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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Crazy Diamond

you and I,
you and I and dominoes,
the day goes by...

For those who don’t know, Syd was the reason why Pink Floyd came about. Some might be a little baffled how a person who’s stayed out of the public for over 30 years would still have an influence to music today. Syd in fact came up with the name "Pink Floyd" by using the names of two obscure blues artists (Pink Anderson and Floyd Council).

Take David Bowie for example, he sang Arnold Layne in tribute to the late Syd Barrett.

By the way, as always, whatever I say isn’t “the deal” but just a collection of books, articles, and websites that I have read throughout the years.

Back in the 60’s Barrett founded and the was the force that spearheaded the group known as Pink Floyd. Playing at the UFO club they quickly rose in the ranks of British pop groups to a point where the who’s who (the Beatles and The Who) of British pop became fans of the early carnation of Pink Floyd.

For their first album, Piper At the Gates of Dawn, Syd wrote nearly every track and was the major drive for all the songs. It seemed to be much like Credence Clearwater Revival and how John Fogerty was pretty much THE band (much to the chagrin of Credence Clearwater Revisited which is just plain stupid).

He had a lyrical style so simple but with a weird twist. For instance in the song Arnold Layne, the song sounds like a catch pop song. If you listen to the lyrics, it’s about some dude stealing panties.
They played this song on the radio even!

As they were touring for Piper, the band found it harder and harder to play with Syd with his experimentation in LSD which is why Pink Floyd is probably why Pink Floyd is labeled a “drug band”. During this period the band was playing for many commercial shows like American Bandstand and the Pat Boone show. As they were taping the Pat Boone show Syd would practice with the band but when it came time to tape the show, he would stare off into the distance as his band mates would play. Getting Syd to play was tedious at best.

On the stage the band found that he would trail off and change lyrics haphazardly. He would also play erratically and make the songs very confusing for the rest of the band members. As this was happening the band asked David Gilmour, a childhood friend of Syd, to fill in and to be the eventual replacement.

Syd Barrett was eventually neglected for gigs after the band got sick of putting up with him. It was as this point where Pink Floyd was without a visionary, lyricist, and any real sense of direction. The band never saw Syd again for about 7 years.

As it turns out Roger Waters stepped up to become one of the best lyricists ever and the band did…okay.

It is interesting to know as the band was recording “Wish You Were Here”, the conceptual tribute to Syd Barrett, there was a bald (hey nothing against bald guys), overweight, and odd looking fellow who the band thought was a custodian. This man stayed throughout the recording until he approached someone and offered to help out with recording. After a closer look the band was stunned to find that it was indeed Syd Barrett who had found his way to Abbey Road Studios. It was the first time they had seen their old friend in years. It was also said that it was during the recording of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” which was a song for Syd.

As for the albums after Piper, Syd’s presence remained on most of Pink Floyd’s albums. Dark Side contained the lines,
“And when the band you’re in starts playing different tunes…” which is inspired by Syd.

The character of Pink Floyd in The Wall is highly inspired by Syd Barrett and recently David Gilmour would purposely add a Barrett song to his set-list just so he could make sure his childhood friend would receive his share of royalties.

It’s amazing how such a front man could be such an enigma for all these years and was known as a front man even though he never performed on stage for almost 40 years. Had Live 8 never happened last year I’m sure this would be the event that would bring the band together.

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