It’s a popular pastime that takes place in basements and dorm rooms every day: an attempt to prove the claim that Pink Floyd’s iconic album “Dark Side of the Moon” syncs up perfectly with the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz.” While some claim to have done it successfully, others (with disappointment) dismiss the claim as an urban myth.
But no matter how many people try and fail, the mystery still persists. It’s time to get to the bottom of it.
Just Press Play
First, let’s go over how this works. The most important thing to remember is that for this supposed synchronicity to work, you have to start playing the album at the right time. Various theories abound about when the perfect moment to hit play appears, but the vast majority of theorists believe that you need to start the music as soon as the MGM lion emits his third roar before the beginning of the opening credits. You’ll know that you have done it right if the name “Mervyn Leroy” appears on the screen when the music on the album transitions. Once you get the timing right, turn off the sound on the television, turn up the music and watch to see what happens.
A Happy Coincidence?
While no one seems to know who was the first to try playing “Dark Side of the Moon” while watching “The Wizard of Oz,” those who have done it since point out that there are a number of incredible coincidences. During the scene in which Dorothy walks along the edge of the fence surrounding the pigpen, you can hear the line “balanced on the biggest wave,” for example, and “Great Gig in the Sky” plays while the tornado carries Dorothy and Toto away to the Land of Oz. Perhaps the most mind-blowing moment for many viewers comes when Dorothy first steps out of her house in Munchkinland, and “Money” begins to play as the film switches from black and white to color. Later on, we meet the Scarecrow while the song “Brain Damage” plays.
For all of the coincidences, the awe is short lived. “Dark Side of the Moon” runs a mere 43 minutes, while the film runs 101 minutes. That means that more than half of the film does not have any correlation; in fact the music stops just after Dorothy meets the Tin Man.
Much Ado About Nothing
For all of the attention that the Pink Floyd/Wizard of Oz connection gets, the actual creators of the album vehemently deny any connection. Alan Parsons, the sound engineer on the album, pointed out that when it was produced in 1972, there was no easy way to screen the film in the studio to match it up. Free movie websites, VCRs and DVD players were not yet commonplace, and correlating music to film was an arduous process. Parsons also pointed out that variations between the sound recording and video could vary up to 20 seconds, making it virtually impossible to perfectly sync separate recordings.
Still, while Pink Floyd thinks that the connection is a pile of hogwash, they have a sense of humor about it. Drummer Nick Mason once remarked that the album had nothing to do with “The Wizard of Oz” — it was based on “The Sound of Music.”
Oz: The Great and Powerful?
When the “prequel” to “The Wizard of Oz,” “Oz: The Great and Powerful” was released in 2013, a few curious souls wondered if the modern filmmakers would continue the tradition and match up the new film with “Dark Side of the Moon.” Slate magazine’s John Swansburg attended a screening of the film with the album loaded on his mobile device. Alas, there weren’t many significant synchronicities.
That being said, other Pink Floyd albums have been paired with classic films; “The Wall,” for example, has shown some synchronicity with Disney’s “Wall-E” and “Alice in Wonderland.” The track “Echoes” from the earlier album, “Meddle,” has also been paired with the fourth and final act of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Similar coincidences have been found, although none have reached the level of notoriety that “The Wizard of Oz” connection has.
Regardless of whether the matching of “Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wizard of Oz” is intentional or not, the idea that they might has become entrenched in pop culture and will probably still be a popular activity for bored college students for years to come.
About the Author: Although she is a huge fan of both Pink Floyd and “The Wizard of Oz,” Kayleen Griffin has never tried syncing the two. She blogs about pop culture for several sites when she’s not watching classic movies.