Oct 10, 2011

Rethinking Our Prejudices

Pink Floyd.  I know what comes to mind, because it comes to my mind, too.  The laser shows.  The rumors about how they're totally supposed to be listened to high, and if you start Dark Side of the Moon, at the same time that you start The Wizard of Oz with the sound turned off....

I work in a high school.  I don't quite understand their holding power, but I see a constant flow of DSofTM T-shirts.  And I think, as I suppose you do- burn-out slacker.  Or something along those lines.

But every once in awhile I'll hear one of their songs on the radio and think I hear an echo within myself.  So I signed the album out of the library, and today I took a mountain bike ride and listened as hard as I could while bouncing over occasional rocks, etc.   And what I heard was a little different than what I expected to hear.

The band very well may have spent all their time taking drugs- I really do not care.  But for teenagers who are searching for their true selves, really for all of us, I think the album is actually quite thoughtful and deserves a rethinking.

But none of that is what motivates me to write this.  That motivation comes from the song Brain Damage.  You may not know that one of the original founders for the group was Syd Barrett, who was thrown out in 1968.  Or that the title comes from the idea of Lunacy (Luna meaning moon) rather than astronomy.

From what surfacey research I've done, the song and album is not explicitly about Barrett (rather, the album is meant to answer the question 'Can everyday life make you go insane?'), but from stories that are told about his last days with the group, it could hardly be about anything else.  Lines like "You raise the blade, you make the change, you re-arrange me 'til I'm sane" and "You lock the door and throw away the key, there's someone in my head, but it's not me" (Barrett used to go so crazy on drugs, some stories tell, that groupies would have to lock him in broomclosets to keep him from hurting himself or others) show empathy with mental problems that comes from personal experience.  How can that be a bad thing- or even not a good thing?- for teenagers to be listening to?

That one line really makes the whole album, for me.  Who hasn't felt, "there's someone in my head, but it's not me"?   Especially if you have ever felt any sort of mental disturbance like depression, etc. or know friends who have, this song really 'strikes a chord' (ugh.)

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