So by now everyone knows about Darkside of the Rainbow, the strange synchronicity that occurs when you watch WIZARD OF OZ and listen to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Carl Jung defined this phenomenon as one in which coincidental events "seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality." Even though I will argue you to death that Dorothy and Friends really do skip the yellow brick road in time to the music and 2 ½ times though the album Dorothy wakes up right as ‘Home, Home Again’ is sung, detractors decry the marvels of this synergy as apophenia, or confirmation bias. To them, the Darkside of the Rainbow dork (i.e. me) focuses on matching moments while ignoring the greater number of instances where the film and the album do not correspond at all.
Wherever you stand on that occurrence, another Pink Floyd synchronicity exists, and may actually be closer to being based in reality. This week is the 50th anniversary of the release of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, and you can celebrate by synchronizing the last 23 minutes of the film (Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite) with your copy of Pink Floyd’s Meddle. For those of you who only own the two albums standard issued to you in college (Dark Side and The Wall), Meddle is the 1971 masterwork that laid the ground work for what people think of as ‘classic’ Pink Floyd. It features the amazing instrumental opener 'One of These Days (I’m Going to Cut You Into Little Pieces)' and closes with the 23 minute long epic 'Echoes'.
Hmmm…. 23 minutes did you say? If you start 'Echoes' on the first frame of the title for Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite, the music and film match up not just picturewise, but – more importantly I think – tone and atmosphere. I call this mash-up “Jupiter and the Echoes of the Infinite.” Watch it and be f-ing amazed.
But let’s make it weirder… it's actually possible this was intended. Floyd’s first album included such space jams as 'Astronome Domine' and 'Interstellar Overdrive.' Pink Floyd also provided an instrumental piece called 'Moonhead' to the BBC coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. So they were in the same headspace as Kubrick. The director, according to Jeremy Bernstein, who interviewed him several times during filming, “had listened to almost every modern composition available on records in an effort to decide what style of music would fit the film. Here, again, the problem was to find something that sounded unusual and distinctive but not so unusual as to be distracting.” That certainly sounds like it might describe Floyd. So did Kubrick ask? Unlikely, as at the time 2001 was being made, Floyd had only released two singles. Although, as Kubrick’s wife was an avid radio listener and had suggested songs to him in the past, it is possible. If he did ask them, it didn’t happen.
So why does the music sync up, if not just apophenia? Kubrick is on record asking Floyd to score or supply music for A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1972). At the time, Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother was #1 on the UK charts and Kubrick wanted that music in the film. You can even see it in the record store scene of the film. Of course, 2001 came out before Meddle and its side-long composition 'Echoes' was recorded. But it is possible that, the movie already out, the offer on the table for CLOCKWORK, Pink Floyd sat down to see what it might be like to score a Kubrick film. At the time, Floyd had already done the score for two other films, MORE and ZYBRISKIE POINT and were set to do one more, OBSCURED BY CLOUDS, after Meddle. So they knew how to compose to image.
The first mention of the 2001 – Floyd connection is the 1991 Nicholas Schaffner book A Saucerful Of Secrets, where he wrote “Roger Waters, yet to balk at the sci-fi association, went so far as to say his 'greatest regret' was that they didn't do the score for 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY -- parts of which, particularly in the long, mind-blowing hallucinatory sequence near the end, nonetheless sound remarkably Floydian...” Did he regret it because they were asked and turned it down? Or is it just regret in hindsight. They did in fact turn down Kubrick using Atom Heart Mother in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, which seems a particularly stupid decision.
So is there an actual intentional connection between the two pieces? I’d like to say the world may never know, but it seems pretty unlikely. Even more spectacular, 'Echoes' also matches up pretty amazingly with the Jodie Foster film CONTACT, right as she makes contact with the aliens – start the song just before Jodie is reunited with her boyfriend Matthew McConaughey in Japan.