Generation Rediscovers Dark Side of the Rainbow Myth

A graphic interpretation of the Dark Side of the Rainbow phenomenon.

A graphic interpretation of the Dark Side of the Rainbow phenomenon.

Ashley Waldron

A graphic interpretation of the Dark Side of the Rainbow phenomenon.

Over the last few decades many urban myths have come about, especially dealing with big name music bands—including The Beatles and Led Zeppelin.  Remember “Paul is dead” and the devilish back-masked version of Stairway to Heaven?  For some serious music gurus out there, they spend countless hours researching and looking for subtle clues—and in some cases they find them.  It is a question of belief, for the majority of people out there are pretty skeptical.  Those legends have been circulating for a while now and are often over-analyzed, but recently the myth has been re-discovered by people who listen to old music but were not from that era.  Many gurus started taking a closer look into the timeless British rock band: Pink Floyd.  Try slamming Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz together.  The results are mind-boggling.

Released in March of 1973, Dark Side of the Moon hit record sales within the first week.  To this day, the album is considered one of the greatest ever, but also one of the most unique as well.  Some of the themes hidden in the lyrics include conflict, greed, the passage of time, and mental illness—inspired by Syd Barrett’s departure from the band in 1968 due to his diminishing mental health.  Many people would say the best way to experience this album is to listen to the complex sounds and voices from huge loudspeakers. To really take it all in, however, next time you watch it, make sure to turn DSOTM all the way up and The Wizard of Oz movie soundtrack all the way down.

Synchronization, as it is referred to, is how this whole urban legend started.  Somewhere along the line, people tried to synchronize DSOTM and Wizard of Oz, but no one really knows where it originated.  The problem: Pink Floyd completely denies it, even when presented with really startling evidence.  According to lyricist Roger Waters, this myth is “amusing.”  They claim the movie was never mentioned during the production of the album.  Clearly then, it is up to anyone interested to really pay attention and see for themselves.

The key is to press “play” on the album at the precise moment that the famous MGM lion completes the third roar.  Experimenters are supposed to wait to see if they lined it up right if the first chords of “Breathe” start to play as soon as the words on the screen show up: Produced by Mervyn LeRoy.  From first hand experience with this, I actually felt the chills.  There is no question about it, the whole idea is absolutely mystifying and creepy—if you’re into that sort of thing.

One of the first coincidences that happen is when the lyrics, “balanced on the biggest wave” from “Breathe” are sung, and Dorothy happens to be balancing on a fence.  The weird part about it is that once the words “race towards an early grave” are sung, she falls into the chicken coop—which looks like someone is falling into a grave.  At that moment, “On the Run” starts to play when the farmhands help her out to save her.  As if that is not enough, as soon as the woman’s voice in “On the Run” is heard, Auntie Em starts talking.  Another one, Mrs. Gulch is shown furiously riding her bicycle as soon as the bells and chimes loudly start playing in “Time.”

Probably the most impressive match up is the tornado scene, and of course “The Great Gig in the Sky” is playing in the background.  Coincidence?  I think not.  The vocals from Clare Torry seem to match up with the wind gusts and Dorothy’s mouth as she is yelling out to her family.  The famous saying in that song, “I am not frightened of dying, anytime will do, why should I be frightened of dying, there’s no reason for it, we’ve all got to go sometime” is heard as the twister is shown in the background for the second time.  As soon as the song becomes calmer, Dorothy is knocked unconscious.  During that part where she sees things out the window, the line, “I never said I was frightened of Dorothy” is heard–which is actually straining to hear clearly even with the sound turned all the way up.  (Could Pink Floyd have possibly made it that way so as not to give the secret away?)  Ending that scene, when the Kansas sepia-gray color changes to the Technicolor of Oz, the cash register sounds are heard from the song “Money.”  The amazement of the synchronization of that scene has lead to further analysis of the album cover, which could be interpreted as the gray line being transformed into the colorful rainbow, the same as how it happened in going from Kansas to Oz.  As a true believer of this culture phenomenon, its nice to think that the yellow strip of color on the rainbow prism represents the Yellow Brick Road–but again, that is just my opinion.

Skeptics might think that “Us and Them” would be impossible to match up with the Munchkin scene, but they have not looked or listened.  First of all, throughout the scene, the Munchkins seem to be in sync with the drumbeats from the song.  And if we take a closer look at the lyrics, as soon as the Wicked Witch of the West emerges from the cloud of red smoke wearing all black, the lyrics “black” are heard.  Then, when the shot of Dorothy is shown in her blue dress after that, the lyrics are “blue.”  As Glinda says, “Witch is witch” the lyrics are “and who knows which is which.”

Striding into the last few songs on the album, during “Brain Damage” the lyrics, “the lunatic is on the grass” is heard while the Scarecrow is flailing about on the ground.  Finally, the heartbeat at the end of “Eclipse” is heard while Dorothy is tapping on the tin man’s chest—as if to hear a heartbeat.

All of this evidence may be just a freaky coincidence; yet, the first side of the vinyl of DSOTM is the exact same length as the non-color Kansas scenes.  The only problem with the myth is that not everything in the movie goes perfectly with everything in the songs.  It’s the subtle match-ups here and there that really stand out.  Additionally, how on earth could Pink Floyd accomplish this phenomenon during that time period, where they did not have all the musical sound recording technology we have today?  Well, you could say it’s the same question as to how they produced one of the greatest albums of all time—an unimaginable creativity.  Pink Floyd might have pulled one of the greatest synchronizations of all time, but with no proving response from the source themselves, the world may never know.  By merging the timeless album Dark Side of the Moon with the equally timeless movie The Wizard of Oz, Pink Floyd has truly created one of the most mind-blowing urban myths ever, and an alternative soundtrack to the classic movie.