Posted by: Cary O’Dell, March 22, 2023
Fifty years ago this month, one of the most remarkable and deeply enduring albums ever made was released. Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” was added to the Library’s National Recording Registry in 2013. In the essay below, exclusive to the Library, Dr. Daniel J. Levitin examines the brutal beauty of this masterwork.
Angst. Greed. Alienation. Questioning one’s own sanity. Weird time signatures. Experimental sounds. In 1973, Pink Floyd was a somewhat known progressive rock band, but it was this, their ninth album, that catapulted them into world class rock-star status.
“The Dark Side of the Moon” spent an astonishing 14 years on the “Billboard” album charts, and sold an estimated 45 million copies. It is a work of outstanding artistry, skill, and craftsmanship that is popular in its reach and experimental in its grasp.
An engineering masterpiece, the album received a Grammy nomination for best engineered non-classical recording, based on beautifully captured instrumental tones and a warm, lush soundscape. Engineer Alan Parsons and Mixing Supervisor Chris Thomas, who had worked extensively with The Beatles (the LP was mastered by engineer Wally Traugott), introduced a level of sonic beauty and clarity to the album that propelled the music off of any sound system to become an all-encompassing, immersive experience.