By Susan Sliwicki
Snowed in for the weekend? Want to get new entertainment from items you’ve already got in your collection? Need to entertain a pack of munchkins but want a more sophisticated twist for yourself? Test out the “Dark Side of the Moon”/“Wizard of Oz” urban legend.
We’ll be the first to admit the band’s “Dark Side of the Moon” album sounds best when heard on vinyl (topped only by a live performance, of course). But for this experiment, it’s more practical to use a CD, which is what we did. If you’re going to do this experiment with particularly young munchkins who shouldn’t hear a word like bulls**t, consider using headphones). Here’s how to make it work:
- Insert “Dark Side of the Moon” into your CD player; press play. Once the album starts to play, press pause, then press the track rewind to take you back to the very beginning of the first track.
- Set your CD player for album repeat.
- Start “The Wizard of Oz” DVD. We recommend going into the menu and choosing subtitles to play with the movie, because it lets the music to take the spotlight, but you can continue to follow the movie without getting distracted by spoken dialogue. Our DVD copy of the movie was free of pesky previews, so we could just select “play movie.”
- Wait for the black and white MGM lion to appear. Once he roars for the third time, hit play on the CD player. Press mute or turn down the volume on your TV (or crank up the volume in your headphones if others wish to watch the movie as it was originally made).
- Confirm the album and movie are in sync. According to eHow.com, when you see the credit “Produced by Mervyn LeRoy,” the credit should be fading amid the transition from “Speak to Me” to “Breathe.”
Note: Movie-viewing snacks for this experiment consisted of potato chips and decaf soda. Your results may vary based on the “refreshments” you choose (wink wink).
Urban legend claims that if you play Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” while watching “The Wizard of Oz,” there’s an incredible synchronicity that could only come about had the band literally planned the entire album around the movie.
Pink Floyd has denied the rumor outright for years, with Floyd drummer Nick Mason giving one of our favorite answers to MTV in 1997: “It’s absolute nonsense. It has nothing to do with ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ It was all based on ‘The Sound of Music.’”
OK. So those evil flying monkeys could be symbolic Nazis. But it sure seems like “Wizard of Oz” is a better fit — at least, hearing Roger Waters speak the line “I don’t know; I was really drunk at the time” while we gaze upon Munchkin Land seems like a pretty realistic reaction.
There are plenty of tidy thematic coincidences between “Wizard of Oz” and “Dark Side of the Moon.” The movie’s keynote song, “Over The Rainbow,” fits neatly with the iconic, light-splitting prism design used for the album’s cover art. The album boasts the song “Great Gig in The Sky,” which sounds like the perfect name for a song to go with a movie about a tornado.
For the most part, the biggest coincidences seem to show up on the first trek through the album. That may be due to greater familiarity (and, by extension, observational powers) of what’s going on in the movie and on the album. Or, it could be that writing an album to hold up through two and a half cycles isn’t exactly easy — or, possibly, wasn’t even done in the first place.
In our book, this urban legend lands somewhere between reading a horoscope and analyzing literature: There’s probably some truth in it somewhere, but finding the “truth” relies upon the user doing a lot of mental heavy lifting, and those theories may not match up with what the authors actually intended. Judge the coincidences for yourself.
Regardless, this was a fun way to spend a Saturday night. Warning: Even if you love “Dark Side,” you’ll probably want to have something else to listen to for a few weeks after doing this.
“SPEAK TO ME/BREATHE”
Music: “Don’t be afraid to care/Leave but don’t leave me.”
Movie: Dorothy shares Miss Gulch’s threats against Toto, but Auntie Em, who is sidetracked trying to tend to baby chicks and a broken incubator, snaps “Dorothy, we’re busy!”
Music: “Look around and choose your own ground”
Movie: Dorothy searches the farmyard for someone else to talk to and settles on the farmhands.
Music: “Long you live and high you fly/But only if you ride the tide/And balanced on the biggest wave/You Race towards and early grave.”
Movie: Dorothy is talking to Zeke and walking on the fence rail between two pigpens when she loses her balance and tumbles into the pigpen.
“ON THE RUN”
Music: Makes an abrupt change to the frenzied “On The Run” introduction.
Movie: Zeke races into the pigpen, rescues Dorothy, and, once they’re safely outside, sits down, wipes his brow and clutches his chest as he recovers from his fright. Auntie Em arrives with crullers, scolds Dorothy and the farmhands, and sets them — and herself — on the run to get the chores done.
Music: “On the Run” continues; you can hear the woman announcing flights at the airport.
Movie: Dorothy frets about Toto’s fate and fantasizes about running away to place you can’t get to by boat or train, which leads her to sing “Over The Rainbow.”
Music: What sounds like an airplane flying overhead and crashing at the very end of “On The Run”
Movie: Dorothy sings about how “… bluebirds fly/Birds fly over the rainbow.”
Music: The ticking clocks begin, and the alarm bell rings.
Movie: In time with the alarm bell, we see Miss Gulch bicycling to the farm, suggesting “time’s up” for Toto. The bells continue to ring as Miss Gulch pedals up to the farmhouse, and the clock chimes fade as she hops off her bike.
Music: An almost doorbell-like “ding-dong” chime sounds.
Movie: Uncle Henry opens the gate to let Miss Gulch in, in perfect time with the doorbell chime.
Music: The ticking and chiming introduction fades into the ominous opening tones of the song with it’s percussive emphasis
Movie: Dorothy, with Toto in her arms, pleading with Auntie Em and Uncle Henry for a stay of execution that will spare Toto. Miss Gulch insists produces and order that allows her to take Toto away. Dorothy tries to protect Toto, but Uncle Henry puts the dog into Miss Gulch’s basket.
Music: “Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town/Waiting for someone or something to show you the way”
Movie: Toto escapes from Miss Gulch’s bicycle basket, lands on a “piece of ground,” and runs back to the farm without anyone showing him the way.
Music: “Tired of lying in the sunshine, staying home to watch the rain/You are young and life is long, and there is time to kill today”
Movie: Toto returns to the farm and leaps through Dorothy’s window. Initially overjoyed to see her clever companion, Dorothy soon realizes they must run away.
Music: “And then one day you’ll find 10 years have got behind you/No one told you where to run, you missed the starting gun.”
Movie: Dorothy and Toto are viewed from behind, walking down the road and over the bridge toward Professor Marvel’s wagon. As the song “Time” continues, the camera fixes on Professor Marvel’s wagon, which advertises his focus on “Past, Present and Future” (all measures of time.)
Music: “The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older/shorter in breath but one day closer to death.”
Movie: Professor Marvel has Dorothy take a seat at his crystal ball, and he talks about Isis and Osiris. Isis is the Egyptian goddess worshiped as the ideal mother and wife and matron of nature and magic. Osiris, her brother-husband, was born to the god of the earth and goddess of the skies and was great-grandson to the Egyptian sun god, Ra; he later became god of the underworld. And, yeah, this may be a bit of a stretch in pop culture coincidence land, but if this was a research paper for a literature class, it’d totally be an arguable point. As the aging professor puts his turban on his head, “shorter in breath” is sung.
Music: “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way/The time is gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say” leading into the reprise of “Breathe.”
Movie: Dorothy is seated, eyes closed, desperately waiting for Professor Marvel to reveal all to her.
Music: “Home, home again/I like to be here when I can”
Movie: Professor Marvel shares his “vision” of Auntie Em back at home at the farm, crying because someone has broken her heart. Dorothy heads back for home.
“THE GREAT GIG IN THE SKY”
Music: The guitar cues up following the piano introduction.
Movie: We see the twister in the background.
Music: Spoken line: “And I am not frightened of dying, any time will do, I don’t mind. Why should I be frightened of dying? There’s no reason for it, you’ve gotta go sometime.”
Movie: The twister is getting ever closer as the farmhands let the horses loose, Auntie Em searches for Dorothy and Dorothy struggles to get home.
Music: The emotional vocal solo begins and picks up in intensity.
Movie: The storm builds, Auntie Em is shouting for Dorothy, Dorothy is panicking, trying to find Auntie Em, and the twister comes closer in the background. As the vocal solo hits its emotional peak, the window blows into Dorothy’s room and strikes her on the head.
Music: The piano interlude leads to a more mellow, soothing vocal solo. Movie: Dorothy drifts into dream world. When she wakes, the house is shown spinning, a woman in a rocker, a cow and a pair of fishermen in a rowboat drift past her window.
Music: “If you can hear this whispering, you are dying.” Vocal solo switches back to pick up intensity.
Movie: Miss Gulch (still on her bicycle) travels past the window and transforms to a broom-riding witch, and Dorothy hides her face in the blankets. The bed is moving around the room, and the house is dropping from the cyclone. As the “Great Gig In The Sky” phases out to soft vocalizations, the house thumps down.
Music: The opening cash register tones of “Money” begins.
Movie: Dorothy opens up the farmhouse’s front door to reveal Munchkin Land — in living color. The bassline kicks in as Dorothy starts to walk off of her porch, and the camera pans over the scenery, showing off exotic plants, a reflecting pool and houses.
Music: “Money get back”
Movie: Munchkins are behind Dorothy, whose back is turned, trying to find out more about this mysterious visitor.
Music: “Money it’s a hit/don’t give me that do-goody good bullshit/I’m in the hi-fidelity first class traveling set/And I think I need a Lear jet”
Movie: Glinda, good witch of the North, arrives at Munchkin Land in her colorful bubble.
Music: Sax solo
Movie: Dorothy announces that she knows she’s not in Kansas any more and explains to Glinda she’s not a witch at all, and neither is Toto.
Music: Guitar solo
Movie: Glinda announces the Munchkins are free; they start coming out of the bushes, trees, manholes and everywhere else to converge upon the center of town. Dorothy explains what happened in her journey and how she came to kill the Wicked Witch of the East — with a house.
Music: “Money, it’s a crime”
Movie: The munchkin marching band escorts Dorothy to a stylish coach and sing praises of her tidy murder: “We thank you very sweetly … You’ve killed her so completely.”
Music: “Money so they say/Is the root of all evil today”
Movie: The Munchkins sing “Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead,” and those lyrics land in time with the phrase “root of all evil.”
Music: “Away, away, away”
Movie: The munchkins sing “below, below, below” in describing where the wicked witch has gone away in death.
“US AND THEM”
Music: Instrumental introduction; as the guitar solo leads in.
Movie: Coroner (Team “Us”) provides a death certificate declaring the wicked witch (Team Them) to be “most sincerely dead.”
Music: “Us … Us… Us…”
Movie: The ballerinas of The Lullabye League (Team Us) enter to welcome Dorothy to Munchkin Land.
Music: “Black and blue”
Movie: The wicked witch, who is dressed in black and by virtue of being evil would be considered a dark character, arrives to the word “black.” and the camera pans back to Dorothy, who’s wearing a blue and white dress, in time with the word “blue.”
Music: “And who knows which is which and who is who”
Movie: The camera pans to all three witches (the dead witch under the house, the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda), and the surviving wicked witch turns to Dorothy and demands to know who killed her sister.
Music: “Up and down/And in the end it’s only round and round and round”
Movie: The witch looks up and down at her dead sister, and the ruby slippers go to Dorothy’s feet, with camera angles showing the slippers “round and round.”
Music: “Down … Down… Down…”
Movie: Dorothy looks down at the Yellow Brick Road
Music: “Out … Out … Out …”
Movie: Glenda disappears in her floaty ball of colored light
Music: “Out of the way it’s a busy day/I’ve got things on my mind”
Movie: Dorothy dances her way down the Yellow Brick Road, away from the Munchkins and on to the road to the Emerald City.
“ANY COLOUR YOU LIKE”
Movie: At the start of the song, Dorothy waves goodbye to the munchkins and makes her way down the Yellow Brick road, in perfect time with the music. She comes upon the scarecrow hung up in the field, they talk, she introduces herself and then helps him down.
Music: “The lunatic is on the grass/Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs/Got to keep the loonies on the path”
Movie: The scarecrow is singing and dancing, and in time with the lyric “keep the loonies on the path” he is shown dancing down the yellow brick road. Plus… the guy who keeps listing all he could do if “he only had a brain” is featured in a song called “Brain Damage.” You do the math.
Music: And if your head explodes with dark forbodings too/I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon”
Movie: Dorothy and Scarecrow do a whoop of excitement, decide they’re going to the Emerald City to see the Wizard together and dance off on the yellow brick road.
Music: “There’s someone in my head, but it’s not me”
Movie: The talking apple tree gets angry at Dorothy, who was picking apples to eat.
Music: All you create/all you destroy/all that you do/all that you say/all that you eat and everyone you meet
Movie: Dorothy and Scarecrow oil up the rusted Tin Man, who finally can speak and “meet” Dorothy and Scarecrow.
Music: “Everyone you fight”
Movie: Dorothy shakes the tin man’s right arm, which is holding his axe, in time with the music.
Music: The pulse-like drum sequence at the end of the song (sounds like a heartbeat)
Movie: The Tin Man explains to Dorothy and Scarecrow that he doesn’t have a heart.
SECOND TIME THROUGH THE RECORD
“SPEAK TO ME/BREATHE”
Music: Instrumental, thumping percussion that resembles a heartbeat
Movie: The Tin Man sings “If I Only had a Heart” to Dorothy and Scarecrow, telling them how he’d “be tender and be gentle” and the movie’s lyric of “a beat, how sweet” is in time with the drum rhythm of the album’s track.
Music: “Don’t be afraid to care”
Movie: Tin Man talks about going to get a heart
Music: “Leave but don’t leave me/Look around and choose your own ground
Movie: Dorothy asks Tin Man if he’d like to accompany her and Scarecrow to The Emerald City. As the camera “looks around,” we see the witch on top of the cottage’s roof.
Music: “Run rabbit run”
Movie: The witch throws a ball of fire at the Scarecrow to scare him; he catches fire and begins to frantically jump about; the Tin Man falls on the fire to smother it.
“ON THE RUN”
Music: The female voice at the airport announces departures.
Movie: The intrepid trio announces that they’re of to see the wizard and launches into the movie soundtrack song of the same bent.
Music: Running feet transitioning to eerie music.
Movie: Dorothy, Tin Man and Scarecrow are walking at an increasing pace, in fear of the haunted forest. As the music changes tone, Dorothy remarks how she doesn’t like how dark and creepy the forest is. The group starts chanting “Lions and tigers and bears” and picks up its pace to a bit of a run.
Music: Maniacal laughter
Movie: Cowardly lion roars onto the scene, trying to frighten the travelers and proceeds to threaten and chase them all. It’s the last straw for Dorothy when Lion picks on Toto.
Music: Alarm clock rings.
Movie: Dorothy tells the Lion he’s a coward; Lion admits he’s a coward and that sometimes, he even scares himself.
Music: The percussion section switches over to a “tick-tock” type of heartbeat rhythm.
Movie: The gang explains to the Lion they’re off to see the wizard to get the Tin Man a heart.
Music: “Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day/you fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way/Waiting for something or someonen to show you the way”
Movie: As the travelers head down the road, the wicked witch observes them through her crystal ball, announces she’ll poison a field of poppies nearby, which in turn will help her get the ruby slippers and achieve her destiny.
Music: “And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it’s sinking/and racing around to come up behind you again/The sun is the same in the relative way, but you’re older/shorter of breath and one day closer to death.”
Movie: With the Emerald City in sight, the travelers head through the field of poisoned poppies, unaware of the danger. Dorothy, Toto and Lion try to keep pace with the others but soon fall behind — then fall asleep — due to the poisoned poppies.
Music: “The time is gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say”
Movie: At the cries and pleas of Tin Man and Scarecrow, Glinda’s sends snow to fall on the poppy field to break the Wicked Witch’s spell and wake Dorothy, Toto and The Lion.
Music: “Home, home again”
Movie: Dorothy, Toto and the Lion wake up from their nap to discover the Tin Man rusted up again — this time from the snow.
Music: “Far away across the field/the tolling of the iron bell/calls the faithful to their knees/to hear the softly spoken magic spells”
Movie: The group finishes walking across the field toward the Emerald City. In time with the lyric, the Scarecrow falls to his knees while attempting to walk on the road with the others.
“GREAT GIG IN THE SKY”
Movie: The Wicked Witch hops on her broom, flies a few laps around her castle (fitting, given the song is called “Great Gig in the Sky” and heads off to the Emerald City to try to intercept the travelers. At the end of the track, she settles for threatening Dorothy by skywriting “Surrender Dorothy” with her broom.
Music: Double drumbeat just before vocal solo picks up again.
Movie: Dorothy knocks the knocker on the Emerald City’s gate door in perfect time.
Music: Hear the cash register working.
Movie: The travelers are talking about all the things they’ll be able to do when the wizard helps them.
“US AND THEM”
Music: Instrumental introduction
Movie: The group begins walking down the corridor to see the Wizard of Oz.
Music: “Us … Us … Us …”
Movie: Camera shows Dorothy and her traveling companions.
Music: “And Them … Them … Them…
Movie: The camera pans to the flamey-looking Wizard of Oz.
Music: “And after all we’re only ordinary men”
Movie: Shows the Tin Man quaking before the Wizard.
Music: “Me … Me … Me …”
Movie: Shows the Wizard
Music: “And You … You … You …
Movie: Shows the scarecrow, cowering in the Wizard’s presence.
Music: “Forward he cried from the rear and the front rank died”
Movie: The cowardly lion, next up front to chat with the Wizard, faints from fear. Dorothy begins scolding the wizard for being mean.
Music: “And the general sat, and the lines on the map/moved from side to side/Black and blue”
Movie: Like a general on a battlefield, the Wizard tells the travelers their mission in the fight against evil: They have to bring back the Wicked Witch’s broomsitck. When the word “blue” is sung, the color of the smoke around the Wizard’s color changes to blue.
Music: “Haven’t you heard it’s a battle of words/the poster bearer cried/Listen, son said the man with a gun/”
Movie: The group reads the warning about entering the haunted forest. As the words “the man with a gun” are sung, we see a gun in the scarecrow’s hand.
Music: Down and out/It can’t be helped but there’s a lot of it about
Movie: At the word “down,” the flying monkeys begin to drop down to the earth, and chase and capture Dorothy and Totly. They fly with her out of the forest, with Dorothy and the others screaming “Help.”
Music: “With, without/And who’ll deny it’s what the fighting’s all about”
Movie: As the evil monkey minions fly away with Dorothy and Toto, the now-disassembled Scarecrow explains to the others that he’s been torn apart in the fight and is without his legs, which are elsewhere in the forest.
Music: “For want of the price of a tea and a slice/The old man died”
Movie: The Wicked Witch tells Dorothy she wants the ruby slippers, when Dorothy declines, the witch orders Toto — the old man — to be drowned.
“ANY COLOUR YOU LIKE”
Movie: The flying monkeys back at the castle appear to throw spears perfectly in time with the music. As the wailing guitar solo crescendoes, Dorothy starts to cry. Throughout the course of the song, we see many changing colors: red sand in the hourglass, a purple crystal ball that changes colors to sepia (to show Auntie Em hunting for Dorothy), then red, green and purple again.
Music: “Got to keep the loonies on the path”
Movie: The witch’s soldiers are marching up the path to the gate of the witch’s great hall.
Music: “The lunatic is in the hall.”
Movie: The Scarecrow announces he has a plan to infiltrate the castle.
Music: “And if there is no room upon the hill”
Movie: A trio of the witches soldiers approach and invade the rocky expanse on the hill where our would-be heroes are esconsed.
Music: “The lunatic is in my head/You raise the blade, you make the change, you re-arrange me ‘til I’m sane
Movie: The heroes battle the blade-wielding soldiers and change into the soldiers’ clothing.
Music: “You lock the door and throw away the key”
Movie: The camera pans to the door of the castle, where Dorothy is locked away
Music: “And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes/I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon”
Movie: The heroes join up with a different band — the dark side — at the drawbridge gate to her castle. Once inside, they pull away from the group, and Toto leads them to the room where Dorothy is trapped.
Music: Bass drum thumps
Movie: Tin man uses his axe to chop at the door to free Dorothy.
Music: All that you love/all that you hate/all you distrust
Movie: the witch is threateningn Dorothy and her companions as the soldiers close in.
Music: All that you love, all that you hate, all you distrust
Movie: We see the switch threatinging dorothy and her traveling companions as the soldiers close in.
Music: “All you destroy”
Movie: The witch is talking about all the different ways she’s going to kill Dorothy and her friends.
Music: “All that you slight/and everyone you fight”
Movie: Dorothy’s friends are fighting the soldiers and trying to get out of the castle
Music: (Spoken lyric): “There is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark.”
Movie: We see our group running outside, in the dark, at night, trying to find a way out, until they’re cornered by the witch’s soldiers.
THIRD TIME THROUGH THE RECORD
“SPEAK TO ME/BREATHE”
Music: Heartbeat percussion tempo is pounding
Movie: The witch sets Scarecrow on fire. Dorothy grabs a pail of water to put out the blaze, and the water hits the witch, killing her
Music: Maniacal laughing
Movie: Toto and a flying monkey, who claps its hands, check out the now-empty witch’s hat and gown to determine the witch is really dead.
Music: “Breathe, breathe in the air/Don’t be afraid to care/Leave but don’t leave me”
Movie: Toto pulls back a curtain to reveal that the great and powerful Oz is nothing more than is a mere man behind a curtain.
“ON THE RUN”
Music: Plane flying overhead, making a crashing noise
Movie: The Wizard explains how his hot-air balloon failed to return to the fair and he wound up in Oz instead.
Music: The clock “alarm” goes off
Movie: All the citizens of the Emerald City throw their hands in the air to celebrate the pending balloon launch.
Music: Rhythmic percussion solo that sounds like a clock ticking
Movie: Toto jumps out of the balloon’s gondola to chase a cat; with time ticking away, Dorothy jumps out to grab Toto, and the balloon takes off without her.
Music: “Waiting for someone or something to show you the way”
Movie: Dorothy asks Glinda for help to get home, and Glinda explains to Dorothy that she’s always had the power to get where she needs to go.
Music: Wailing guitar solo
Movie: A tearful Dorothy says goodbye to her traveling companions.
Music: “The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older”
Movie: An older — and wiser — Dorothy clicks her heels and chants “there’s no place like home” as Glinda waves her star-shaped wand (the sun is a star, by the way) behind Dorothy’s head.
Music: “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way”
Movie: We’re back to Dorothy’s bedroom, seeing the scene in sepia tone, as her family anxiously, desperately waits around her bedside, hoping she’ll regain consciousness.
Music: “Hone, home again/I like to be here when I can”
Movie: Dorothy wakes up after saying “There’s no place like home” to see her Auntie Em, Uncle Henry and the farmhands surrounding her.
“GREAT GIG IN THE SKY”
Music: Vocal solo
Movie: As the solo picks up steam, Dorothy fervently promises she’ll never leave home again, and we see “The End” on the screen.