Brain Damage / Eclipse (as made famous by Pink Floyd)

“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 (with harmonies by David Gilmour), who would continue to sing it on his solo tours. 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.

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.

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.[3]

In a 2008 paper in Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges Fusar-Poli and Madini suggest that the song includes avant-garde techniques and philosophical lyrics can be approached and analysed from a psychological perspective. The line “Got to keep the loonies on the path” references the attempt to maintain order and establish sanity. The detached description of a lobotomy is demonstrated in line “You raise the blade, you make the change. You re-arrange me ’till I’m sane”. The line “I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon”, which became a famous metaphor of human irrationality, expresses that madness that is always present but invisible, waiting to be exposed. In Sigmund Freud’s terms it would be the unconscious.[4]

Some releases of Dark Side of the Moon, for example TC-SHVL. 804 (cassette, New Zealand release) and Q4SHVL 804(quad LP, UK release) have a different mix of “Brain Damage”. During the closing instrumental, beginning at about 3:02, after the second chorus and leading into the final track, “Eclipse”, only Peter Watts’ “lunatic laughing” is heard, repeatedly, unlike other versions which have the speech sample “I can’t think of anything to say”, then Peter Watts’ laugh and another sample “I think it’s nice (ha ha ha)”.[citation needed]

Roger Waters – bass guitar, lead vocals, tape effects
David Gilmour – electric guitars, harmony vocals
Richard Wright – Hammond organ, VCS3 synthesizer
Nick Mason – drums, tubular bells, tape effects
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]

“Eclipse” is the tenth[nb 1] and final track from British progressive rock band Pink Floyd’s 1973 album, The Dark Side of the Moon. It was sung by Roger Waters, with harmonies by David Gilmour and Rick Wright. After Waters left the band, Gilmour sang the lead when performing live. This song was one of several to be considered for the band’s “best of” album, Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd.[1]

This song serves as the album’s end and features a loud, repetitive melody that builds up, then ends with a very quiet outro. When the main instrumentation ends at 1:30, the sound of a heartbeat from the first track, “Speak to Me”, appears, which appears again in 9/8, and gradually fades to silence.

Harmonically, the song consists of a repeating 4-bar chord progression: D, D/C, B♭maj7, and A7sus4 resolving to A7. The bass line is a descending tetrachord.

David Gilmour recorded two tracks of rhythm guitar, playing arpeggios, one in open position, and one much higher, around the tenth fret. The lower-pitched guitar part includes the open G and E strings during the B♭maj7, resulting in an added sixth and a dissonant augmented fourth. The quartet of female backing singers vary their parts, rising in volume, and echoing some of Roger Waters’ lyrics, as the piece builds in intensity. On the last repetition of the chord progression, the B♭maj7 leads directly to a climax on D major, resulting in a “brightening” effect (known as the Picardy third), as the aforementioned implication of D minor in the B♭maj7 chord shifts to the major.[2][3]

Waters wrote the lyrics on the road for the “Brain Damage” / “Eclipse” closing sequence as he felt the whole piece was “unfinished”.[4] The final words sung on the song and, indeed the album The Dark Side of the Moon, directs the listener, “and everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.” Waters explained the meaning of these words as well as the entire song by asserting:

I don’t see it as a riddle. The album uses the sun and the moon as symbols; the light and the dark; the good and the bad; the life force as opposed to the death force. I think it’s a very simple statement saying that all the good things life can offer are there for us to grasp, but that the influence of some dark force in our natures prevents us from seizing them. The song addresses the listener and says that if you, the listener, are affected by that force, and if that force is a worry to you, well I feel exactly the same too. The line ‘I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon’ is me speaking to the listener, saying, ‘I know you have these bad feelings and impulses because I do too, and one of the ways I can make direct contact with you is to share with you the fact that I feel bad sometimes.[5]

The doorman of Abbey Road Studios, Gerry O’Driscoll, is heard speaking at 1:37, answering the question: “What is ‘the dark side of the moon’?” with: “There is no dark side in the moon, really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark. The only thing that makes it look light is the sun.”[6][7]

A section of an orchestral version of the Beatles song “Ticket to Ride” can be heard faintly at the very end of the recording. That was unintended: the music was playing in the background at Abbey Road when Gerry O’Driscoll was being recorded.[8] This is not included on the 1983 Japanese Black Triangle CD issue of the album or any FLAC remastered versions of the album; the sound technicians copied one of the heartbeat samples, removed the orchestral “Ticket to Ride”, repeatedly pasted the sample in and faded out the new outro.

Roger Waters – bass guitar, lead vocals
David Gilmour – electric guitars, backing vocals
Richard Wright – Hammond organ, backing vocals
Nick Mason – drums, bass drums, tape effects
Lesley Duncan – backing vocals
Doris Troy – backing vocals
Barry St. John – backing vocals
Liza Strike – backing vocals