Run rabbit run
Dig that hole, forget the sun
When at last the work is done
Don't sit down, it’s time to dig another one
- Breathe (In the Air)
This quote from "Breathe (In The Air)", the second track on Pink Floyd’s "The Dark Side of the Moon", captures the dark essence of monotony in modern expectations of work ethic, success, and occupation or employment. The quote most closely resembles a “stop and smell the flowers” mentality; it uses a fantastical metaphor of a rabbit, with a sense of urgency, digging hole after hole after hole without rest and without stopping to notice the beauty and energy of the overhead sun. Commanding the rabbit to dig, run, forget, and not to sit down, this lyric emulates the commands we receive from our mentors, parents, bosses, professors, and, ultimately, from a society that holds a high standard of success through difficult, ongoing work. It captures the monotony of typical habits of adulthood, encourages us to consider our daily routines, and asks us if we are truly getting anything meaningful out of lives we lead.
So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older
Shorter of breath, one day closer to death
In Floyd’s "Time", they tackle the daunting, unwavering, and omnipotent concept of time. This lyric describes how quickly time passes, and how the sun sets and rises each day, and will never wait for us to catch up. And with each day, the constants in our lives, like the sun, are similar “in a relative way,” but have changed because we have changed, and we look upon them differently. Metaphorically, Pink Floyd thus captures the idea put forth by Anaïs Nin – “We see things not as they are, but as we are.”
Day after day, love turns grey
Like the skin of a dying man
And night after night, we pretend it’s all right
But I have grown older and
You have grown colder and
Nothing is very much fun any more
And I can feel one of my turns coming on
I feel cold as a razor blade
Tight as a tourniquet
Dry as a funeral drum
- One of My Turns
One of the only Floyd songs evidently about love, "One of My Turns" is a powerful, dark, and rather morbid depiction of love as the “skin of a dying man,” aging and becoming grey with time. This lyric reminds us that not all love is eternal, and not to pretend that it is so. If we fail to see love as it is, something that can in fact expire, we shelter emotions which can cause tension in our minds, and suddenly burst from us as one of our turns. In this, Pink Floyd battles the standard of “perfect” or “true” love as applying to everyone; love is a spectrum, and it can also change, just as we can, with time.
Did you exchange a walk on part in a war for a lead role in a cage?
- Wish You Were Here
Again, the powerful words of Pink Floyd challenge us to consider the decisions we have made to shape our lives. In the timeless, sweeping, and beautiful classic Wish You Were Here, Floyd asks listeners if they have relinquished the possibility of victory for the sake of ease and peace. Have they surrendered an opportunity for greatness for the sake of security? And in doing so, have they thereby confined themselves, caged themselves, and abandoned any future opportunity to break free?
If you should go skating
On the thin ice of modern life
Dragging behind you the silent reproach
Of a million tear stained eyes
- The Thin Ice
Floyd recognizes that modern life, in many respects, can be represented by “thin ice.” The more emotional baggage we have, the more history of tears and sadness and heartbreak, the easier cracks appear beneath us. In this, the song may suggest that we shouldn’t treat our tear-stained eyes as a shameful reproach, but rather we should criticize modern society’s fragility and inability to support us and hold us, especially after encountering dark pasts.
I've got nicotine stains on my fingers
I've got a silver spoon on a chain
Got a grand piano to prop up my mortal remains
- Nobody Home
This quote touches me in a very personal way, as it probably touches all pianists or lovers of music. It seems rather random, with nicotine stains and silver spoons, but in merely mentioning these small details, Pink Floyd adds beauty to the idle, seemingly trivial minutiae of contemporary life and pop culture. The last line, however, is the most beautiful. It recognizes the mortality of humanity, but the immortality of music. A grand piano, the very heart of musical expression historically and theoretically, will prop up our frail, earthly bodies as we play, for the music we produce is strong enough to hold us.
Pink Floyd’s music, the perfect example of psychedelic rock, shouldn’t be seen as simply “music to trip out to.” The lyrics are intellectually provocative, and the songs are timelessly beautiful compositions of true musicianship.