It was announced yesterday that Syd Barrett, original front man for Pink Floyd, passed away. I love Pink Floyd, but there is a real chasm between the music from the Barrett era and the Dark Side of The Moon / Wall era. Barrett had mental illness, which was exaserbated by his heavy LSD use. LSD and schizophrenia don’t mix. It does make you wonder what would have happened to the band if he hadn’t left. There probably would be none of the great Floyd music you know and love. Since I’m more a fan of their later work and not the Syd Barrett stuff I have asked a guest writer, Long Island Paul, to comment on Barrett. Here is what he had to say:
Syd Barrett only released 2 full albums (both in 1970), The Madcap Laughs and Barrett. Many bootleg tracks can be found around the web as well, including several different versions of songs. He certainly was no Grateful Dead, as his touring consisted of ONE show that ended after 5 songs. Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” was written about Syd Barrett. Ditto “Shine on you Crazy Diamond.” Roger Waters often said he frequently checked up on Syd to make sure that he was always taken care of in life. I’ve also read that Syd survived financially on the royalties of Pink Floyd and his solo work. Being that he did 1½ Floyd albums and 2 solo records with NO touring, I can’t imagine how much cash the other full-time members of Floyd have.
Rather than drone on about his life, I’d rather point out some of his best material (in my opinion) as he’s one of my favorite artists. I highly suggest checking these out.
“Baby Lemonade” – Great little intro (including several noticeable flubs on guitar) which goes into a pretty solid groove. One of his more ‘approachable’ songs.
“Dark Globe” – Quite the opposite of Baby Lemonade, it consists of his off-kilter vocals backed by a strummed acoustic. Sounds almost like a demo take, his vocals are all over the place. It was later cleaned up and covered by Placebo. I hate the cover.
“Effervescing Elephant” – Ranks up there with Jumpin Jack Flash for most bizarre lyrics. I think Syd did some drugs at some point in his life. Still, great melody and it was the first song that hooked me on his music.
“Bob Dylan Blues” – A buddy of mine always covered this song when he played live. Pretty scathing cut on Dylan. Not sure if it’s in jest or if he truly disliked Dylan.
Roam from town to town
Guess I get people down
But I don’t care too much about that
Cause my gut and my wallet are fat
Make a whole lotta dough
But I deserve it though
I’ve got soul and a good heart of gold
So I’ll sing about war in the cold
Well I sing about dreams
And I rhymes it with seams
Cause it seems that my dream always means
That I can prophesy all kinds of things
Cause I’m a poet
Don’t ya know it
And the wind, you can blow it
Cause I’m Mr. Dylan, the king
And I’m free as a bird on the wing
“Octopus” – Again, great groove to this song. I’ll be the first to admit some of his songs are difficult to listen to, but this one is about as ‘rock n roll’ as he gets. He always manages to get the chord changes to sound just a bit off. He used this technique in several songs and really gives what is a normal chord progression a bit of a hook.
And what kind of blog would it be without some youtube links to Syd?
Trippy 30 minute clip feature Syd with Pink Floyd in 1967.
Another live clip of Syd and Floyd. Barely any footage exists of the original members performing. Enjoy. REALLY 60’s-ish performance.
Some photos and somewhat creepy footage of him while Dark Globe plays in the background. Looks weird when he’s fat, bald, old and tooling around in a tank top. Kind of sad. VERY few photos exist of him past the 70s as he went into complete seclusion. Bums me out that the one clip of him current is him walking down the street probably to get a bite to eat.Many Thanks to Long Island Paul