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The endlessness of Pink Floyd

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 8:51 am
by Adam Blake
My favourite music critic Ian MacDonald once wrote an essay about the curious phenomenon of Pink Floyd's monstrous success. He thought it worth examining why so many millions of people apparently identify with such profoundly depressing and turgid music. That was a good 20 years ago. Yesterday I had a 12 year old student come in and tell me he had a new favourite record - "Dark Side Of The Moon" - and would I teach him how to play "Brain Damage" as he particularly liked that. I obliged. And then I played him this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJSIazpQZRg
He gave me THAT look that children have been giving teachers for thousands of years...

Re: The endlessness of Pink Floyd

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 9:40 am
by john poole
Which is least disturbing to watch?

with Syd (just about)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MMMN0VZmYw

with Roger & David pretending to be Syd
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Igv-7S4gP-k

Re: The endlessness of Pink Floyd

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:27 am
by will vine
There are millions of dads and grandads out there with interesting piles of records and cds for young kids to experience. Its all new and deliciously strange to twelve year olds brought up on karaoke talent shows. Maybe they'll stumble across the Eddie Floyd records as well.

Re: The endlessness of Pink Floyd

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:40 am
by Adam Blake
John: I am incapable of objectivity.

Will: Very true, but what fascinates me is the seemingly unstoppable power of this doomy music to speak to the 12 year old mindset. After all, when I was 12, I bought "Dark Side Of The Moon" with carefully saved up pocket money, and listened to it incessantly (in mono!) 41 years later, it seems nothing has changed. That is weird.

Re: The endlessness of Pink Floyd

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 7:25 pm
by AndyM
Facile banalities pretending to be profound always do well with certain audiences. See also: Salvador Dali, Tarkovsky, etc etc.

Re: The endlessness of Pink Floyd

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 8:45 pm
by Adam Blake
Yes but one person's facile banality is another's profundity. I remember sniggering at someone who had requested "Stairway To Heaven" be played at their funeral - and then realising that I was the twat, not them. They genuinely loved the song, and it mattered that much to them.

Tarkovsky's films are beautiful to me. I never liked Dali much, though.

Thinking about this today, I had the sobering thought that maybe these Pink Floyd songs have come to occupy a similar place in the culture to Beethoven's "Fur Elise" or Chopin's funeral march, or, on a more cheerful note, Offenbach's "Can Can" or David Rose's "The Stripper" - ie, they are genuinely popular music and have survived as such for two or three generations and may continue to do so indefinitely. That I may think they are facile or banal merely marks me as a snob. What I do think is interesting, my original question (echoing MacDonald's of twenty years ago) is how can such depressing, doomy music be so popular across the ages?

Re: The endlessness of Pink Floyd

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 9:37 pm
by Garth Cartwright
Depressing, doomy songs have always been popular - think of Albioni's Requiem or the Shangri Las Leader Of The Pack, most indie rock, all goth, much metal, lots of country and blues, many a Miles Davis album etc. A great song like Happy is a rarity. We all like a good sulk. For the record, i have never owned Dark Side Of The Moon. I certainly heard it a lot at other teenage boys homes and that inured me from ever listening to such dross again. "Money... bread..." I can still hear it in my head and it still gives me the creeps.

Re: The endlessness of Pink Floyd

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 10:39 pm
by Adam Blake
Garth Cartwright wrote: For the record, i have never owned Dark Side Of The Moon.


Heaven forfend! I certainly did. And "Tubular Bells". But teenage boys will be teenage boys (especially if they're middle class and went to grammar school, eh?) I also had "Funky Nassau", Joni Mitchell's 1st album and various 78s by Muggsy Spanier, but I claim a musician's right to be sui generis.

What's to be done with all those millions of people who attach meaning and significance to lyrics such as "money, it's a hit, don't give me that do goody good bullshit"...? Educate them, of course, which is what I try to do.

Re: The endlessness of Pink Floyd

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:50 pm
by Rob Hall
Adam Blake wrote:but I claim a musician's right to be sui generis.

I was a secondary mod kid myself, and I keep meaning to look this up, but while I'm here I might as well ask: what exactly does 'sui generis' mean?

Re: The endlessness of Pink Floyd

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:52 pm
by Adam Blake
Sui generis is a Latin phrase, meaning "of its own kind/genus" and hence "unique in its characteristics".

Re: The endlessness of Pink Floyd

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 9:03 am
by DavidM
I think Andy's comparison with Salvador Dali is a good one. There is enough of the exotic and strange in his work, matched with brilliant execution, to appeal to people's curiosity in the same way that Pink Floyd's psychedelia does; "facile banalities pretending to be profound". Both of them are hugely popular, nevermind whether there's a coherent artistic vision underneath it all. That might come later, if it comes at all. But for me, too, just like Adam, it was a way in when I was young and didn't know any better.

Re: The endlessness of Pink Floyd

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 10:56 am
by AndyM
I also think Pink Floyd devotees respond to the slowness, joylessness, pessimism, doominess and lack of humour in their music. All qualities people misread as 'deep'.

Re: The endlessness of Pink Floyd

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 11:26 am
by Adam Blake
AndyM wrote:I also think Pink Floyd devotees respond to the slowness, joylessness, pessimism, doominess and lack of humour in their music. All qualities people misread as 'deep'.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdFOgLyk6Qs

Re: The endlessness of Pink Floyd

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 12:24 pm
by AndyM
Almost funny for ten seconds, goes on faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar too long. A microcosm of their career.

Also, borderline animal abuse.

Re: The endlessness of Pink Floyd

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 12:39 pm
by NormanD
Nah, far too much analysis. Younger people might like their music for precisely the reason said above: they're new to them, melodic, a bit dreamy, and a bit portentous - and exactly like Will says, they're a discovery.

Why should anyone have to feel a need to justify or explain what they listened to and enjoyed forty years ago? It was around, it was good, and don't forget what other dreck was being played then. Today's no different.

Seamus The Dog was good. Thanks Adam, a new one on me. Animal abuse? Don't be daft. If he had an agent and a manager, now that would be animal abuse.