Círdan’s note: A few weeks ago, we asked our young adults if they had any topics or questions they wanted to address in a student-led discussion. One of our high-schoolers Ethan, a.k.a. spock0528, put together a fabulous presentation on Nerd Rock that we thought was too good not to share. We’ve transformed his powerpoint into blog form so that you can enjoy and rock along with us. Remember our Grey Havens YA slogo: “Being a nerd is not about what you love, it’s about how you love it.” Ethan’s enthusiasm for rock and the connections he draws between music, fandom, and being a nerd are what Grey Havens YA is all about. This post is part one of three (so far), so stay tune for more classic rock and nerdy awesomeness. Party on, dude!
Best of Both Worlds
You wouldn’t think it but Classic Rock and Fandoms go together extremely well. I can’t think of a nerdier type of music. While pop has to always please a mainstream audience, rock can sound like whatever you want it too as long as it just sounds awesome. While pop music has to fit inside a box, rock music can have large amounts of fans without a single hit. While the artists in this series are all pretty well known (except for maybe one), many people don’t see the nerdy side of their music. That’s what I am going to point out with this series and hopefully introduce to some new music that’s sure to get you as excited as the next Marvel movie.
Here is what I mean when I say “nerdy music,” and these are the factors that I used to make this list:
- Characters- The members of the band are cool and may even may be nerds themselves.
- Backstory- The band itself has an epic story (such as their rise to stardom, lineup changes, etc.)
- Visuals- The band’s logo, album artwork, or images at live shows are nerdy in appearance such as taking from sci-fi or fantasy.
- Talent- The band members have almost superhuman talent on their instrument.
- Lyrics- The group’s lyrics feature nerdy themes (such as not fitting in, science, or themes and ideas based off of novels or poems)
- Fandom References- The band’s lyrics or imagery references fandoms we still enjoy today.
- Solid Franchise- The band has produced a steady stream of quality material during their time together.
- Storytelling- Their music tells stories through either individual songs or concept albums
So Here We Go!!!
Psychedelic/Progressive Rock band Pink Floyd is one of the most successful and innovative music artists of all time. Rated the 51st greatest artist of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine, The 18th greatest artist by VH1 and the 4th greatest rock band by WatchMojo, Pink Floyd is a combination of intelligent lyrics, lengthy and complex arrangements, unique themes and imagery, and spellbinding live shows.
Formed in 1965, Pink Floyd started out as a psychedelic band led by frontman Syd Barrett who used fairytales and works of fantasy as inspiration for Pink Floyd’s earliest albums such as The Piper At The Gates of Dawn and the space themed Saucerful of Secrets.
Listen to the Tolkien influenced “The Gnome” from Pink Floyd’s first album.
By their second albums Barrett had succumbed to the excess of the 60’s, his mind altered by drugs leaving Pink Floyd without a frontman. Bassist Roger Waters stepped up to the task working to find Pink Floyd a new sound, while guitarist David GIlmour stepped in to replace Barrett. The group tried out experimental soundscaping on Atom Heart Mother and film soundtracks on albums like Obscured By Clouds and More. They even scored the the music for the moon landing on British television. In 1971 they released Meddle, which showed the band moving in a more progressive direction. Little did they know they were about to become one of the biggest bands of all time.
Listen to Pink Floyd sample the Doctor Who theme on “One of These Days” (at 2:20):
With the release of Dark Side of the Moon in 1973 Pink Floyd became superstars. The album spent 917 non-consecutive weeks on the charts and is now the 3rd best selling album of all time. Pink Floyd had found their mind-bending, epic sound with Waters providing the philosophical lyrics and themes, often using Barrett’s mental illness for ideas, which led to some of their most famous songs such as: Wish You Were Here, Shine On You Crazy Diamond, and Brain Damage, while Gilmour’s guitar skills and the rest of the band’s musical talent (Richard Wright’s keyboards and Nick Mason’s drums) put unique music behind the words. The band released the album Wish You Were Here in 1975 while also receiving recognition for their live shows which featured laser and light shows.
As Pink FLoyd’s fame grew Waters’s lyrics began to grow more political. In 1977 Pink Floyd released Animals, an Orwellian concept album that compared social classes to barnyard animals and in 1979 they put out The Wall, a concept album telling the story of a rocker who builds a metaphorical wall from humanity. The album became the best-selling album of the decade (although DSOTM would later outsell it). However Waters (who wrote The Wall pretty much all by himself) began to see the band as his own. In-fighting caused the band to break up after one final album in 1980 (basically a Waters solo album).
Listen to “Pigs on the Wing Pt.2” from Animals:
To people’s surprise, Gilmour, Wright, and Mason reunited for a new album in 1987 without Waters ensuring a legal battle over Pink Floyd name. Waters eventually relented and the new Pink Floyd lineup scored a few hits such as Learning to Fly and On the Turning Away. In 1994 the group released the album The Division Bell, an altogether stronger and more focussed effort. In 2005 Pink Floyd managed to put aside their differences for one last show together at the Live 8 Charity Concert before going their separate ways. Richard Wright passed away in 2008 and a mostly instrumental Pink Floyd album, The Endless River, was released in 2014 honoring his achievements.
Now, I leave you with two final videos. Watch this incredible guitar solo from the Live 8 show (solo starts at 20:54, but you’ll also enjoy the rest of the video):
Finally, see more about the Pink Floyd live show experience in this trailer for Roger Waters’s new concert movie:
Our Nerd Rock series continues on Wednesday with Led Zeppelin!
P.S. At the meeting we also enjoyed watching the first eight minutes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens as it syncs up perfectly with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. It was pretty spectacular!
Send us an owl: What’s your favorite Pink Floyd song and why?