“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.” These are the first stanzas of ‘Breathe (In the Air),’ the first song on Pink Floyd’s existential masterpiece, “The Dark Side of the Moon.”
A concept album is any album, particularly a rock album, featuring a cycle of songs expressing a theme or idea. “The Dark Side of the Moon,” often cited as one of the most important concept albums ever released, highlights the pressures of society which can ultimately drive someone mad.
While natural actions such as living and dying or simply breathing can have an effect on someones life, socially constructed “values” such as time and money are often falsely idolized and lack of these “values” can lead to even more pain and suffering.
In ‘Time,’ Pink Floyd provides a full explanation of what time is and the effects it can have on ordinary people. Like Meursault in Albert Camus’s “The Stranger,” sometimes people try to kill time whether out of boredom, depression, or hysteria. However, time moves in a way that it seems to get faster every day. So by killing time, Pink Floyd argues, you are essentially only killing yourself.
“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 is gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say.”
Although completely instrumental, ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’ is an exact compilation of a lifetime. Starting softly and slowly, a piano begins to play and eventually a woman joins with an unforgettable shrieking. The shrieking and piano playing start to ramp up, getting louder, representing hope in young life. Eventually the shrieking and piano slow down again, but more and more overtime, reflecting adulthood and eventually old age. With 12 seconds left in the song, the music completely stops. Death.
While arguably the most popular song on the album, ‘Money’ analyzes the greatest false idol to man, one which can either leave you in a strong state of power or leave you rotting in a back alley somewhere, money. Songwriter Roger Waters writes that people believe money can lead to happiness, maybe by buying a new car, a Lear jet, or a football team. Though he quickly refutes that assumption calling money a gas, a crime, and the root of all evil today.
Those who have money are seen as selfish and those who don’t are seen as greedy. People will do anything to acquire more money if they are in need and if unsuccessful, one’s life could be ruined, making one feel like a failure. And eventually, as Pink Floyd argues, that failure can turn into madness.
In ‘Brain Damage’ Pink Floyd illustrates the total downfall of man. After running out of time, money, and breathe, one is driven insane, shortly leading to them to the after life, or as Pink Floyd puts it, the dark side of the moon.