“Money” is the sixth track from British progressive rock band Pink Floyd‘s 1973 album, The Dark Side of the Moon. It is the only song on the album to hit the top 20 in the United States charts. On the original LP, it opened the second side of the album. It was written by Roger Waters.
“Money” is notable for its introductory passage of cash registers ringing and coins clinking, recorded specifically for the album.
Among other things, “Money” is notable for its unusual time signature. Despite relatively recent remarks by bassist and principal composer Roger Waters and guitarist David Gilmour, that the song had been composed primarily in 7/8 time, it was actually composed in 7/4, as Gilmour previously acknowledged in an interview with Guitar World magazine in 1993. Most rock music is written in 4/4, or common time, and most of the exceptions are in 3/4 or a similar triple meter. The typical rock offbeats on two and four are instead on two, four and six, leaving two notes in a row without a beat.
The song is also notable for its dramatic change to 4/4 time for an extended guitar solo, after which the song returns to 7/4, then ends in 4/4. Gilmour suggested the change in time signature was likely introduced to make things a little easier for him. The first of three choruses which comprise his solo was recorded using real-time double-tracking. That is, Gilmour played the chorus nearly identically in two passes recorded to two different tracks of a multi-track tape machine. The doubled effect for the third chorus was created using automatic (or “artificial”) double-tracking (ADT).
The form and chord progression are based on the standard twelve-bar blues in the key of B minor. Two twelve-bar verses are followed by a twelve-bar instrumental section that features a funk-style tenor saxophone solo along with keyboard, bass, and drums.
The demo tracks for the song, including some of the sound effects, were recorded in a makeshift recording studio Roger Waters had in his garden shed. As recorded by the band, the song has a bluesy, transatlantic feel, unlike Waters’ original demo version, which he later described as “prissy and very English”. Though credited solely to Waters, since he wrote the basic music and all the lyrics, it is very much a group effort. The instrumental jam was a collaborative effort, with Gilmour overseeing the time change as well as own guitar and vocal work, and Richard Wright and Nick Mason improvising their own parts. Guest musician Dick Parry contributed the tenor saxophone solo that precedes the guitar solo. Gilmour’s input is also discernible in the final mix, which features contrasting “wet” sections, with thick reverb and delay effects, and “dry” sections. In particular, during the second chorus of the guitar solo, all the reverb and delay effects are suddenly pulled out, creating a much smaller and more intimate virtual space. To produce the distinctive piercing high notes that distinguish the final chorus of his solo, Gilmour played a customized Lewis guitar with a full two-octave range.
A novelty of the recording is the metronomic and rhythmic sequence of sound effects played during the song. This was achieved by Parsons laboriously splicing together recordings of ringing cash registers, clinking coins, tearing paper, and buzzing counting machines onto a two-track tape loop (later adapted to four tracks in order to create a unique “walk around the room” effect in quadraphonic presentations of the album). The sonic experimentation on the album required every member of the band to operate the faders simultaneously in order to mix down the intricately assembled multitrack recordings of several of the songs.
From 1972 through 1975 “Money” was a regular feature of the band’s Dark Side of the Moon set, and it was routinely performed as an encore during the band’s 1977 tour. These later performances would typically last as long as 12 minutes. From 1987 through 1990, the band performed the song during tours supporting A Momentary Lapse of Reason, their first album without Roger Waters, who had left the band in December 1985. In 1994 the band performed the song during tours supporting The Division Bell, their second post-Waters album. An extended version of the song, again lasting up to 12 minutes, was regularly performed during Gilmour’s 1984 US tour in support of his solo album About Face. Waters has also regularly included it on his solo tours.
The song was re-recorded for the 1981 Pink Floyd album A Collection of Great Dance Songs, because Capitol Records refused to license the track to Columbia Records in the US. With the help of producer James Guthrie, Gilmour re-recorded the song, providing vocals and playing all the instruments except saxophone. Dick Parry again contributed the sax solo, reprising his role on the original recording.
“Money” was performed during Pink Floyd’s reunion show (which included Waters) at the Live 8 concert in London in 2005, along with “Breathe” (including the reprise that follows “Time”), “Wish You Were Here” and “Comfortably Numb”. It was also performed by Waters at Live Earth’s Concert at Giants Stadium on July 7, 2007.
* Dan Reed Network covered the song on their 1991 album The Heat.
* Velvet Revolver covered it for the 2003 re-make of the film The Italian Job. Changes included doubling the opening bass riff with a guitar line, and replacing the saxophone solo with a guitar solo by former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash. (Both guitar parts were played through a talk box.)
* The progressive metal band Dream Theater covered it with John Petrucci changing a bit of the two guitar riffs.
* Easy Star All-Stars covered it on the album Dub Side of the Moon, released February 18, 2003 by Easy Star Records. The cash register sounds were changed to those of a man lighting then inhaling from a bong, followed by coughing.
* A cover by Yortoise (featuring former Warren Zevon tour guitarist John Would) appears on the tribute album A Fair Forgery of Pink Floyd.
* Leslie King covered it on the Echoes of Pink tribute album in 2002.
* Maryland-band Clutch recorded a cover of the song that was never officially released, although it has made the rounds among their fans.
* Dave Matthews Band began occasionally covering the song during their 2008 Summer Tour.
* Michael Schenker recorded a cover with his Michael Schenker Group for the 2005 album Heavy Hitters.
* The U.S. promo single was edited to 3 minutes and censored to remove the word “shit”. This has become commonly known as the “bull-blank” version.
* In the movie The Wall, during a short break in the song “The Happiest Days of Our Lives”, there is a classroom scene in which the teacher mocks a poem Pink is writing. What the teacher reads out loud is from the lyrics to “Money”.
* The song “Money” by Milli Vanilli features the cash register samples from the song’s opening, re-ordered to create a 4/4 beat; the two songs contain no other similarities.
* German indie rock group Sportfreunde Stiller also used the cash register samples on their song “Money Mark”, which appears on their album So wie einst Real Madrid (2000).
* The song is heard during the sales montage in an episode of the BBC situation comedy Only Fools and Horses entitled “Cash and Curry” (1981). However, due to contractual arrangements with the BBC, a different song was used on the Region 2 DVD release of the episode.
* In Season 10, Episode 7 of BBC television series Top Gear, the Top Gear crew created a beat to the tune of “Money” using broken upholstery pieces from British Leyland cars. Money was playing in the background.
* The cash register sound from the song was also used in the movie Requiem for a Dream.
Alternative and Live versions
* It was performed by Pink Floyd from 1972-1977, and then from 1987-1994.
* Both P•U•L•S•E and a Delicate Sound Of Thunder CD and video feature live versions of the track. In these versions, the song is slightly elongated to incorporate a series of solos, including a bass solo and a section spotlighting the female backing singers.
* Roger Waters’ In the Flesh: Live features another live version, sung by Doyle Bramhall II, with the solo split between guitarists Snowy White, Andy Fairweather-Low, and Bramhall (in that order).
* On the compilation album, Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd, the song segues from “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” into “Keep Talking”.
* The album A Collection of Great Dance Songs contains a re-recorded version of the song, owing to the fact that Capitol Records refused to let Columbia Records in the US use the original recording. Gilmour played all the instruments on the track except saxophone (played by Dick Parry, reprising his role on the original recording).
* David Gilmour – vocals, guitars
* Roger Waters – bass guitar
* Richard Wright – Wurlitzer electric piano (with wah effect)
* Nick Mason – drums
* Dick Parry – tenor saxophone
- adapted from Wikipedia