An Interpretation of Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage”
In 1965, Cambridge, England natives Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Rick Wright, and Nick Mason formed a psychedelic band known as Pink Floyd. The band produced one album under the leadership of Barrett. David Gilmour was brought in as a fifth member to enable Pink Floyd to continue performing live after Barrett proved incapable to remain lead vocalist, lead guitarist, and lead songwriter. Three short years after co-founding the group, Syd Barrett left the band, due to mental instability, allegedly resulting from heavy drug use. The band regrouped, kept Barrett’s vision, and became even more successful as an acid-rock band. Pink Floyd was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Dark Side of the Moon, a tribute to Barrett, remained on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart longer than any other album in history. The album featured a song, “Brain Damage,” based on Syd Barrett’s mental idiosyncrasies.
The song, “Brain Damage,” is metaphorically indicative of a person’s journey to insanity. The meaning of the song is reflected in the title. Had the title been “Dark Side of the Moon,” the reader would interpret the song quite differently. If a person’s brain is damaged, he/she does not meet society’s standard of normal. At the beginning of “Brain Damage,” a “lunatic is on the grass” in view of the speaker, who works at a mental hospital (1). Insanity is only a thought at this point. The speaker remembers a happier time when he was a child and the main goal in life was to have fun (3). Now, the speaker must keep the patients of the hospital in line (4). The patients symbolize his thoughts. He cannot let his guard down to have a good time for fear of looking crazy to society. He must focus on his responsibilities and try not to stray from his duties because of his desire to blend in with normal people. If he lets his thoughts run wild he will become overwhelmed and break down mentally.
Insanity is drawing...
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