Album Synchronicity: a Guide to a Favorite Stoner Hobby
Now, you may be saying, “That’s great, but what else have they done that can actually benefit me, personally? I’m a law-abiding, middle-income soccer mom who drives a minivan and cried at the end of Toy Story 3. Have stoners contributed anything to my life?”
Why, of course they have. Although no one is entirely sure exactly who discovered this particular phenomena, it seems like a fair assumption to conclude that stoners are the group of people most directly responsible for our modern culture’s awareness of a little something called album synchronicity, and let us assure you, it is a wonderful (or at least, ya know, interesting) way to pass the time with family and friends.
Perhaps you have heard of the most famous example, known commonly as the Dark Side of the Rainbow effect.
Basically, here’s the idea: although various video and DVD releases have complicated matters slightly, what you want to do is begin watching the beloved fantasy classic The Wizard of Oz. Before the opening credits, the famous MGM lion will appear on the screen.
Just as it roars for the third time, start listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, a seminal concept album about madness, the alienating nature of modern society, and, like, totally expanding your mind, man. According to proponents of the album synchronicity concept, as you watch the film, various events on screen will correspond with the music and lyrics from the album.
For example, early on in The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is no more than a bored farm girl, forever trapped in black and white world. As she wanders her surroundings, she climbs atop a fence and begins walking along it, just as the lyrics “balanced on the biggest wave” are sung, followed by the lyrics “you’ll race towards and early grave,” which are accompanied by the image of Dorothy falling off of the fence.
In the next scene, the Kansas-equivalent of the Wicked Witch of the West arrives on her bicycle, just as the clocks from the song “Time” are going off. This is an instance where, although the song does not literally correspond to what is occurring in the movie, stoners insist that the sound effects are entirely appropriate for the scene.
Later, during the musical number “If I Only Had a Brain,” the song “Brain Damage” is playing. At the end of the album, when the songs fade out and all that is left is the sound of a heartbeat, Dorothy is seen with her head to the Tin Man’s chest, listening for that very sound.
Although those are some of the more notable examples of how the effect manifests itself, there are websites listing scores of synchronicities between the album and the movie.
Of course, this brings us to the question everyone has: who on Earth discovered this type of thing in the first place? What guy was sitting around in his basement, and, unable to decide whether he should listen to Dark Side of the Moon or watch The Wizard of Oz, decided, whatever, he’d simply do both at the same time, only to discover this bizarre effect? The honest answer is that, well, no one knows. But if you want to say marijuana hasn’t given anything of value to the world…well, you are probably right about that. We can’t tell you that this whole concept is really valuable to anyone. But, hey, it’s very entertaining, and it has attracted a legion of followers. Literally. Although there are many who just casually test out the idea, others are ridiculously devoted to it, going so far as to suggest that it is no mere coincidence, but that the members of Pink Floyd intentionally constructed the album so that it would synchronize with The Wizard of Oz. Like, c’mon, man, it is definitely not a coincidence that the most famous song from that movie is “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and the cover of Pink Floyd’s album depicts a beam of light hitting a prism and turning into… all the colors of the rainbow. Yeah, smoke on that for a while.
Never mind the fact, of course, that such an undertaking would be akin to the musical equivalent of the Manhattan Project. Not only would the band still be under pressure to compose interesting, enjoyable songs that would sell albums, they would also be forced to match every single moment on the album with something that occurs in the movie. They couldn’t write lyrics that were meaningless, but at the same time, the lyrics had to mirror the events on screen. The tempo of each song had to be perfect, not only so that it was something people would want to listen to them, but also so that the music corresponded perfectly with the film. For an album about all the ways people can go insane, it seems like such a project would most certainly drive its creators up the walls.
And, for the record, they deny that they ever intended the effect at all. In fact, members who have commented on the Dark Side of the Rainbow effect are so dismissive of it that they claim to never having even tried testing it, not even out of slight curiosity.
Still, that hasn’t prevented the concept from becoming a major pop culture in-joke. Around the world, independent movie theatres have been known to screen The Wizard of Oz, with Dark Side of the Moon substituted in as the soundtrack. Hell, even the television station Turner Classic Movies did it once.
As a result of this craze, other, more ambitious stoners, have tried to identify other cases of the phenomena. Some have suggested that an earlier Pink Floyd album, Echoes, matches up with Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, a theory supported by the fact that Kubrick originally approached the band to score the film. More modern examples include Metallica’s self-titled release, more commonly known as “The Black Album,” synching up with The Matrix, and Nirvana’s Nevermind synching up with the thriller Memento.
In fact, there are entire websites devoted to making DVDs of these synchronicities and selling them to the kind of people who are interested enough to spend their hard-earned money on them. Then again, these are the same people who spend their hard-earned money on copious amount of marijuana, so they aren’t exactly going to be making the most financially sound purchases in the first place.
As far as a rational explanation goes, those who think that there is some kind of conspiracy among popular rock music artists who are designing their albums specifically so that they match up with famous fantasy and sci-fi films are probably not on the right track, although they’ve convinced a surprisingly large number of people that such is the case. The most plausible and accepted theory is that it is merely a psychological effect that seems to be naturally occurring in most human beings, specifically our tendency to identify patterns where none actually exist. You know, like John Nash did in A Beautiful Mind.
But hey, we don’t want to take any of the magic out of the experience. Dark Side of the Moon is a brilliant album, The Wizard of Oz is a classic, and the two together will blow your mind. Apparently.
Know some more albums and movies that totally sync up? Looking to call shinannigans on the whole thing? Post a comment below!