Thursday, March 12, 2009

Early Morning Music Musings

One of my all time favorite albums is Pink Floyd's Dark side of the Moon, which, incidentally is the third best selling album of all time. This came out in 1973 and I was a sophomore in Glen Ridge High School in New Jersey. I've seen Pink Floyd live twice, attending the Animals and The Wall concerts. I still have the program from The Wall concert. The Animals one, for reasons I will not go into here, was lost the evening of the concert. There is quite the story around that though, but at least one of my children read this blog on occasion. Perhaps I've already said too much.

As usual, I digress from the task at hand which is to blog about my early morning experience! I awoke at 3 AM this day, and after visiting the bathroom could not get back to sleep. After 30 minutes of trying I decided to listen to some quiet music via my MP3 player in the hopes it would relax me enough to fall back to sleep.

While I have listened to this album many times since I lived in my parents house in 1973, it has been many, many years since I listened to it with headphones as I often did while living with my folks. I did this for two reasons, it sounded better (I could afford a decent set of headphones verses a decent set of speakers), and it prevented that shout of "Turn down that damn noise!" from the bottom of the stairs leading up to my room.

On one wall of my room, which was painted a dark blue that was neutral to black light, I had in red black light paint, written the words to the song Time from this album. When the black lights in the room were on at night the letters seemed to just float in the air as the walls reflected none of the black was very cool. Obviously I really like Pink Floyd and have for many years.

Listening this morning I was reminded that you absolutely need the headphones to truly appreciate the nuances of this album! Many studies have been done linking things to memory triggers. Smell, sound, sight, music being sound is a good memory trigger. The fact that I listed with headphones really brought this fact home to me as I had a real experience in this area this morning.

As I was listening to the songs Breathe, Time, and The Great Gig in the Sky, I was anticipating subtle notes, effects, and vocals seconds before they happened. These were ones you had to have the headphones (or ear buds in this case, a good pair of Skull Candy ones) to really pick out.

While I had not heard them probably since living in my parents house over 35 years ago, here I was remembering them before they occurred during this morning's listening.

THEN at one point, in the dark with my eyes closed, I actually felt like I was in the room at my parents house! I could feel the room grow larger.... see, in my minds eye in great detail with my eyes closed the layout of the room, sense the words of Time on the wall. If I reached out with my left hand, instead of hitting the wall in my Michigan bedroom I felt I would have encountered the doorknob to my old bedroom, I almost felt if I opened my eyes I might be back there.

It was quite the moving and enjoyable experience, and after listening to these three songs I was able to go back to sleep where I had a very vivid dream totally unrelated to the music!

Now, remembering this as I type it during lunch, I still feel the power of the experience and wonder....what would have happened if I had opened my eyes while feeling like I was back in my house on Washington Street in Glen Ridge......

Yes, of course I would have seen my tiny bedroom here in Michigan....but it is nice to dream once in awhile, is it not? To be back in the past 30 some years ago, to have my parents both alive again, to once again taste my Mom's home cooking.......ah!

Interesting footnote about my old bedroom, in addition to the words of Time on one wall, one of my friends, Dean Peterson had painted a large flaming Lynyrd Skynyrd (another group I saw live in concert) on one wall. I also had a few very good black light posters. Again in colors that could not be seen by the naked eye in daylight accented of certain areas in the room, such as window trim. On the ceiling, I had stars and such celestial objects painted in black light paint. The color of the ceiling and the stars was such that during the day with regular lighting you did not see them, when the black lights came was amazing. I spent a lot of time on that ceiling and friends often brought friends to see it, it was quite the experience. to come into the room, and have the black lights go on....and the stars come out. Even my parents were amazed by this, though of course my dad had to comment how there had to be a better use of my time......that was my dad!


David Louis Harter said...


That is indeed an excellent album. It is certainly one of my favorites.

I recall when the album was released: I managed a music store and received the album and had received the album earlier that day. I had just begun playing side 1 when I got a call from my drummer. He wished to have our usual rehearsal two hours early in order to amend a conflict in his schedule. I left "Dark Side of the Moon" playing while I gathered my music and guitar and exited my house. A girlfriend came to visit me while I was gone. Since she had a key to my house, she let herself in. It was a very dark, stormy night. It was raining very hard, and the thunder was extremely loud. My girlfriend settled into the sofa with a glass of wine. The combination of the sounds of the rain and thunder and the wine created an atmosphere wherein the music caused her to become very frightened. Each time the record came to the end of the music tracks, the turntable arm rose then descended upon the beginning of the album, and the music began anew. By the time I returned two hours later, she was in a catatonic state. It was not until the following day that she fully recovered. At that time, she mentioned that she had nibbled some hallucinogenic mushrooms prior to coming to my house. That relieved, to a great extent, my fear that Pink Floyd would cause people everywhere to go mad.

- David

Chris said...

David - Thanks for sharing the story with me. I've had similar experiences at house I used to live with the X before we were married. Let's just say the frat house in Animal House looked like an Amish place in comparison. The next weekend the kids are at their Mom's I plan to retie a bit early and listen to the whole album with my headphones on. Perhaps even follow it with Wish you Here, another one of my favorite albums.

David Louis Harter said...


Memories are excellent, and it is really wonderful how music can elicit memories.

- David