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The Dark Side of the Rainbow: A Lesson in Synchronicity

Stashed in: Wizard of Oz, Music, 1990s, Freakonomics

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The ethereal nature of The Dark Side of the Moon (and the fact that a large portion of its listeners indulged in mind-altering substances) led to a strange observation: in the mid-nineties, users in an online forum pointed out that the album served as a perfect soundtrack for the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz.” What ensued was years of speculation, drug-fuelled fan rants, and adamant denial by band members.

I remember doing this in the 1990s. Without drugs.

It's good that you can remember.

I remember thinking at the time that it was neat that Dark Side of the Moon lined up so well.

Then I remember thinking perhaps my mind only THINKS they line up well.

Fans seem to teeter a bit on the subject: some steadfastly believe that Pink Floyd crafted the album specifically for the film, while others brush off the similarities as synchronicities with no discernible causal connection. The match-ups, however are undeniable. In his original article, Savage elaborates on a few of the most notable:

*  During [opening track] "Breathe," Dorothy does a tightrope-like walk along the holding pen to the lyric "and balanced on the biggest wave."

*  The line "no one told you when to run" from "Time" is sung just as the scene switches to Dorothy running away from home to save Toto.

*  "Home, home again" from the "Breathe" reprise is sung as the fortuneteller tells Dorothy to go home.

*  "Don't give me that do goody good bullshit" from "Money" comes as Glinda the Good Witch of the North floats in as a bubble.

*  "Black... and blue" from "Us and Them" is sung as the Wicked Witch of the West appears dressed in black. That is shortly followed by "and who knows which is which" (witch is witch) as she and Glenda confront each other.

*  "Brain Damage" -- which begins at almost the same time as the movie's "If I Only Had a Brain" -- contains the lines "The lunatic is on the grass" and "Got to keep the loonies on the path." This is just as the Scarecrow flops around like a madman on the grass and then on the Yellow Brick Road.

Pink Floyd devotees soon chimed in with their own observations. In (an early online music discussion page), dozens of threads from 1995-96 point out lyrical and visual parallels. “When Dorothy and Toto see the traveling circus guy or whatever,” writes one user, “the song is playing ‘to hear the softly spoken magic spells’ while the guy is looking into the crystal ball.”

“I don't care if it sounds unbelievable, but certain parts fit great,” writes another fan. “I went as far as to put the Disc on repeat, and it still fit unbelievably: As soon as Dorothy opens the door into Munchkin land, the cash register starts...The cymbal crashes on ‘Eclipse’ went exactly with the axe's strikes into the door...Dorothy opens her eyes right when [the albums lyrics state] ‘Home, home again.’”

Did Pink Floyd ever chime in with whether this was intentional?

They denied intent.

So it may have been a subconscious decision? Cool.

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