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“On Pink Floyd, The Lumineers and the Sovereignty of Darkness”

The Lumineers are one of the bands that gets play on this one station my sous chef at work puts on. I usually say most of the music on this channel is like “dentist office music,” though much of it, I have to admit, is pretty decent “dentist office music.” The Lumineers would, no doubt, be included in this latter realm. 

One of the most popular songs of theirs, along with “Ophelia,” is “Brightside,” a song about, you guessed it, a fair maiden. In the case of this song, the girl at hand, per the song’s narrative, is listening to Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon by herself, to which the Lumineers lead singer responds “I’ll be your bright side / Baby tonight”, hence arranging a decently interesting binary of dark and bright which, I don’t think, anyone else has ever done, at least in that exact way. Most people hold The Dark Side of the Moon at a distance, like a museum exhibit, a beacon exempt from obligations of allusion and metamorphosis.

For this reason, I probably, I have, at certain points in my life, been prone to calling Pink Floyd “overrated.” Actually, ironically, I remember, it was at a point where I made a regular practice of doing shrooms and mescaline, along with my usual weed habit. Today, I realize The Dark Side of the Moon as the premiere psychedelic rock album of all time that it is, notwithstanding, perhaps, some noise from Pet Sounds and Magical Mystery Tour.

But, psychedelia… what is the point of it? I mean, how many times do you need to hear that you should put a flower in your hair and get naked? 

Well, this gets me to my next point, because The Dark Side of the Moon is the dystopic culmination of psychedelia, the “where the sidewalk ends,” as it were (I’m way over my over/under on Shel Sylverstein references on this blog, I’m thinking). It’s an album that acknowledges certain malaises, two of which, as expounded by Wikipedia, are degraded lifestyles and living conditions of bands on tour, and the mental illness incurred by former bandmate Syd Barrett. The second of these, to say nothing of the first, does have obvious lyrical grounding in the song “Brain Damage,” the penultimate track which typically gets lumped in medley form with “Eclipse,” the closeur. On this track, Roger Waters sings “The lunatic is on the grass / Inventing games and daisy chains and laughs / Got to keep the lunars on the path”. The song does a nice job of highlighting how the term “lunatic” has “lunar” roots as well as infusing the listener with a certain sympathy for said abnormal person by make the reality very real, to us. As a listener, you identify with that lunatic. Psychedelia has made us all into lunatics and we’re still wedged in this rat-race realm of capitalism referenced in the first song, “Breathe”: “Run rabbit run / Dig that hole and get the sum / And when at last the work is done / Don’t sit down it’s time to dig another one”. The Dark Side of the Moon is a psychedelic album which is also a disillusioned one, existing within the realm of psychedelia but also denoting the pitfalls of said realm, with evidence of abnormal psychology and with the ubiquitous necessity of production within our developed, industrialized nations.

So when this Lumineers dude comes in all Johnny Sunshine on the eccentric trek to knock boots, I can’t help but just feel a little bit of compunction. The Lumineers are a band I would say that makes music designed for people with no sense of how much suffering goes on in the world. The Dark Side of the Moon, on the other hand, broods within said realm of highlighting maladies and dead-ends to our existences, and sure has He** doesn’t have time for romantic themes, lyrically. Lumineers dude is trying to bring in nookie as a theme in Dark Side of the Moon, whereas, in reality, if this girl he’s writing about was really listening to the album and enjoying it, she’s sodden with the sort of humanistic qualms and manias that would make you stop and think before diving into some shallow, rote activity, like a rabbit digging a hole as a cog in the omnipotent corporate machine. The purpose of the line “I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon” in “Brain Damage” is to ensure the listener that the songwriter is willing to climb down into that mine shaft with the person who’s going through some bad sh**, or who is struggling with mental illness, and wants to turn off the lights on the world. And, in order to understand Pink Floyd and their career-defining album, you have to have some of that inclination in you too, to cower, to at least acknowledge that we all, at some point, would like to see the lights turned down on the world, at least a little bit. 

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