Rethinking Pink Floyd


I was too young to connect with Pink Floyd in the late 60s or 70s the way others did. When they released the film of The Wall, I was frightened by it (the scene with kids falling into a meat grinder), and when I got around to seeing it as a teenager, I was still frightened by it. It felt like a bad stew of bad feelings, with a drugged-up wrapper of cool, something you graduate to, sold as T-shirts at the Fair, worn by kids with jean jackets, smoking.

Discovering drugs and Pink Floyd kind of go together. I’m not sure either take you to a good place; they just take you away. My passport is pretty full of places I’ve been and I’d like to think it’s made me better somehow, but probably not. The drugs would have you think that.

So I thought I knew all there was to know about Pink Floyd until our recent family roadtrip down the Oregon coast, into the California Redwoods, and back.

We stopped in Portland to spend a night with my friend Loren, who made me a mix CD from the Obscured by Clouds era, pre-Dark Side of the Moon, 1972.

I saved the CD for that first morning drive to a new destination, leaving Oregon and heading south along the coast, a Monday morning for those who had to work, with a hint of autumn in the angle of the sun and our windshield, the leaves just starting to turn.

Perhaps any music would have sounded just perfect driving the 101 with views opening of the Pacific and cliffs leading down to unnamed beaches, below. This record has moments of soft acoustic guitar, piano, and moody vocals that can carry you off wherever you need to go, unassisted.

And isn’t that why we turn to books or movies, to lose ourselves, and get away? Like a real trip, going away helps ground us, puts us back in touch by breaking our routine. We have to go outside ourselves to see who we really are.

It’s an easier re-entry than coming off a high, costs less, and no one gets hurt. Like most things you think might be better amplified under a distorted lens, it actually performs well on its own, too. Maybe better.

Categories: music

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3 replies

  1. Music always provides strong memory triggers/escape for me. I remember watching The Wall while drinking (rather heavily) with my Army buddies. Apparently drugs are required to keep my attention, as I drifted off midway. It’s like listening to the Doors – time must be suspended psychotropically – how else do you listen to a song that goes on for ten minutes?


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