When it comes to the longtime myths in the storied history of rock ‘n’ roll, there have been thousands of legends, but only a few that truly stood the test of time. While mentions of Mama Cass choking on a ham sandwich and Elvis sightings remain en masse, William Hung overdosing on heroin and Charlie Manson auditioning for The Monkees have mostly been lost to the sands of time. But of all the great music myths and meanderings, perhaps none stand out as much as the idea that Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon works perfectly as a thematic soundtrack to MGM’s classic 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz.
Dubbed “Dark Side of the Rainbow,” this myth got its start inside of little-read print publications before finally being picked up by popular DJs of the late 90s (specifically, then-Boston DJ and founding father of satellite radio, George Taylor Morris). As the Internet proliferated society like wildfire, so too did the myth, expanding locally in popularity before becoming a full-fledged, mainstream phenomenon amongst stoned college kids and reformed baby boomers alike. Start a conversation about Pink Floyd today and it’s a foregone conclusion that The Wizard of the Oz will be one of the first topics to come up.
From the Gale farmhouse flying through the air in “Great Gig in the Sky” to Dorothy stepping out into Technicolor for the first time during the initial ca-ching of “Money”, the manner in which the two pieces of media coincide is quite remarkable. And yet, though there are supposedly over 100 points of synchronicity that fans have found between the two, members of the band (as well as sound engineer for the album, Allan Parsons) have repeatedly refuted the idea.
Anyone who knows anything about the Pink Floyd of that era knows that creating something so special around an entertainment property that was so intensely popular (and profitable on a corporate level) was pretty much the last thing they would have focused so much energy towards. Likewise, talk to any psychologist on the matter and you’ll hear a description of apophenia, the mind’s tendency to think it recognizes patterns while discarding any data that doesn’t fit.
Regardless of these naysaying notions, the myth continues on, continually referenced in popular entertainment, including Family Guy and The Colbert Report. And the legend will likely continue to grow, showing no signs of going-away. As advancements in technology have made the experiment an easier one to experience, it’s very possible that Dark Side of the Rainbow will remain a common bond between college kids, their fathers and, hell, probably their grandfathers too.
Elijah Bates is a contributing writer to CBS Local
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