Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Syd Barrett:1940 - 2006
The madcap, the stranger, the legend, the martyr, dead at 60. (Wikipedia shows he died on "July 7". Fourteen year-olds must be IMing right now: "dude, he is still alive!")
Everyone has their favorite Floyd phase. Some even like their late '80s and '90s output. [said with a very straight face.] No doubt DSOM is the band's creative peak, but the Pink Floyd I fell in love with was their very first avatar, fronted by Syd Barrett. This was the band that wrote the book on melancholic music. While the Beatles' "Lucy" was having happy, colorful adventures, Barrett's "Emily" was quite a different girl: playing all alone in the woods by a river after dark. She cries, she borrows dreams; did Floyd ever write such personal songs again?
If the early years of rock and roll defined the popular archetypes - the suffering poet, the joker, the wild man - Syd Barrett will be remembered as the Seer, the one blessed - or cursed - with the ability to see alternate realities.
The Observer ran a story about a meeting with the reclusive musician back in 2002. The end of the story is just so sad.
(How's this for a hair-raising fact: right around the time when Pink Floyd were in the EMI studios to record "Piper At The Gates of Dawn", "Sgt. Pepper" was being recorded next door. And did you know that the cover photo for "Piper" - later to become a standard-issue, cliched "acid rock" visual - was shot by a photographer called "Vic Singh"?)
(Syd Barrett's image courtesy of Musicmoz.org)