What does Brain Damage mean?

Pink Floyd: Brain Damage Meaning

Album cover for Brain Damage album cover

Brain Damage Lyrics

The lunatic is on the grass
The lunatic is on the grass
Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs
Got to keep the loonars on the path

The lunatic is in the hall
The lunatics are in my hall
The paper holds their folded faces to the...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Jan 4th 2006 !⃝

    This song is most likely about going insane/being insane.

    The previous poster is correct as well, the song itself is titled "Brain Damage", "Dark Side of the Moon" is the album it's off of.

    There's a political side to it as well (just as there is to most of Pink Floyd's work) On the surface level it's about insanity, but the 'secondary' meaning may well refer to the hysterical US claim that the Soviets were testing massive-yield nuclear bombs on the 'dark side of the moon', the side facing away from the earth, where they couldn't be detected by NATO spy satilites.

    On that level it's a metaphor for how, well, basically insane the governments had gotten, claiming James Bond movie like plots by the soviets to justify massive spending on space programs and science fiction-esque gadgets.

    A LOT of PF's work has double-meanings related to the cold war and international politics, including The Wall (obviously) and Dark Side of the Moon.

    That's one of the things I've always loved about Floyd, the songs make sense on the most surface level, have a deeper, psychological meaning, and often have 3rd and 4th 'layers' of symbolism buried even deeper.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Sep 24th 2005 !⃝

    Dark Side of the Moon is lyrically a bit disjointed. It has several different subplots that all connect to a common theme. I will cover one of them in detail... hopefully the others will speak for themselves. The first refers to an event that actually happened to Roger Waters. Living in London, at the time, Roger actually walked by an area daily that was being converted from a cement slab into a park by the local authorities. He thought that the idea was inspired and completely unlike a normal government initiative. Upon passing the area for several weeks and noting the daily progress, one day it was finally completed. On that final day he noticed to his outrage, that the area had been chained off and sign had been posted that read, "Keep Off Of Grass". The obsurdity of the idea is actually what inspired the song. That someone would create this beautiful place only to make it off limits seemed sadly typical.

    That is what the song is about, the realization that we as a society have begun to choke-off our own life blood. That our own rules have begun to stunt our own creative spirit... this is the prevailing theme of Dark Side of the Moon-the song and the album. We, as a whole, have created a civilization that's contradictory to the very point of human existance... and this will gradually drive us all insane.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Nov 18th 2007 !⃝

    There's a number of different interpretation possible:
    1. Syd Barret, suicide, drug use, insanity - these actually all seem to be only parts of the bigger picture of the song, examples of the themes of the songs of this album
    2. politics and media hype: on the grass, folded face, the paperboy brings more - the lunatics are everyone else, especially the most "important" people (like politicians) - not the singers or listeners - the band is trying to get across the fascist corruption and insanity that results from superficial, incessant fighting that occurs every minute of every day; this is a theme that is also seen in the wall; this is a reflection of themes of the song “money”
    3. Living in reality - how can someone label reality as real? there is an element of pyrrhonic philosophy here - no one can be certain of anything in this world; "there is no dark side of the moon - as a matter of fact its all dark" - the only thing that can really be trusted is yourself, everything else is shrouded in shadow and uncertainty – this belief creates a chasm between the narrator of the album and the people who do not understand him – a conclusion drawn from the song “Us and Them”. Further, who can say what is real life? not to be afraid of death means you must expect something beyond death - a spiritual journey to follow, if you will, after our death - this theme links to "great gig in the sky" because by the end of the song, the gentle and somewhat shaky vocals crescendo into a repeated version of the emotional wail in the former song

    by the end of the song, the speaker is so overwhelmed by these revelations that he simply laughs; he has gone "insane" by everyone else's standards, but we see him as being enlightened - we might even be jealous of what he has come to understand, regardless of the price his soul has faced, the absolution and tragedy, and yet salvation, of which can be seen in the following song of "eclipse". Whether or not the speaker has died does not matter (and it is very probable that his insanity carried him over the edge - not to suicide, but to the point where his physical reality can not handle the intensity of his spiritual and mental accomplishment), for we can see he has finally acheived stability by the rhythmic heartbeat with which the song concludes.

  4. Fezos
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    Nov 7th 2022 !⃝

    I believe the lyrics of the song Brain Damage contain occult knowledge and refers to the reincarnation, something which revealed if one studies ancient Greek philosophy.
    For the Pythagoreans and Platonists the word man meant much more than the visible man and, literally, by this term they meant exclusively man, as the spirit and soul temporarily embodied in the human body. "man is a soul and a colored body" (Plato, Timaeus 42 D, Phaedo 111 A)
    The theme of reincarnation preoccupied Pythagoras and was a great basis for his moral and religious belief. However, since the problem of the survival of the soul and its future career is reduced to spiritual spheres and presupposes spiritual development, it should have concerned only the students of a higher degree, those who had already been introduced to the entire worldview and biotheory of the great philosopher. Therefore, it must have been secret and not shared with the people.
    Information about these beliefs give Ploútarchos (Greek Middle, Platonist philosopher, historian biographer) in his book “ON THE APPARENT FACE OF THE MOON'S CIRCLE”. In this book said:
    Souls get their mind from the Sun, the irrational soul from the Moon and the body from the Earth (the body of humans born from the ashes of the Titans?). When they die, they go to the side of the Moon that we see (which corresponds to Artemis), where they remain until their reincarnation When the cycle of incarnations is over, souls go to the dark side of the Moon (corresponding to Hecate). There, they shed the irrational soul and head for the Sun.
    So I believe the song refers to the reincarnation and describe this procedure and the final goal of the soul which is to go to the dark side of the moon.
    The use of word Lunatic also support this interpretation, Luna is the deity of the Moon in Roman mythology, so along with a first interpretation it means crazy if we look it from the side I suggest it means somebody who come from the moon.

  5. anonymous
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    Jul 15th 2018 !⃝

    The lunatics are on the grass is a reference to the grass at the rear of Kings College Cambridge where students were sitting near signs saying 'keep of the grass'. Roger Waters verified this having been brought up there along with Dave Gilmour and Syd Barrett

  6. kooljohn176
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    Feb 1st 2016 !⃝

    Melancholically remembering the simpler times playing on ''the grass'' before it became to mean something more damaging to the mind not to do when being to high seeing ''Keep Of The Grass'' sign for the first time that triggered another song by PINK FLOYD where the Protagonist is thinking and trying to get into the damaged mind of SYD BARRETT to assimilate and understand his condition by walking him in the mind through the hall and the halls of a mental hospital with the rest of the lunatics that ''They''{the press and the shadow government} printed and said, they're crazy loonies to be kept of the grass and on a straight path. Who were programmed with fearful religion and drugs on the outside that turned their own minds selfishly against themselves and Him for The Vultures circulating and waiting in the wings for a fragile burned out mind of a individual to be taken advantage by getting His brains picked being on the innocent path of enlightment that became delusional for Him in the presence of evil for a pure soul to keep it's sanity. Only to be misguided by these hungry and evil ententies that were[are] waiting in the wings to endulge themselves and drag the individual's mind to ''the dark side of the moon'' where The Vultures are waiting to lock Him up there in his mind and then throwing away the key to be thinking about the moon where nobody really went up there to land anyway 'cause there was never any grass on the moon.

  7. anonymous
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    Apr 17th 2013 !⃝

    The dude in the song is sane and everyone else is crazy because they conform to what they are told is 'sane'? What is crazy about playing in the grass and remembering the fun you had as a kid? We are told not to do it because a sign says 'keep off the grass' and you must be crazy if you don't conform.

    Yet they keep sending him a newspaper that is full of insanity and he is crazy because he leaves them there and doesn't read it.

    The lunatics in his head are the 'sane' people making him conform to their insanity. They are rearranging him until he is 'sane'.

    Yes, there is a tribute to Sid about not playing the same tune, which really happened, but in the context of the song, maybe he is sane and the rest of the band members are the ones that are crazy.

  8. anonymous
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    Jun 26th 2012 !⃝

    This song is about drug use and abuse. First of , the loonies are on the grass - that means they're smoking marijuana. Then all of the "loonies" (freaks) are in their house meaning that a lot of people are coming to their parties, groupies in search of free drugs. The folded paper holds their faces to the floor - at the time the song was first released hard drugs like heroine and cocaine were sold in folded paper packets. It was common to buy a "paper' of coke or smack. It holds their faces to the floor because they only think of consuming drugs and it completely obsesses them . They want more. The paper boy is the dealer and he always has more. The blade is the razor which powders the cocaine and spreads it into lines. They are rearranged by the drug until their craving passes. They take drugs to make them feel better or more relaxed - that's making them feel sane again. The song pictures the sadness involved with taking drugs.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  9. anonymous
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    Feb 16th 2012 !⃝

    Which side of the moon is dark?? The 'INside' or the 'OUTside' A rotating sphere does not have sides, as matter of fact it's ALL sides...

  10. anonymous
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    Jan 2nd 2012 !⃝

    i feel that the song is loosly based on The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress a 1966 science fiction novel by American writer Robert A. Heinlein and as well as some of waters own experiences in cluding the keep of the grass incident where he probably though that the concept of sending away all the undesirables to the moon and placing a metaphorical keep of the grass sign mainly the space between the cold moon and the lush fertile earth

  11. joycebro
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    Oct 14th 2011 !⃝

    This song sounds very calming at first and when you look at the lyrics, you start thinking, "wow how can such a relaxing song have such strange lyrics." After reading the lyrics, it sounds like Roger Waters is talking about being in a mental institute, he uses lyrics like, "The lunatic is on the grass" and "The lunatic is in the hall", to me this just yells mental hospital. Roger Waters may have also been talking about himself going insane, or else there is a hidden meaning that is hard to find/understand.

  12. anonymous
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    Sep 26th 2011 !⃝

    Well, Brain Damage and Eclipse are almost one song in the Dark Side of the Moon. I would say that the "dark side of the moon" is a "good place" for Waters, a place where things are actually bright. This is what it happens during a sun eclipse actually, the Earth is in darkness, but the dark side of the moon is bright. When "the sun is eclipsed by the moon", the dark side itself has sunlight.
    I would say that Brain Damage talks of the process of going "crazy", from the time you were a child, till the time you are an adult. "the lunatic is remembering games and laughs". And "the paper", as the "Newspaper", hold their faces to the floor, and every day, there are more news that hold us to the floor, so we cannot see clearly. But, if somehow one can wake up from these, one would be on the dark side, where it is clear. Waking up can be triggered by several things, i.e. your head exploding by dark forebodings, your band playing different tunes.
    Then, Brain damage matches with the rest of the album, which lists our problems that impede us to see clearly: Not living the present (Breathe and Time), money issues (Money), lack of solidarity and war (Us and them).
    Anyway, lets remember that likely, Waters was under LSD or similar while writing this, so I wouldn´t be surprised if even he doesn´t know what the song was really about.

  13. anonymous
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    Aug 23rd 2011 !⃝

    Well, the lunatic is on the grass...What is grass actually? It's just weed. That's what people do when they are facing mentally illness, smoking weeds! But they are not insane because of themself, but because of all around them, and have to escape from it. You lock the door, throw away the key, in fact, they don't want to go outside to see what the world is.

  14. anonymous
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    Apr 6th 2011 !⃝

    This is clearly about syd..

  15. cill
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    Jan 25th 2011 !⃝

    My life, through no forward planning, seems to have followed several Floyd songs. I wonder how many out there have similarly found that life is a retrospective experiment, where one only finds meaning when retreating along one's pathway, picking-up discarded thoughts and memories of old, wondering why they were forgotten or mislaid, and perhaps then understanding better their place in your life.

    Brain Damage is, perhaps, a metaphor for the Waters' look back and understanding life's absurdity, likely through Syd's messages (once completely misunderstood by Waters). This might explain his return to that common theme of Syd and loss, and better interpretations of his life. Perhaps then, in this song and even the Wall, he understands finally what Syd knew yet could not convey with clarity. That is, that Life exists simultaneously on two planes: a physical journey, and a spiritual enlightenment one. Perhaps he understood too that these worlds are often in societal conflict. In other words, in the view of most unelightened humans,one interpretation must be right and the other misguided. And, one is real, while the other is mad.

    I accept Waters' metaphorical observation of a park with man-controlled paths that direct us like lemmings...life's rules and our expected compliance. Enlightenment came to him one day in his observations of such society's "rules", perhaps as a park (as often ideas come to us all from the strangest sources, eh?) Equally, I think he observed that anyone outside of said rules must then also be outside of society, in other words, a "luner". (Funny, the relationship between 'luner/lunar' and 'moon'...but perhaps that observation is for another day's pondering.)

    So, when we (any of us) begin to question bits of the Earth's and human's physical side and, with that, the rules of the our existence; we are branded as 'odd'. When we question everything we are certifiably insane .... according to the unenlightened masses. Yet are we...and was Syd...mad? Perhaps, with the correct glasses on, we see a more spiritual and colourful and truthful existentialism.

    The song's reference to the brain surgery, and the forced implantation of thoughts ("you throw away the key")....leads to the phrase..."there'is someone in my head, but it's not me...". Those thoughts that were forced into us and which we chant with ritualistic repetitiveness, where implanted and incorrect interpretations. (Like many religious and doctinal efforts....queue Lennon here.)

    So, if you reader/listener also notice certain events happening....like a "band playing signing different tunes", or "you shout and no one hears".... these too are signs of your transformation to the other existence.... and, therefore, you are certifiably "insane" like Syd ..... See you on the dark side of the moon. It is a mystical place where such people's spirits fly.

    Just one last thought for another day.....when that mystical Moon does in fact eclipse the sun (that ball of light by which Earth's physical beings draw life)....is the dark side then illuminated as the true meaning of life? Was Syd right, and (Shine on you crazy Diamond) did he simply reach for the truth too soon?

    See you on the Dark Side of the Moon....

  16. anonymous
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    Jan 18th 2011 !⃝

    Also, unfortunately, she may now get epilepsy. Brain cells can't heal.

  17. anonymous
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    Jan 18th 2011 !⃝

    Why does any sort of brain damage have to mean mental brain damage? That congress woman in Arizona was shot and now has brain damage (damage to her brain). There's epilepsy too, where an area of the brain is damaged. The kind of seizure often depends on the location of the damage.

  18. bagel
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    May 24th 2010 !⃝

    Greetings to the world. This is Bagel again. My shallow and pride installed apologies for a few simple grammatical errors I made trying to decode "Brain Damage/Eclipse. My statement "From Christ to his any of legally encrypted children" was a linguistic stumble I made attempting "From Christ to any of hie legally encrypted children". I also now substitute "I've" for "I,ve". I hope this secures me the forgiveness of creation's editors.

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