you say
 And all that you eat
 And everyone you meet
 And all that you slight
 And everyone you fight
 And all that is now
 And all that is gone
 And all that's to come
 And everything under the sun is in tune
 But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

 There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact it’s all dark.

Waters: "This was interesting because it was something that I added after we'd gone on the road. It felt as if the piece needed an ending. It's just a run-down with a little bit of philosophizing, though there's something about its naive quality that I still find appealing. In a strange way it re-attaches me to my adolescence, the dreams of youth. The lyric points back to what I was attempting to say at the beginning. It's a recitation of the ideas that preceded it saying, ‘there you are, that's all there is to it’. What you experience is what it is. The rather depressing ending, 'And everything under the sun is in tune/but the sun is eclipsed by the moon', is the idea that we all have the potential to be in harmony with whatever it is, to lead happy, meaningful and right lives."

As Waters mentioned, this song harks back to one of the first messages in ‘Breathe.’ “All you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be.” The real significance in this song comes in the last two lines, summing up the entire album into one profound message. Like Waters said everything our lives can work together in harmony; this is true only if we keep the “pressures” of life in check. We must constantly deal with these “pressures”, and fight the urge to let them depress us or take a hold of us. Otherwise madness will take over our lives, and the sun will be “eclipsed by the moon.” Solar eclipses only occur when the sun, moon and Earth are in perfect alignment, which is quite rare. This is a metaphor for the “pressures” in life causing madness, as in rare situations these “pressures” can cause a person to snap into madness.

Another interesting observation I received, “It’s also interesting to note yet another appearance of ‘the sun.’ In ‘Breathe,’ the rabbit was trying to escape it; in ‘Time,’ we were running and running to catch up with the sun; and now, in ‘Eclipse,’ the sun is being eclipsed by the moon. I think the o verarching effect is that throughout the album the sun has been presented as this constant, this great power that is unchanged and unchangeable, very much like God, and perhaps even a metaphor for God. Yet even that great power, that thing we try to hide from, that thing we try to run and catch up with, that thing that is relatively immortal, can be completely obliterated from sight, even if for a moment. While I totally agree with your interpretation of the eclipse as meaning insanity, I think there is another interpretation that suggests that we should take nothing for granted, that even the sun, a thing that is one of the most powerful and important things in our galaxy (at least for life on this Earth), can be blotted out and taken away from us in an instant by something as small and seemingly dead and insignificant as the moon. In a sense, everything, all of life, all of the universe, time, etc. is fleeting; here for the moment and gone in the next. While this might be seen as a pessimistic view, I think it plays back into that original moral of living life to the fullest while you still can, because it can all be taken away in the next breath.”

The last sound clip on the album was originally “There is no dark side of the moon really. As a matter of fact it's all dark... and the thing that makes it look alight is the sun.” The last part of the line was cut because it was considered anticlimactic, although it was more of an accurate statement.

The album closes the same way it opens in ‘Speak to Me’, with the heartbeat. This time the heart beats until it stops, signifying death, just as the initial heartbeats symbolized conception. This album is certainly about life, and it is appropriate to have these heartbeat sequences, adding even more meaning to the album. This symmetry technique of starting and ending an album in the same way was a technique Waters used on several albums, intrigued by the idea of making cyclic albums made to be listened to repeatedly. As one fan writes, "The heartbeat at the beginning represents the start of life. The heartbeat at the end represents death. But when you combine the two in the cyclic technique Waters created, you get the idea that life goes on after one is dead. Life repeats it’s self in another’s body with the same pressures that the person before experienced. It is all cyclic with the sun, time, life and death, and the

I particularly like the point that the major symbols that Water used on this album, the heartbeat, the sun, the moon, and the tides, are all cyclic. The choice to use these symbols was a major part of the album. Not only are they all cyclic, but they are all stellar in proportions. I think this implies to the listener that the symbols represent something of great importance, and maybe even make the listener feel small in comparison. The cyclic nature of these bodies is also complex and intertwined. The moon is rotating and revolving around the Earth which is rotating and revolving around the sun. We have cycles within cycles within cycles. It seems clear that these cyclic symbols correspond to the fact that lives keep playing out, over and over, each with the same major themes explored in the album. The fact that these themes are so general and apply to all life, is what truly makes this album, in my opinion, timeless.

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