In May of 1972, Pink Floyd filed in to Abbey Road studios to record what would eventually become their greatest masterpiece, “Dark Side of the Moon.” Still reeling from the loss of its visionary leader, Syd Barrett, and turning a profit for the first time since its founding seven years earlier, the band needed a hit. So did the producer assigned by the studio to oversee the recording: 24 years old at the time, Alan Parsons had served as an engineer on a number of big recordings, including some with the Beatles, but hadn’t yet done any work on his own.
“Dark Side of the Moon” was as much his big break as it was the band’s. Roger Waters, Pink Floyd’s vocalist, would reportedly interrupt the studio sessions regularly to go watch his beloved Arsenal play football, leaving Parsons to dream up much of the psychedelic soundscape millions of college kids have pondered while stoned. Parsons is the one who put in those nightmarish chiming clocks in the beginning of “Time,” as well as the one who found and recruited the singer Clare Torry, who made “The Great Gig in the Sky” the mind-melting track it is. Parsons and Waters remained friends after the album was released and the producer went on to become a rock star in his own right. But now they’re not speaking, and BDS is to blame.
Waters “did appeal to me to join his appeal for the cultural boycott, but I completely ignored it,” Parsons, who is touring Israel at the moment, told a local TV interviewer. “I have no reason I should not come to Israel. I wanted to come to Israel. I ignored his appeal.” And now, he added, “we’re no longer in touch.”
Parsons will play two concerts in Israel this week, one in Tel Aviv and one in Haifa. He’ll be following Boy George, who crooned “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” in Tel Aviv this week while wearing a black suit adorned with shiny yellow and red Stars of David. Take That are on their way, and Nick Cave is coming in December. In related news, Morrissey’s new, recently released album concludes with a six-minute-long Zionist ballad, entitled Israel and arguing that the state’s critics are just jealous. “In other climes they bitch and whine,” goes the song, “Just because you are not like them, Israel, Israel.” Amen to that, brother.
Liel Leibovitz is editor at large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One.