Some albums exist outside of music and operate within the world’s collective pop culture. The Dark Side Of The Moon sits among the pantheon of classic album titles, and it’s impossible to imagine Pink Floyd’s magnum opus christened anything else, but that unthinkable travesty almost happened.
Perhaps, it’s due to the album’s undisputed mercurial nature that just makes it such a befitting title for the concept record, which explores the parts of life that we usually prefer to leave locked off on a shelf. The otherworldly feel that The Dark Side Of The Moon oozes also enforces the title’s lunar aspect, yet, for a while, it looked like the Floyd would have to make other plans.
Although they were already a name that carried immense weight in the UK, this album was their breakthrough moment in the USA and changed the trajectory of Pink Floyd forever. Staggeringly since its release, the seminal record has stayed lodged in the Billboard 200 for 950 weeks in total. That’s, remarkably, over 18 years.
You could make your way to almost any country, and even if you didn’t speak a word in their native tongue, The Dark Side Of The Moon is instantly recognisable, with the record representing a commonality between any two people. In truth, the album title played no part in its success, as Medicine Head found out when the rock band released an album of the same name the year prior.
Pink Floyd famously weren’t the most prolific of outfits, and perfectionism was an unavoidable part of their DNA. They took their time to make sure their album was just right before releasing it, and while they were busy adding the seasoning, Medicine Head decided to release their album, which almost scuppered their plans.
“We weren’t annoyed at Medicine Head,” Gilmour told Sounds in 1972. “We were annoyed because we had already thought of the title before the Medicine Head album came out,” he added.
In fairness to the American group, they didn’t know what Pink Floyd had up their sleeve. They agonisingly watched on as Medicine Head accidentally stole their title and decided to name the album Eclipse, after the track on the record.
Waters later commented on why ‘Eclipse’ epitomised The Dark Side Of The Moon’s theme, which is also a lyric in the song. He stated: “The album uses the sun and the moon as symbols; the light and the dark; the good and the bad; the life force as opposed to the death force. I think it’s a very simple statement saying that all the good things life can offer are there for us to grasp, but that the influence of some dark force in our natures prevents us from seizing them.
“The song addresses the listener and says that if you, the listener, are affected by that force, and if that force is a worry to you, well I feel exactly the same too,” Waters continued. “The line ‘I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon’ is me speaking to the listener, saying, ‘I know you have these bad feelings and impulses because I do too, and one of the ways I can make direct contact with you is to share with you the fact that I feel bad sometimes.”
Thankfully, Medicine Head’s album was a monumental flop, and Pink Floyd decided that they’d be free to name their title what they’d originally planned, as the chances of people even knowing the other record existed were slim to none. In a parallel universe somewhere, Pink Floyd made the seminal masterpiece, Eclipse, while Medicine Head are intrinsically linked with The Dark Side Of The Moon.