This began as a piano piece Rick Wright came up with while working on the soundtrack to the 1970 movie Zabriskie Point. It didn't make the soundtrack, but they worked with it at the Dark Side of the Moon sessions and it eventually became this song. The director of Zabriskie Point, Michelangelo Antonioni, rejected the song for being "beautiful, but too sad... it makes me think of church."
Zabriskie Point was one of the first soundtracks Pink Floyd worked on. They put a lot of work into it, but the director ended up using only 3 of their songs. Floyd also worked on soundtracks for the movies More, The Valley, and Tonight Let's All Make Love In London.
The band refereed to this as "The Violence Sequence" because they worked on it for a very violent scene in the movie.
Dave Gilmour sings lead, but this song was written by Roger Waters and Pink Floyd keyboard player Rick Wright. Some of Wright's other songwriting credits include "Breathe," "Great Big Gid In The Sky," and "One Of These Days," but by the late '70s Waters ended up doing most of the writing himself, and he wrote all the songs on their 1983 album The Final Cut. Talking about Wright's compositions, Waters said in a 2003 interview with Uncut: "He would write odd bits. He secreted them away and put them on those solo albums he made and were never heard. He never shared them. It was unbelievably stupid. I never understood why he did that. I'm sure there were two or three decent chord sequences. If he'd given them to me, I would have been very, very happy to make something with them."
One of Pink Floyd's first uses of female backup singers. They brought in Liza Strike, Leslie Duncan and Doris Troy to sing harmonies. Troy had a hit on her own with "Just One Look."
Like other songs on the album, this contains the ramblings of random voices. Roger Waters made flashcards with questions on them and recorded different people around the studio answering them. He showed one to a weird roadie for another band named Roger The Hat, who got the question "When was the last time you thumped somebody." His answer made it onto this song, which is the part about giving someone a "short, sharp shock."
Along with "Money
," this was one of 2 songs on the album to use a sax, which was played by Dick Parry.
The engineer for the album was Alan Parsons
, who also worked on The Beatles' Abbey Road
album. Some of the production techniques on this are similar to the suite of songs at the end of that album, especially "Sun King
." Parsons went on to form his own band called The Alan Parsons Project, which had a hit in 1982 with "Eye In The Sky
Pink Floyd's record company was originally hesitant to release this track because it was felt that the signature melody line was extremely depressing.
Joe - Piscataway, NJ
In the Dark Side of the Rainbow theory (that Dark Side of the Moon
acts as a soundtrack to The Wizard Of Oz
), the line, "And who knows which is which and who is who," occurs after the Wicked Witch of the West appears and she is first seen with Dorothy and Glinda, the good witch on the opposite side of the screen.
Adrian - Brookings, SD
When this was recorded, Rick Wright played the song's jazz-influenced grand piano to what he thought was the rest of the band playing in the next studio. In fact they weren't present and it was a recording made earlier. What started as a prank became, according to Alan Parsons in Mojo magazine, "one of the best things Rick ever did."