Jim Walsh's Big Hairy Weblog Thingy

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Psychedelic Muzak

There's an old joke:

What did the hippie say when he ran out of drugs?

"This music sucks, man..."

I thought of that joke recently when I was listening, for the first time, to one of the most successful albums ever recorded.

When I was in high school and college one of the albums to have was Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon.

It was particularly popular among the pseudo-intellectual stoner (PIST) types who insisted that there was no more transcendental experience than listening to "Floyd" on headphones late at night while toking on some really good...whatever (I never got into grass, so I'm not familiar with the lingo)...

The PIST guys were serious buttheads. These were the guys who never missed an opportunity to lambaste guys like me who listened to "Bubble-Gum" Top Forty (for the record, I was into doo-wop and classic R&B; somehow those hip, progressive types didn't, or couldn't, make a distinction).

I never understood the appeal of Floyd. What little I heard sounded to me like a self-indulgent Abbey Road knockoff with lyrics that read like something out of some fifteen year-old's diary.

In other words, Bubble-Gum Top Forty...with pretensions.

Flash forward thirty some years. I teeter on the edge of fifty. My music tastes have certainly evolved over the decades, running the gamut from Miles Davis to Buck Owens. And I still enjoy doo-wop and classic R&B.

I've even acquired an appreciation for folks I never had much use for in my younger years, like Dylan and Hendrix.

Which brings us back to Dark Side Of The Moon.

Recently I decided it was time to break down and check out Pink Floyd for myself. To see what the big deal was. Dark Side, after all, is an all-time best-seller. All those gazillion Floyd fans can't be wrong...can they?

So, a couple of weeks ago I coughed up the bucks and bought my first-ever copy of Dark Side Of The Moon.

One Sunday night, I stretched out on the floor, slapped the CD into my "home entertainment center," adjusted my headphones...

...and listened.

Listened to the whole thing.

And what I heard sounded pretty much like a self-indulgent Abbey Road knockoff with lyrics that read like something out of some fifteen year-old's diary.

Bubble-Gum. With pretensions.

Don't get me wrong. It's a well-crafted piece of music. Not a note out of tune - the craftsmanship behind it is admirable (I'm sure nobody was toking on anything when they made the album).

It's just that there's nothing to it. No substance.

It's like the musical version of Gertrude Stein's Oakland: there's no there there!

Maybe it's the fact I wasn't stoned. Of course everything sounds great when you're stoned, or so I've heard (I never got into grass). Sorry - if that's your scene, I don't knock it - but I prefer my music stand or fall on its own.

Transcendental my fat, hairy ass.

The CD is sitting on my shelf at home, along with Miles, Buck, the Temps, etc. I'm sure it will come in handy as production music on my next radio gig. It would do just fine as background for my next party.

Beyond that - well, I can only say this:

Fifty Gazillion stoner fans can be wrong.

Floyd sucks, man.

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