June 6, 1997|
Dark Side/Wizard of Oz rumor spreads
Did Roger Waters secretly write The Dark Side of the Moon as an
alternate soundtrack to the 1939 film The Wizard of Ox? The question
has been the subject of much media attention lately.
Years ago, someone noticed that if you start the film The Wizard of Oz
playing in your VCR and then cue up your compact disk of Dark Side of
the Moon as the MGM lion roars the third time, many coincidences will
occur as the music matches the film in amusing ways. The
During "Breathe", Dorothy teeters along a fence to the lyric: "balanced on the biggest wave."
The Wicked Witch appears on her bike at the same moment the clocks chime before "Time" begins.
During "Time," Dorothy breaks into a trot to the line: "no one told you when to run."
When Dorothy leaves the fortune-teller to go back to her farm, the album is playing "home, home again."
"The Great Gig in the Sky" seems to match the tornado sequence nicely.
"Money" begins just as the film switches from black-and-white to color.
Glinda, the cloyingly saccharine Good Witch of the North, appears in her bubble just as the band sings "Don't give me that do goody good bullshit."
The munchins' dance seems to match "Us and Them" well.
The Good Witch confronts the Wicked Witch as Gilmour sings "And who knows which is which".
The song "Brain Damage" starts about (but not exactly) the same time as the scarecrow launches into "If I Only Had a Brain".
As Dorothy listens to the Tin Man's chest we hearthe heartbeat at the end of the album.
This coincidence has been talked about for years among Pink Floyd fans.
But around April first this year, a deejay from WZLX-FM in Boston (who
will remain nameless here) mentioned this age-old rumor on the air. It
worked as a perfecty as a publicity stunt. His name has seen print in
many major publications since then.
Dark Side producer, Alan Parsons, denies any connection between Dark
Side and Oz, stating that The Wizard of Oz never came up at all during
production of the album. Pink Floyd's keyboardist Richard Wright was
totally baffled by the suggestion of it. He had never heard of such a
thing. The WZLX deejay, however, claims to believe that Roger Waters
intentionally and secretly wrote the album to fit the film. Could it
really have happened as the deejay claims?
To cause the album to match the film, you must start the CD of Dark
Side of the Moon at exactly the right moment while The Wizard of Oz
plays on your VCR. It does not work with a vinyl copy of the album
because you have to stop to flip the album over, and the timing is thrown
off. The CD is, in fact, a bit different from the vinyl LP. The fade-out of
"The Great Gig In the Sky" has been shortened by several seconds, and
now segues directly into the beginning of "Money."
As one fan rhetorically wondered, if Waters did intend the album to be
played to the film, what VCR did Waters expect people to play the film
on back in 1973? And where was someone to get a compact disk when
CDs would not be invented for ten years?
The rumor also overlooks one seemingly obvious point: Roger Waters did
not have control over the lengths of the songs. The songs for The Dark
Side of the Moon were developed during tours in 1972. The tempos were
very different during those tours. In particular, "Time" was played much
slower. "On the Run" was a guitar jam, bearing no resemblance to what
appeared on the album. (In fact, David Gilmour has stated that "On the
Run" was written at the very last minute, improvised in the studio.)
These early performances of Dark Side do not match the film.
"Breathe in the Air" was largely written by David Gilmour. Gilmour is
also primarily responsible for many instrumental passages in "Time",
"Money", "Any Colour You Like" and other songs. If Waters secretly timed
the album to the film, how did he convince Gilmour to match his solos to
the film? And how did he convince Gilmour and Wright to meticulously
time their free-form jamming in "Any Colour You Like"?
The song "Great Gig in the Sky"-supposedly written to match the tornado
scene perfectly-was written by Rick Wright, without help from others.
How could Waters convince Wright to time the song to the scene,
without Wright knowing? Waters had no hand in authorship of the song.
Scoring a soundtrack to match a film is an involving process. It involves
timing a click track to the film, and meticulously charting the precise
moment when events occur within the length of the click track. But the
fact is, Dark Side was developed on the road, with much of the material
coming out of unstructured jams. The way the album was written rules
out definitively any possibility that the album was intentionally written
to match the film.
Although it's clear that it could not have been intentional, the
coincidences are enjoyable. And all the talk about Dark Side and Oz has
led to some interest in another old rumor: the album Meddle matches the
film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Enjoy the coincidences, but don't be fooled
by the ill-informed gossip.