Isbel Diaz Torres
HAVANA TIMES — It was a little strange for me to learn that one of Pink Floyd’s best albums — The Dark Side of the Moon — is marking its 40th anniversary this year. To me, this music seems like it reaches back ten centuries into the past and will be around for another ten centuries in the future.
I was studying at the University of Havana in the 90s when I heard it for the first time. Actually, most of the rock I’m familiar with now is what I heard back then. It’s difficult to follow the development of that musical style when its initial works were so complete and perfect.
Despite the many fantastic things that I’ve heard since then, very few have been able to simultaneously arouse in me such aesthetic ecstasy, political acumen and tenderness as occurred with The Dark Side… (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), or with The Wall (1979).
The Lunatic Is on the Grass
The perfect blending of the voices of Richard Wright and David Gilmour when it comes to harmony, the overwhelming melodic and recurring shifts repeated from song to song and even from CD to CD as the leitmotiv, the risky and functional use of innovative technologies with which Alan Parsons developed various sounds segments on the album, make the work by these lunatics unique and endearing.
A great American friend of mine once told me that, despite the genius of Pink Floyd, she found their music depressing for the sense of sadness and acidity of many of its songs.
“You Shout and No One Seems to Hear”
Notwithstanding, I always found that music energizing, with reminisces of soul, galactic, and psychedelic music – symphonic and intimate at the same time. The pain felt in that adolescent cry and in the iconoclastic irony didn’t drive me to depression, but to rebellion.
“Money, it’s a crime. / Share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie”
Actually, my rebellion was rather discreet, barely more than at a personal level. At that time I decided to publicly acknowledge my homosexuality, I recognized the stagnation of the Cuban Young Communist League (of which I was a member), and I resisted following the fashion trends of youth of that time. Instead I started doing things like reading and writing poetry – admittedly things of little impact at the societal level.
Nonetheless, this was my personal rebellion, which was distant from any school and political indoctrination, and The Dark Side was part of that.
Of course, you shouldn’t think that “the youth universe” (to use “Communist” phraseology) listened to Pink Floyd or anything like that. Rock music was (and still is) popular only among a minority, even more so in the ‘90s.
“Money, so they say / is the root of all evil today.
But if you ask for a raise it’s no surprise that they’re / giving none away”
By the second half of that dismal decade for the island, we had already turned the corner. People started giving up their preferences for “deep and complex” works and they moved into the current hedonistic phase in which we Cuban find ourselves mired today.
With the boom of salsa to the boom of reggaeton, the nose dive in tastes has left trova and rock way behind. Listening to Buena Fe (a band I love) seems to be the most we can expect from young people these days.
The Dark Side, the eighth album by the British group, was on the charts for more than 15 years. It sold more than 50 million copies (historically, one of the most sold worldwide), but my teenage nephew has never heard it.
On and off the island, new rock bands constantly appear and disappear. I don’t follow them. I have no way to, nor do I have the time. The Dark Side of the Moon gives me enough of a charge, and with it I go back on forth on the P-5 bus while the reggaeton hit “El Yonki” fruitlessly hits my ears.
“And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.”