Star Journalist Can’t Escape His Pink Floyd-‘Wizard of Oz’ Story
The first journalist to write about the Dark Side of the Rainbow phenomenon says he knows he’ll never escape its legacy, despite becoming a Pulitzer Prize-winning political reporter.
As a college intern in 1995, Charlie Savage wrote about the remarkable connections between Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon and the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. He recently told Mojo that his piece, published by The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Ind., has overshadowed his work on presidential power, risks to democracy, constitutional issues and national security.
“When I got to college that fall [of 1994], I gained access to the internet for the first time, and among the things I started messing around with was Usenet, a text-based messaging board system,” Savage said. “It had groups for several bands I liked, and alt.music.pink-floyd was a particularly interesting group to keep returning to.”
That’s where he discovered the Dark Side of the Rainbow concept. “Somebody said that if you watched The Wizard Of Oz with the sound muted and played The Dark Side Of The Moon, it would sync up in interesting ways," he recalled. "I rented a VHS tape of the movie, and we tried it. We all made observations about various lyrical overlaps with the visuals as we spotted them. Then the album ended and that was that. It was a very college freshman socializing way to spend 45 minutes on a random evening.”
During his internship with The Journal Gazette the following year, Savage pitched the idea to his editor, who was always on the lookout for unusual stories. “I had fun with the article, working in a lot of references to Floyd lyrics, and I later posted a copy of it on a rudimentary personal website,” he explained. “So that article turned into the original web page about the topic.”
Eventually, Savage’s piece was referenced on his Wikipedia page, which sealed his fate. "I have gone on to have a career as a journalist, specializing in national security and legal issues – presidential power, drone strikes, executive privilege, Guantanamo detention, military commissions, surveillance, et cetera," he said. "It can be heavy stuff. Over time I’ve made my peace with the fact that that quirky little article I wrote when I was 19 is going to follow me around for the rest of my life."
Last year, Roger Waters told Joe Rogan that although he finds the Dark Side of the Rainbow phenomenon amusing, he didn't plan it. "It may [work] if you do what they say, but it has nothing to do with us. Any of us," he said. "Nothing to do with anyone in Pink Floyd or anyone who wrote or recorded any of the music."
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