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Music

The Pink Floyd classic inspired by a Marvel superhero

The connection between Pink Floyd and Marvel makes a lot of sense. The English band, who were pioneers of psychedelia and acid rock before moving into the realm of cerebral prog that gave us 1973’s The Dark Side of the Moon, have referenced space and time at many points across their career and their sound is something of an aural manifestation of the dreamy spirit of the Doctor Strange films and comics.

Duly, when ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ from their 1967 debut The Piper At The Gates of Dawn, featured in the early scenes of the first Doctor Strange film, cinema-goers who just so happened to also be fans of the band were delighted as the LSD-inspired sounds of the group’s Syd Barrett-fronted era were right at home with the subject material, and set a precedent for what was to follow in the mind-bending narrative of the film. Notably, the song is included just before the doctor has the life-altering car crash that leads him to learn the mystical arts.

However, the connection between Pink Floyd and Doctor Strange goes far beyond one of their fan favourites being used in the 2016 blockbuster. Both the band and character debuted in the ’60s, the decade where mind-bending drugs and psychedelia took off, and both stood out as being slightly different from others in their respective fields. 

Both the band and Doctor Strange were loved by stoner hippies, as the swirling music of Barrett, Roger Waters, and Co. was equally as effective at whisking the listener away from the mundanity of everyday life, as Steve Ditko’s surrealist artwork in the comics, and the combination of the three, well, need we say anymore?

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Due to his deteriorating mental health, which has been attributed to his heavy use of LSD and other drugs, Syd Barrett’s role in the band was greatly reduced when it came to the recording of their second album 1968’s A Saucerful of Secrets. Later that year he would leave the band, and thus they would enter their next chapter, which saw the songwriting partnership of Roger Waters and David Gilmour develop into one of the most potent in history. 

Barrett, who was undoubtedly the driving force behind the outwardly psychedelic sound of their early years, still featured on a few tracks on the record, making it their last the was so unapologetically so. Fittingly, the album artwork designer Storm Thorgerson included one of Marie Severin’s images of Doctor Strange and villain The Living Tribunal from Strange Tales issue #158 on the cover, tying both parties together forevermore.

At this point though, you’re probably thinking that the connection between Pink Floyd and Doctor Strange is rather flimsy, but be prepared to never be able to separate the two ever again. One of the band’s best tracks from their transitional, post-Barrett period is ‘Cymbaline’ from the band’s third album More, which was released as the soundtrack to the 1969 film of the same name. 

Originally, ‘Cymbaline’ was known as ‘Nightmare’, and it was performed as part of the suite The Man and The Journey, meaning that at the time, it shared its name with the first villain Doctor Strange ever encountered, but there is more. 

In the song, writer Roger Waters explicitly references the character of Doctor Strange. The lyrics are: “The leaves are heavy round your feet / You hear the thunder of the train / Suddenly it strikes you / That they’re moving into range/ And Doctor Strange is always changing size.”

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