I’m a little too weary to elaborate, except to note that this was originally published in my former online home.
In 1973, I lived in a household that had a lot of records. There were so many, in fact, that they basically defined the decor. Entire walls were obliterated from view by the shelves of albums. There was even one wall that was basically nothing but albums, effectively extending the hallway by several feet just as capably as 2x4s and drywall. Obtaining every chunk of the unfolding evolution of rock ‘n’ roll was the obsession of my first stepfather (don’t ask), and I spent that chunk of my junior years literally engulfed in music. Despite the abundance of his available selection, there was one album that was such a regular on the turntable that, had flipping it over from time to time not been required, it may as well have been grafted on permanently. Similarly, the opened gatefold cover could have been mistaken for part of the coffee table (it was also always covered some sort of a strange, pungent dried greenery that looked like the herbs in my mother’s kitchen, but seemed a little different for some reason.) That album was Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon.
The album wasn’t just a fixture in our house; it was a perpetual resident on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. It debuted there shortly after its release in the spring of 1973 and remained nestled somewhere within (and for a lone week, atop) those ten score albums for a record 741 consecutive weeks, finally slipping off the chart in the mid-eighties. At the time, the speculation was that Dark Side‘s streak ended in part because of the CD revolution lessening the need for hardcore fans to continually replace worn-out vinyl copies.
When I was a kid, I just knew the album, the inevitable result of it reverberating through our little house as I huddled on the floor with my Tonka trucks. I was especially fond of “Money,” maybe because the use of cash register noises and other sound effect signifiers of ongoing commerce had an odd similarity to some of the silly, noisy songs that could be found on the Sesame Street records stacked next to the little plastic turntable in my bedroom. That was the one I know I used to sing along with, much to the amusement of the adults in the room. I’ve often wondered if I actually used to sing the lines “Don’t give me that/Do goody good bullshit.” I may have. Ours wasn’t exactly a wash-out-the-mouth-with-soap kind of home.
Though I don’t hear it invoked in this way much, Dark Side must sit somewhere near The Catcher in the Rye on the shelf of perpetual touchstones of moody teen existence. By the time I got to high school, the album was about a decade old and yet my peers adored it, finding some relevnt expression of their own angst in the angry lyrics and David Gilmour’s lushly extravagant guitar work. Even today it seems like an awful lot of kids I see arriving at college show up with that familiar prismatic triangle somewhere amongst their belongings. So at least one thing I sometimes thought back then may yet prove to be true. The Dark Side of the Moon will never stop playing.