How a road manager’s catchphrase inspired a great Pink Floyd song

After Syd Barrett’s departure in 1968, Pink Floyd struggled to establish their footing. It wasn’t until 1971’s Meddle that the Beatles discovered the sound that would ultimately define their most successful run of albums. Meddle was considerably boosted by the 23-minute epic ‘Echoes’, a compositional marvel that foretold the success of The Dark Side of the Moon in 1973. Based on Roger Waters’ theme premise, The Dark Side of the Moon is undeniably somber and remarkably contemplative for a guy in his late twenties. As an examination of man’s greatest existential challenges, the album incorporates conceptual milestones such as ‘Time’ and ‘Money’, highlighted by recurrent clock ticks, heartbeats, and clinking cash registers.

The album begins with the brief instrumental piece ‘Speak To Me’, which introduces the conceptual ideas before flawlessly transitioning into ‘Breathe (In the Air)’. Along with repeated motifs and continuous composition on both sides, The Dark Side of the Moon is held together by an instrumental reprise of ‘Breathe (In the Air)’ on side two. Originally named ‘Breathe (2nd reprise)’, ‘Any Colour You Like’ is widely associated to Henry Ford’s famous comment in reference to his Model T car, “You can have it any color you like… as long as it’s black!” However, Vernon Fitch’s Pink Floyd Encyclopedia disproves this allegation, citing the title as a slogan used by Pink Floyd’s road manager, Chris Adamson. When asked to pick out a guitar, he’d answer, “Any colour you like, they’re all blue.”

Adamson’s use of the term appears to have served as a reminder to Waters, who remembered hearing it in an interview with Phil Rose. “In Cambridge, where I lived, people would come from London in a van – a truck – open the back and stand on the tailboard of the truck, and the truck’s full of stuff that they’re trying to sell,” he told me. Waters went on to say that these Del Trotter types had the sharp tongue of an auctioneer and hilarious catchphrases to match. “If they had sets of china that were all the same color, they would say, ‘You can have them for ten bob, love. “Any color you like, they’re all blue.”

The bassist and lyricist highlighted how this sense of misdirection aligns with the album’s existential and political themes. “So, symbolically, ‘Any Colour You Like’ is interesting in that sense, since it implies providing an option where none exists. It’s also intriguing that in the sentence, ‘Any colour you like, they’re all blue,’ I’m not sure why, but ‘they’re all blue’ constantly comes to mind, which, when you think about it, corresponds very much to light and dark, sun and moon, good and evil. You make your decision, but it’s always blue.” Listen to Pink Floyd’s ‘Any Colour You Like’ below.

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