As a matter of fact, it is all dark

I was really bummed out to hear today that Richard Wright has died. Celebrities come and go, and it seems like quite a few have been on the “going” list this past year, but their passing generally has no impact on me. I mean, yes, it’s always a shame when someone dies, but for the most part famous people are just people whom I’ve never met and who have had no impact on my life. Wright, on the other hand…well, I never met him, but he definitely affected me. I used to obsess over Pink Floyd, back when I cared a little too much about music and felt compelled to thrust my obnoxious tastes on everyone; during my freshman year of college my dorm roommate and I woke up every day to The Dark Side of the Moon. You know, since it has a nice gentle intro that slowly builds in force and volume — and, if that fails to do the trick, there’s eventually a bunch of alarm clocks. This was stuff that had a profound influence on my malleable young mind. And I didn’t even do drugs! I just really loved the music.

Wright, I’ve always felt, was the most underappreciated member of the band. Seems like every classic quartet had one; see also Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. You always had your two dynamic forces (Waters/Gilmour, Plant/Page, Lennon/McCartney). Your had your guy who was just along for the ride (Nick Mason, Ringo Starr, and…er, well, okay, not John Bonham). And then there was the quiet one who left his indelible mark on the music in ways that weren’t really appreciated until he parted ways with the rest (Wright, Jones, Harrison).

Wright’s atmospheric keyboards were an integral part of Pink Floyd’s sound, from the stark piano of “Echoes” to the spacey textures of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts I – Whatever.” But no one really recognized what he brought to the band, I think, until he dropped out in all but name due to, ah, personal problems. Namely, he was making up for my lack of recreational drug use with his own vigorous inhalations, something Roger Waters supposedly memorialized in “Nobody Home” (specifically, the lines “I’ve got a silver spoon on a chain/Got a grand piano to prop up my mortal remains”). Wright was credited for The Final Cut and A Momentary Lapse of Reason, but didn’t really contribute to them. My belief is that the fact that those are the band’s two most soulless and unsatisfying albums is not a coincidence. He cleaned up and played a major role in the band’s final album, The Division Bell, and it made a huge difference. I’ll forgive him the one track he sang himself, although it’s actually not very good at all. But hey, everyone should be allowed an indulgence every now and then.

Anyway, it’s very disheartening to hear. Ah, but life goes on as usual for the rest of us:

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I guess it’s a sign that I’m getting old when not a single one of the big releases during the brisk introduction to the holiday release rush interests me. Or, on the other hand, it could be a sign that the film industry produces an awful lot of complete crap, like the latest Mike Meyers travesty. Ah, So I Married An Axe Murderer, how we pine for your relative intelligence.
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Meanwhile, over in game land, LucasArts is releasing yet another complete turd of a Star Wars game that’s going to sell millions despite the only amusement to be derived from it is watching YouTube videos of the ridiculous character physics. Meanwhile, I bet the excellent Dragon Quest IV will struggle to clear 50,000. Shine on, you crazy Americans.

20 thoughts on “As a matter of fact, it is all dark

  1. I’m still busy being bummed out about David Foster Wallace. :(

    Not that it really matters, but it seems like it’s doing Megaman 2 a disservice by representing it with a shot from the Gameboy version.

  2. That’s from the NES version. (If by nothing else, you can tell by the power meters not being at the bottom of the screen.) It’s just oddly cropped/resized.

  3. Most of my early exposure to Pink Floyd consisted of moping along to The Wall and Wish You Were Here, so the member I’ve always recognized most has been Waters. There was some awfully incredible music to go along with that guy bawling away about every single thing that had ever happened to him, though, so I certainly owe Wright his due.

    You’ve gotta go sometime.

  4. I would add The Who to your list. They fall more in the mold of Zeppelin, where the drummer is certainly not just along for the ride, but Townsend and Daltry dominated, while John Entwhistle was “the one who always stood still on stage” but left a huge impression on the music nonetheless.

  5. Yeah, I thought about name-dropping The Who, but I don’t know them well enough to make a definitive judgment on the members’ relative roles.

  6. Agreeing so much about Rick Wright.

    It is heartening, though, that he seemed to get things together in his later years. On the 2006 David Gilmour concert DVD Wright looks more animated and enthusiastic than ever, even grimacing musically during solos. From that, more than Division Bell or the Pulse tour, I got the impression that he was really back in the groove. He seems more an equal partner there, ironically, than on the Pulse DVD.

  7. When I first saw the topic, I thought it was about the author. You’d be a little late on that train of lamentation, though it did make me remember Native Son was one of the few books assigned in high school that I kind of liked, hilarious Commie preaching and all.

    And from what I hear about the new Star Wars game, it doesn’t seem that bad. Then again, its Gamerankings score isn’t at turd-like levels probably because some reviewers seem to dig those said physics.

  8. Cool of you to give that nice anecdote about Pink Floyd. I listened to Dark Side of the Moon today in his honor, specifically “Us and Them”. It’s been stuck in my head all day.

    PS, I love that suddenly there’s so much MORE content on this site. And it seems like you’ve chosen your fellow bloggers well (I love Kat!). Bravo, sir.

  9. No mention of “Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Complete Book 3 Collection” for DVD releases? Because really, that’s all I can think of as far as tube-watching is concerned, right now.

    Not at all kidding!

  10. I always heard that line as “to prop up my mottled remains.”

    Must be one of those “‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy” kinda moments.

  11. The lack of OFFLINE coop for AC For Answer is greatly frustrating. I hate the fact so many companies aren’t giving it to players. Nintendo is the only one that really has it anymore.

  12. I liked Dark Side, used to be in sync with the Wall, and still love Wish You Were. And I liked Lapse of Reason, at least for Learning to Fly.

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