Dark Web

The other day, apropos of something, Prof Paul asked Mouthsounds Steph and I

How well 1-10 do you guys know Dark Side of the Moon? I’m about 12.

That's not a moon – that's a space station
Er, it’s this one, right?

[Read on – it’s not about conflict, greed, the passage of time, and mental illness. Promise!]

I reckoned I came in at about a 7.

And that’s one of the things about having too much music, and having to have it digitised to save space. One forgets that one owns Dark Side of the Moon. I’m listening to it as I blog, and I guess I can understand how that happens. It’s not very song-based song-writing.

‘What rhymes with “soon”?’

Says he as Money comes on, natch. But one can see why the stereotype of the Floyd fan is of someone stoned out their gourd in a planetarium, or holed up in their bedroom, plugged into headphones. Pink Floyd are about the sounds, rather than the songs. You’ve got to concentrate.

At least, I think so. It’s hard to generalize, because Pink Floyd are at least three bands. Syd Barrett-era, Roger Waters-era, and after. Collectively, they’re big enough to have – quite unplanned – featured in a couple of quite large-scaled entertainments I’ve experienced.

You call this rock'n'roll?!
‘I’ll do anything for love, but I won’t listen to Pink Floyd.’

When I saw Tom Stoppard’s Rock’n’Roll (above) on Broadway during its 2007-08 run, it felt like a minor work, coming somewhat in the wake of Arcadia and The Invention of Love. I mean, an unseen Syd Barrett was a kinda major character. I retrospect, that feeling was probably a failing on my part – well, durr.

Arcadia and The Invention of Love could have been specifically engineered to appeal to a middle-class white-boy from Edinburgh who loved Wilde and camouflaged his lawyerliness in pretensions to artiness and philosophy. Even though that part of me had loved Kundera, the works in Stoppard’s oeuvre concerned with artistic dissent against the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia were an empathetic step to far for that Ricky.

Mike Pence gets read the Riot Act
‘Whaddya mean?! Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth is clearly superior to The Real Thing, asshole!’

Yeah, we just watched The Big Short. Ah, those were the days. 😳😏 Still they were the days of Stoppard, Ralph Lauren and Václav Havel hanging out watching The Plastic People of The Universe at the Bowery Ballroom. [OK, that wasn’t me at that show.]

Then, quite few years later, Mrs Stroke Bloke and I went to see the… apotheosis…? of Roger Waters-era Floyd brought back to life, when he performed The Wall at the new Yankee Stadium. That opened with a fighter plane roaring over the outfield on a wire before crashing into the stage.

Babe Ruth signals his next shot at Yankee Stadium
“Look, mummy! An airyplane!”

It was all terribly dated, really.

I mean, a story of an imaginary fascist dictator set inside an impossibly gauche building in New York City? Come on.

But, as The Dark Side of The Moon approaches its climax and Brain Damage slides into Eclipse, maybe the dinosaur that was Pink Floyd isn’t dead yet. The last words on Eclipse – the song The Prof was really thinking about – and the whole album approach.

9 March 2016 – 'I predict nine-ten more months of shit, kid.'
“Everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.”

Ian Wiki reports, via Karl Dallas’s Pink Floyd: Bricks in the Wall, that Roger Waters didn’t mean those words as a riddle:

The album uses the sun and the moon as symbols – the light and the dark…. The song addresses the listener and says that if you, the listener, are affected by that force, and if that force is a worry to you, well I feel exactly the same too.

Well, that is slightly enigmatic. But the way I choose to hear it is, if things are a bit dark, at least we’ve got each other for company. Let’s share a few things.

Syd Barrett
“Fairy-tales are nice.”
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10 thoughts on “Dark Web

  1. I sometimes think your comment section exists for me to be able to bang out 700 words on the adjacency between late miles davis and schoenberg and their similarity with the debates about 1874 trade policy in an emerging american west. So I will restrain myself from waxing too poetic about DSOTM.

    But at dinner last night I was suggesting that there aren’t many albums I’ve listened to in their entirety more than 200 times. 200 doesn’t seem like a lot but if you listen to an album once a month it would take you more than 16 years. So the 200+ club has to include things which were on heavy rotation at one point in your life. Listen to an album every other day for a year and you almost get there.

    And it was easier when you actually had to buy music piecemeal and do something physical to hear it.

    The 200+ club for me contains quite a bit, but DSOTM is definitely in there (as, btw, is Animals, but not the Wall, WYWH and The Final Cut; and definitely not the pre-waters era stuff. And I take objection to your characterization of post-waters floyd as a “band” who made “music”). And as I listened to it yesterday morning after I woke up early and didn’t want to get out of bed, I realized why. It captures such a lovely arc and sounds so … well … good. And re-visiting Animals this morning at the gym I laughed as I heard sounds which unbeknownst to me have come up all over nerd bait’s stuff. Especially that dragged triplet sound I love so much.

    The immediate thing which made me think of eclipse was the excellent PBS documentary “SoundBreaking” whose episode 2 tours 15 great producers so many of whom I love. And it made me think how much I enjoy producing (as well as writing and performing) for our little band. And that got me back to the piano and guitar. And that got me actually making some music again. So time does, indeed, progress and upset turns back to routine.

    And I’m back, as someone once said, to ticking away the moments that make up a dull day.

    Oh and here’s a few I’m sure are on my 200+ list. Not comprehensive but maybe worth a listen?

    – LZ 1 & 4
    – 2112 (but only side 1)
    – DSOTM
    – Animals
    – In a Silent Way
    – The Karajan recording of Symphony 7
    – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
    – Abbey Road
    – Paul’s Boutique
    – Fear of Music
    – Doolittle
    – (No Pussyfooting)
    – The Koln Concert
    – 90125
    – So
    – A Picture of Nectar
    – Weezer Blue

    1. Animals – the most underrated Pink Floyd album in the catalog? I especially love the guitar work, and I’d much rather listen to Animals all the way through compared to The Wall (of which I don’t even own a CD copy anymore, and I still have more than 800 CDs on the shelves).

      Unlike DSOTM, which has universal appeal, Animals has a much narrower focus. With three epic-length songs and no hit single possibilities, it’s not designed for mass consumption. Maybe that’s one reason why I like it so much – it hasn’t been overplayed on the radio like other ’70s Floyd albums. It was a good setup album for the blockbuster that followed (similar to U2’s Unforgettable Fire and Springsteen’s Nebraska, both of which I like more than the blockbusters that followed).

      Also: 2112! Just saw the Time Stand Still documentary. Glad the band is leaving the stage on a high note.

      1. If you grew up in suburban philly in the 80s, you would occasionally find WNYC or WMMR playing all of, say, dogs on the radio. Which, in retrospect, is surprising. But I agree. Animals is super underrated. As is the final cut. And Wall and WYWH are hyped above their quality. And DSOTM is a universal masterpiece.

        I had never thought of comparing Animals with the unforgettable fire and nebraska but I totally love it. And I love that in two cases (animals and unforgettable) it echoes onto the blockbuster and with nebraska it does far less so. Of course in the U2 case, so much of the story is Eno’s injection into the band. If I hop off and listen to music for airports 5 or 6 more times, it will join the 200+ club too, now I think of it.

        And yup, 2112. One of my very first big concerts was the power windows tour. The wonderful thing about being a Rush fan (aside from the protection against accidental interaction with women) is that it’s sort of life long nerdy fun and everyone’s in on it, from the progged out dads to the burners who dropped out once the synths came in to the kids re-discovering the roots of math rock.

  2. A variety of random thoughts to share:

    1. Sounds vs. Songs: Pink Floyd always had interesting sounds. Dark Side was the first time that the band produced consistently excellent songwriting to match the sounds. I read a quote from Nick Mason stating that, even though DSOTM sold eight times as many records, it wasn’t eight times as great as any of their previous albums. I disagree – the songwriting on Dark Side IS eight times greater, at least, than the best album before it (probably Meddle).

    2. Having said that, I just purchased the Cre/ation 2-disc summary of their massive pre-Dark Side box set (yes, I still purchase CDs, I’m a ’90s luddite that way). A nice intro to their weird early work which I never fully embraced, but I have learned to appreciate a handful of superior songs from what I call their “Space Cadet” era. Still, listening to the early stuff, I’m still amazed by how much they improved on DSOTM. It’s light years ahead in many ways.

    3. Pink Floyd are staples of the Classic Rock era. I think that the quality of the audio recordings in the ’70s is a big reason why Classic Rock remains so popular today (besides also coinciding with the Baby Boomers being in their 20s). Multi-track stereo recording techniques had improved greatly since the ’60s, with FM radio stations sounding much better than their AM predecessors. So all of the time Floyd spent in the studio perfecting their sounds was worth it in the long run.

    4. Speaking of Baby Boomers – of all the boomer rock dinosaurs that played Coachella in October, only Roger Waters was explicitly political, and rightly so. Waters is an arrogant bastard much of the time, and I’ve never liked his solo albums, but he is also a breath of fresh air (OK, more like sour hot air) compared to the anodyne, almost corporate utterances from the likes of McCartney and Jagger.

    5. Has anyone else seen Dark Side of the Rainbow? I saw it in a movie theater many years ago. I can’t decide if the strange timings are purely coincidental (as the band members maintain), or if they’ve been pulling our legs all along.

  3. Oof, thanks you guys! A bit like being caught on video tape, after these posts are done I sometimes have to back off from them for a bit and am glad to catch up with life instead. But I love these comments, and seeing y’all interact so awesomely.

    And I’m not the only one! People have been approaching me quite unprompted this week to tell me how much they enjoyed this week’s comments – if we get the three of you on a podcast, it’ll be a hit. A hit, I tells ya!

    And, yes, Animals is the one for me.

    1. I’m up for a pilot Transatlantic podcast, if it can be arranged. Must involve music appreciation to some degree.

      1. I actually spent a friends 50th birthday party sketching an outline of a music podcast for a couple of folks who were not musicians but were impressed with my encyclopedic knowledge of the subject which I exhibit when in the presence of alcohol. They may also have been being polite. It’s hard for me to tell when I’m waxing poetic about Weezer blue and Prokofiev. And in the presence of alcohol. I remember thinking episode one could be a reflection on guitar sounds in fresh fruit for rotting vegetables and whether “guitar” and “metal” are mis-conflated fairly. Good times.

        But for a while I’ve thought that me and Ricky and Beth spouting bullshit to a prompt with a drink could be a great podcast. And the more the merrier.

        So I’m game if we want in 17. Trans Atlantic is easy enough – we all just need a good mic and a couple of bits of software to record locally to make a merged final….

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