The Album That Changed My Life

I was around 13 years old when a particular album changed my life. Pretty bold statement, I know. Maybe a little hyperbolic too.

At that point in my life, I was obsessed with hard rock; particularly that of the 70s and 80s variety. Aerosmith and Guns N Roses dominated my CD player (remember those?) and occupied every waking hour. Something about the raw power and swagger of those bands captured my adolescent attention. Basically, if it didn't rock hard, I didn't like it. Nowadays, I pride myself on listening to a wide variety of music, but back then, I was just a dumb stubborn kid (maybe I'm still a little stubborn).

And then, I listened to Dark Side of the Moon. Cliche? Screw you.

I had always heard of Pink Floyd, but never really gave them a dedicated listen. So when I was perusing the vast array of CDs at Wal-mart or wherever, I came upon that amazing prism/rainbow front cover. I've heard how incredible this album is, I thought. Oh what the hell, I'll get it. I got back to my dad's house, barricaded myself into my room, and inserted the disc into my massive stereo.

Amidst the protests from my family that I turn it down (that fell on deaf ears), that now-familiar heartbeat began bumping from the speakers. Some spoken words, random sound effects, and a man screaming were the sounds that met my ears. What the hell is this? This is weird. That man screaming built up to a crescendo, and the band dropped into a glorious mid tempo groove. It felt like I was gliding on a cloud at dusk. Beautiful slide guitar melodies appeared next and then the words Breathe, breathe in the air/don't be afraid to care greeted me with open arms.

Over the next 40-odd minutes, my mind proceeded to be blown. I had never heard anything so cool, melodic, emotional, and poignant. The lyrics made me think, and the music made me cry. David Gilmour's guitar oozed soulful beauty from every bent note and Rick Wright's keyboards grazed the outskirts of space with their laid back textures. Roger Water's lyrics successfully captured the madness and difficulty of life and Nick Mason wrapped it all together with his tuneful, groovy drumming.

This album blew up any preconceived notion of what music had to be. Music wasn't just about buzzsaw guitars, raucous drumming, and lyrics about girls and cars. You didn't have to scream at the top of your lungs and jump around on stage. You could sing about serious subjects. You could do anything you wanted. You could even play extremely slow songs (whoa). Maybe it helped it me grow up and be more mature? (I skipped my high school psychology class the whole semester so I don't know)

I'm sure everyone and their mother has listened to this incredibly popular album. I know I'm not exactly scratching the bottom of some snobby Pitchfork blog about Portuguese indie-folk girl groups on the rise. But if you've never listened to Dark Side of the Moon, or haven't given it a spin in forever, do yourself a favor and listen. It changed my life.


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