10 Fun Facts Only Floyd Freaks Know About Dark Side of the Moon
Pink Floyd's rock and roll masterpiece, The Dark Side of the Moon, turned 40 years old this weekend. If you don't already own a copy or three, consider checking it out. It's the best album by one of history's best bands, and you can find as easily in any record store in Phuket as you can in Philadelphia.
It's in music sellers' best interest to keep a few copies in stock, you see: in four decades, Dark Side has spent more than 800 weeks on the Billboard 200. That's more than 15 years!
No surprise, really: if you're looking for a rock record to put on while you blaze a j, go for a drive or make passionate love, it doesn't get much better than Dark Side. Each year, a new crop of 15-year-olds seems to discover it.
Despite being beloved for at least three generations now, though, there are still a few mysteries that the album reveals only to the most dedicated Floyd freaks. Here are ten of our favorites:
10. Paul McCartney ended up on the cutting-room floor.
Photo by Jim Bricker
Dark Side of the Moon made brilliant use of voices throughout the album, and most of them came from folks who simply happened to be hanging around Abbey Road when it was recorded. Roadies, doormen, and even the members of Wings were posed questions that lyricist Roger Waters had written on cue cards, like "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?"
Paul McCartney was among those interviewed, but his voice didn't make the cut. Perhaps Sir Paul was being a tad too guarded or cheeky with his answers: Waters found he got better, weirder stuff from guys like the studio's Irish doorman, Gerry O'Driscoll, who let the band know that, matter of fact, it was all dark.
9. The album was nominated for a single Grammy...
...and not for the band. The only man honored for his work on the album with a Grammy nomination was its producer, Alan Parsons, who parlayed his newfound notoriety into his own successful recording group, the Alan Parsons Project. Never best-known for their humble attitudes toward creative credit, Floyd's members have downplayed Parsons' role in capturing Dark Side in the 40 years since, although they did ask him back for Wish You Were Here. (He declined.)
In truth, Parsons probably did deserve this Grammy. The engineer made use of some of the most cutting-edge studio techniques at the time to create the 16-track, quadrophonic mixes. Not bad at all, when you consider everything was being put together using tape and razor blades.
8. It's been 19 years since "Pink Floyd" performed the album in full.
DSoTM was performed by the David Gilmour-led incarnation of Pink Floyd on select dates of the band's final tour in 1994. If it doesn't quite feel that long, it's probably because various members have played suites of music from the album live on tour several times since, including Roger Waters taking the entire album around the world with his solo band between 2006 and 2008. That tour hit the Woodlands on May 4, 2008.
7. Clare Torry was initially shocked the band liked her "Great Gig in the Sky" vocals.
The original version of "The Great Gig In the Sky" that the band worked out live was essentially an organ solo featuring tape loops of Bible passages and religious speeches. For the album version, the lead was switched to piano, but the band couldn't find any samples they liked. They decided to try a singer.
Parsons found Clare Torry, a 22-year-old session vocalist. Unbeknownst to many who would later dry-hump to her voice, Torry was extremely white and extremely British. The band was largely at a loss on what instructions to give, so Torry imagined herself as an instrument and tried to interpret the song's theme of mortality.
After two full takes, the band dismissed her. She assumed they hated it and forgot about the session. While they played it cool, though, Pink Floyd was delighted with Torry's singing. She didn't realize they'd used her voice until she saw the album in a store and found her name in the credits.