Brain Damage (song)

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This article is about the Pink Floyd song. For the Eminem song, see The Slim Shady LP.
"Brain Damage"
Song by Pink Floyd from the album The Dark Side of the Moon
Published World Copyrights Ltd
Recorded June 1972 – January 1973,
Abbey Road Studios, London
Genre Progressive rock
Length 3:48
Label Harvest
Writer Roger Waters
Producer Pink Floyd
The Dark Side of the Moon track listing

"Brain Damage" is the ninth track[nb 1] from English rock band Pink Floyd's 1973 album, The Dark Side of the Moon.[1][2] It was sung on record by Roger Waters, who would continue to sing it on his solo tours. David Gilmour sang the lead vocal when Pink Floyd performed it live on their 1994 tour (as can be heard on Pulse). The band originally called this track "Lunatic" during live performances and recording sessions. This song was one of several to be considered for the band's "best of" album, Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd.[3]

Composition[edit]

When the band reconvened after the American leg of the Meddle tour, Roger Waters brought with him a prototype version of "Brain Damage" along with other songs such as "Money". He had been playing the song during the recording of the Meddle album in 1971, when it was called "The Dark Side of the Moon". Eventually this title would be used for the album itself. The song seemed to be partially inspired by their former band member Syd Barrett who had endured a mental breakdown. After road testing, the new suite entitled "A Piece for Assorted Lunatics", the song was recorded in October along with "Any Colour You Like". The piece represents Waters' association with acoustic-tinged ballads, and along with "If" and "Grantchester Meadows", "Brain Damage" uses a simple melody and delivery. David Gilmour actively encouraged Waters to sing the song, even though at this time he wasn't particularly confident about his vocal abilities.

The song is somewhat slow, with a guitar arpeggio pattern similar to The Beatles' "Dear Prudence". It is in the key of D major and features a recurring lyrical pattern and chorus.

Themes[edit]

Roger Waters has stated that the insanity-themed lyrics are based on former Floyd frontman Syd Barrett's mental instability, with the line "I'll see you on the dark side of the moon" indicating that he felt related to him in terms of mental idiosyncrasies. The line "And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes..." references Barrett's behaviour near the end of his tenure with the band; because of his mental problems, there were more than a few occasions where Barrett would play a different song than the rest of the band in the middle of a concert. The song has a rather famous opening line, "The lunatic is on the grass...", whereby Waters is referring to areas of turf which display signs saying "Please keep off the grass" with the exaggerated implication that disobeying such signs might indicate insanity. The lyrics' tongue-in-cheek nature is further emphasised by Waters' assertion in the 2003 documentary Classic Albums: Pink Floyd – The Making of The Dark Side of the Moon that not letting people on such beautiful grass was the real insanity. Waters said that the particular patch of grass he had in mind when writing the song was to the rear of King's College, Cambridge.

The German literary scholar and media theorist Friedrich Kittler attaches great relevance to the song, referring to its lyrics as well as to its technological arrangement. For him, the three verses stage the (sound) technological evolution from mono to stereo, culminating in total, "maddening" surround sound.[4]

"I'll see you on the dark side of the Moon"[edit]

This song is often mistakenly referred to as "The Dark Side of the Moon" alongside "Eclipse" because the two run together and are commonly played together on the radio, giving the impression that they are one song. The incorrect title is derived from the recurring lyric "I'll see you on the dark side of the Moon", the latter half of which is the album's title.

Personnel[edit]

with:

  • Lesley Duncan – backing vocals
  • Doris Troy – backing vocals
  • Barry St. John – backing vocals
  • Liza Strike – backing vocals

The uncredited manic laughter is that of Pink Floyd's then-road manager, Peter Watts.[5]

References[edit]

Footnotes
  1. ^ Some CD pressings merge "Speak to Me" and "Breathe".
Citations
  1. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2004). The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate Books. p. 1177. ISBN 1-84195-551-5. 
  2. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X. 
  3. ^ Guthrie, James. "James Guthrie: Audio: Building A Compilation Album". Pink Floyd. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  4. ^ Friedrich Kittler: "Der Gott der Ohren", in: id. Draculas Vermächtnis, Reclam Verlag, Leipzig 1993, p. 130-148.
  5. ^ Mabbett, Andy (2010). Pink Floyd – The Music and the Mystery. London: Omnibus,. pp. 160p. ISBN 978-1-84938-370-7. 

Further reading[edit]