Humans are adept at hearing and recognizing sound. The air that carries the sound wave is the medium that encourages our auditory stimulation. This air is all around us, it carries sound waves of different frequencies and brings them to us, to our ears, and we try and understand the sound wave and we judge it for its existence. The particles in the air are disturbed as they carry the sound wave to you, but once their job is done, they go back to a position that is stable, that is definite. This happens with every sound wave that they carry. The sound waves that permeate through the air hamper the particles’ constant pursuit for stability, for rest.
However, none of it matters to you. The air isn’t important to you, and neither is the instability that the particles face in the sound wave’s journey from the source to you. All that matters to you is the wave itself. The wave matters because it carries with it some information. Something for you to process, something for you to understand. The source of the wave can be anything – it could be the wind whistling through the trees; it could be the take-off of an aeroplane; it could be a friend of yours laughing at something funny you did; it could be the voice of someone you love shouting at you in anger; or it could be the record player which is there somewhere in your range of hearing, playing Pink Floyd’s album The Dark Side Of The Moon.
Album art | Credits: Medium
You’re in a city that’s far away from your home. You don’t know the language the natives speak, and you have trouble adapting to the culture. The company you’re working at is a small one; it hasn’t got its feet underneath it yet. Consequently, the job is boring and mundane, and life is monotonous. The travel to your workplace is always the same: one standard path you take twice every day. In the beginning, it was fun to look out the window to see the life of the people around you but there’s only so much that the path had to offer. There’s only so many people you can see, so many sights you can soak in. And once you’ve seen everything that road has to offer, the travel is not a part of the day that you enjoy anymore. It is just another few hours of absolute boredom, another few hours where you’re just reflecting on how pointless things are and how the journey you’re undertaking doesn’t seem to be worth the destination.
You wouldn’t expect life to be this slow, even if your friends were there with you. You’re living with all your friends, you’re travelling together, and you’re working together at the same workplace. But life is still that slow and you’re unable to put your finger on the reasons for it because you don’t know what they are. You were planning to enjoy your freedom and taking your life into your hands but there’s something in the air that you cannot quite discern. The air could be quiet, or it could be carrying with it the noise and the bustling activity of a busy city. And yet there’s a melancholy in the air. A melancholy that lives in the city, that permeates through the tough exterior you maintain. It infiltrates your existence and now lives alongside you, as a part of you. You exist inside your own head, tucked away in a corner that is so dark that you’ve never been there yet. There’s someone inside your head, yes, but it isn’t you. You feel like your brain will explode and disperse in the air, carried away by the pollution-riddled breeze that the city was home to. In this state of eternal despair and existential self-loathing, you sit in a corner of your room in the night, and you decide you want to listen to The Dark Side Of The Moon, not as a way to find some answers, but as a distraction.
However, as you keep listening to it, you realize that you’re not actually listening to some music. There’s something inside it that’s speaking to you. You bob your head, tap your feet, and let your fingers waltz to the melody. You’re responding back. It isn’t a one-sided communication anymore. You’re having a conversation. The first one you’ve had in a long, long time. To an outsider, all they see is some random person enjoying the music that he’s listening to. But to you, it is more.
As an album, The Dark Side Of The Moon is pristine. It is flawless. There’s nothing about it that you cannot relate to. With each track, you’re pulled deeper and deeper into your own brain. From the ominous opening of Speak To Me to the fading heartbeats at the end of Eclipse, the album talks about almost every aspect of the human condition. On the first listen, you’re hooked to Money. You’re tapping your feet and swaying your head. You don’t know the lyrics, but you’re too lost in enjoying the song to even care. This is a welcome change for you, because chances are that the intro to Time gave you slight anxiety and got your heart beating loud enough for you to be able to hear it. It is one of the best pieces of music there is and will be, and if you’ve heard the song, you’d wholeheartedly agree with me.
You’re done with the first listen. Time and Money might be the standouts, but there’s something that you haven’t explored completely yet, there’s something in there that you don’t quite understand. Get some weed, crank up the volume, embrace your loneliness. You’re going for a second listening. In the opening of Speak To Me, there’s something disturbing. There’s mad laughter and a voice in the distance talking about insanity. There’s a clock ticking, and you can hear cash registers. It keeps building and building until the music is punctured by a scream. The album is born. And the album’s very birth began with insanity. How beautiful. You feel the sense of mortality as Time rolls on, and the sense of embracing death when you feel the vocals in The Great Gig in the Sky rip into the fabric of your comfort.
After listening to it a few more times, you realize you counted only 9 tracks. There’s supposed to be 10. Then you pay attention to Any Colour You Like. It was there all this while but the transition to it from Us And Them was so smooth that you didn’t register the change in the tracks until Brain Damage kicked in. Both the sides are seamless tracks and it is hard to identify where a song ends and the next one begins. And it keeps going on. You’re hooked and you keep revisiting Dark Side whenever you can because a piece of your heart is with it now.
There is real poetry in the process of hearing. The particles in the air moved in harmony, in synchronization. In the beginning, the particles were only slightly oscillating. But as the album continued, they started getting more unstable, more excited, and more out of place. The wave that came through these unstable particles hits your eardrum, thereby setting it to vibrate. The ear drum vibrates in accordance to the sound wave, and as it vibrates, the ossicles in the middle ear begin to move. This movement is systematic and elegant and in this process, the membrane window of the cochlea is knocked upon. The cochlea is home to the perilymph and the endolymph fluid, which aid in the body’s understanding of loudness. In the cochlea is the organ of Corti, which is often called as the body’s microphone. Thousands of tiny hair cells are housed here, which help in creating electrical and chemical connection to the auditory nerve. Once a connection is established, the hair cells send impulses to the auditory nerve. The sound is not present in the outer world anymore. What’s playing outside is a different sound wave. The wave that you just heard still exists, but as impulses in your brain. These impulses travel across your brain, coming in contact with brain cells across different areas of the brain and finally end up in your cerebral cortex. Now the sound wave isn’t a bunch of impulses in your brain. It is now a part of you. A memory. You assign it a meaning unconsciously. Your brain now stores Gilmour’s guitar and vocals, Waters’ vocals, Wright’s keyboard proficiency, Mason’s lively drums, and all the little details that were packaged in the album that you do not yet realize.
As you continue hearing, your brain continues processing. You don’t know how hard your brain is working because your consciousness is dedicated to listening, rather than analysing how your brain is working. A little while later, one of the millions of impulses that the brain sends is a statement to your consciousness saying that you’ve never heard anything like this ever before. The moment your conscious existence receives that message is when you’re lost in a different plane. You are stripped of your conscious awareness of your existential burden as you are lost in this plane where synaptic impulses mean more than what they are on the surface. And as the album begins to close, the particles in the air become less unstable, they start oscillating a little lesser. And as the album ends, so does the particles’ instability. They’ve been disturbed a lot, but now they get to rest. But you don’t.
Existential crises can make you hate your brain for just being there. For existing. But when you think about it, The Dark Side Of The Moon would be nothing without your brain. Your brain is what makes sense of the music, fleshes out the meaning that is hidden behind the sound, and helps you feel a wide range of emotions that you did not know were hidden away in some dark corner of your mind. Without your brain, the only thing that this album has done is just change the orientation of the particles and bring about temporary pressure changes. And that is the biggest takeaway from this album. Pink Floyd can make the greatest music in the whole, wide world but for them to make an impact, they need a working brain on the other side of the conversation. It talks about different aspects of human life, all of which are experiences directly tied in to the brain. It talks about different feelings and emotions, something that we rely on our brain for to create and understand.
The Dark Side Of The Moon is a timeless album not only for the music that it encapsulates. It is timeless because it addresses the basic human condition, a condition that has been and will be this way until the end of time, and has not been addressed in that way ever before or after the album’s release. The addressing of the human condition keeps it relevant. The themes that are discussed in this album are essential aspects of existence that everyone knows and carries. While being straightforward with the lyrics, it is still somehow so intricate that different things come to light every time you pay attention to details that you’d not noticed before. And in these details lies the true greatness of this album: the plethora of experiences that people have with this album.
The music we love say so much about who we are. It brings to light our position in the society, in the universe, in our own minds. And that is why our relationship with music is much stronger than our relationship with other forms of art. That is because we see the struggle that went in creating the music we love. We can see the personality of the artists coming through in a much more enjoyable form than we can see with books. We’re just conditioned that way since our childhood, and our affinity towards music grows because there’s music everywhere we go. The music we love reflects the music we need to make sense of our lives. And since The Dark Side Of The Moon can do exactly what we need, it is one of the, if not the, greatest albums of all time.