Shortly after getting my driver’s license, I was grounded. Sent to my room. No friends. But what my parents didn’t realize was I had a record player. The creation carrying Thomas Edison’s DNA that could take me to worlds far outside my neighborhood and my mom wouldn’t even know I left. This long playing disc player took me to places of ancient lore like the underground civilizations imagined by J.R. Tolkien and put to music by Led Zeppelin. And it took me to the outer reaches of the universe to the “Dark Side of The Moon.”
The album that recently turned 40 was by most all accounts- THE album. A collection of songs, themed in narrative and ambitious in scope, made to be listened to in its entirety. Touching on all aspects of the human condition.
There is the aching reality of time and its unmanageability coupled with the comforting solace knowing we have company in our “quiet desperation.” I completely indulged myself in the album on my day of punishment. I had pushed my parents’ tolerance level past the envelope and they sent me to my room to teach me a lesson. I indeed learned quite a bit that day but not from my civil disobedience but by my disobedience. Professors Waters and Gilmour were my instructors.
During this time of maturing adolescence, I was trying to discover myself in a sea of new emotions. As I lay on my bed, I was doing more than ticking away the moments that were supposed to be making up my dull day, I was literally “waiting for someone or something to show me the way.” And the band members of Pink Floyd did. That day they taught me how to listen to “the softly spoken magic spells” of music in lore and life.
I was being punished, but more by the dynamic sounds coming through my headphones with padded cups so large they were closer to elephant ears than today’s ear buds. And as I drifted into a space of higher learning, my day was rudely interrupted by the necessity of turning the damn thing over just to hear the rest of it. Then, I turned side one of the acetate over and noticed a sparkling color had now permeated through the prism in the center of the disc. Side one’s black and white light had become glorious color as the cash registers clang and sang, “Money, get away.”
There are no songs like it. Rappers have tried, Broadway showmen have labored but has anyone ever written a song like “Money”? “Share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie.”
As I spent my afternoon of repeated listenings, my spine shivered every time I heard Claire Torrey’s wordless vocals on “The Great Gig In The Sky.” If my sentence was to find religion, I did at 33 1/3 RPMs.
It seems crazy that most of what one needs to sustain a semblance of a life well lived is contained in the lyrics of this true masterpiece. That even in a massive age of instant communication and even faster gratification we are still confused on “which is which and who is who?”
But for an afternoon, a pubescent twelve year old matured with a piece of recorded music. Sent to my room I “lock the door and threw away the key.” Yes there was someone in my head(phones) but it wasn’t me. But today I think it might be.
In my many years, I have found there are plenty of things under the sun in tune but occasionally they are in fact eclipsed by the moon.