Call it Dark Side of the Rainbow. Classic rockers are buzzing about the
amazingly weird connections that leap off the screen when you play Pink
Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" as the soundtrack to "The Wizard of Oz."
It sounds wacky, but there really is a bizarre synchronization there.
The lyrics and music join in cosmic synch with the action, forming
dozens Upon dozens of startling coincidences -- the kind that make you go
"Oh wow, man" even if you haven't been near a bong in 20 years. Consider
these examples: Floyd sings "the lunatic is on the grass" just as the
Scarecrow begins his floppy jig near a green lawn. The line "got to keep
the loonies on the path" comes just before Dorothy and the Scarecrow
start traipsing down the Yellow Brick Road.
When deejay George Taylor Morris at WZLX-FM in Boston first mentioned
the phenom on the air six weeks ago, he touched off a frenzy. "The
phones just blew off the wall. It started on a Friday, and that first
weekend you couldn't get a copy of 'TheWizard of Oz' anywhere in
Boston," he said. "People were staying home to check it out." It's fun,
he said, because everyone knows the movie,and the album which spent a
record-busting 591 straight weeks on the Billboard charts, can be found
in practically every record collection.
Dave Herman at WNEW-FM in New York mentioned the buzz a few weeks ago.
The response -- more than 2,000 letters -- was the biggest ever in the
deejay's 25-year on-air career. "It has been just unbelievable," said
WNEW program director Mark Chernoff. "I've never seen anything like
this." The station plans to show the movie using the album as soundtrack
at a small private screening tomorrow.
Rock fans always have loved to speculate about hidden messages in their
favorite albums. But seeking connections between the beloved 1939
classic kid flick and the legendary 1973 acid-rock album pushes the
envelope of the music conspiracy genre. Nobody from the publicity-shy
band would comment, but Morris asked keyboardist Richard Wright about it
on the air last month. He looked flummoxed and said he'd never heard of
any intentional connections between the movie and the album. But the
fans aren't convinced it's just a cosmic coincidence.
"I'm a musician myself and I know how hard it is just to write music,
let alone music choreographed to action," said drummer Alex Harm, of
Lowell, Mass.,who put up one of the two Internet web pages devoted to
the synchronicities. "To make it match up so well, you'd have to plan
it." Morris is convinced that ex-frontman Roger Waters planned the whole
thing without letting his fellow band members in on the secret. "It's
too close. It's just too close. Look at the song titles. Look at the
cover. There's something going on there," Morris said.
Here's how it works. You start the album at the exact moment when the
MGM lion finishes its third and last roar. It might take a few times to
get everything lined up just right. Then, just sit back and watch. It'll
blow your mind, man.
During "Breathe," Dorothy teeters along a fence to the lyric: "balanced
on the biggest wave." The Wicked Witch, in human form, first appears on
her bike at the same moment a burst of alarm bells sounds on the album.
During "Time," Dorothy breaks into a trot to the line: "no one told you
when to run." When Dorothy leaves the fortuneteller to go back to her
farm, the album is playing: "home, home again." Glinda, the cloyingly
saccharine Good Witch of the North, appears in her bubble just as the
band sings: "Don't give me that do goody goody bull---t." A few minutes
later, the Good Witch confronts the Wicked Witch as the band sings, "And
who knows which is which" (or is that "witch is witch"?). The song
"Brain Damage" starts about the same time as the Scarecrow launches into
"If I Only Had a Brain."
But it's not just the weird lyrical coincidences. Songs end when scenes
switch, and even the Munchkins' dancing is perfectly choreographed to
the song "Us and Them." The phenomenon is at its most startling during
the tornado scene, when the wordless singing in "The Great Gig in the
Sky" swells and recedes in strikingly perfect time with the movie. When
Dorothy opens the door into Oz, the movie switches to rich color and --
and that exact moment -- the album starts in with the tinkling cash
register sound effects from "Money."
Anyone who has ever nursed a hangover watching MTV with the sound off
and the radio on can tell you how quick the brain is to turn music into
a soundtrack for pictures. But this is uncanny. The real fanatics will
point out that side one of the vinyl album is the exact length of the
black-and-white portion of the movie. And then there's that iconic album
cover, with its prism and rainbow echoing the movie's famous
black-and-white-into-color switch -- not to mention Judy Garland's
classic first song.
The real clincher, though, the moment where even the most skeptical of
cynics has to utter a small "whoa!," comes at the end of the album,
which tails off with the insistent sound of a beating heart. What's
happening on screen? Yep, you guessed it: Dorothy's got her ear to the
Tin Man's chest, listening for a heartbeat. Maybe it's just a string of
coincidences. Maybe the mind is just playing some really cool tricks.
Maybe some people just have waaaay too much time on their hands. Or
maybe, as Pink Floyd sings to close out the album, everything under the
sun really is in tune.
Stare into the subliminal for as long as you can.
-- They Might Be Giants