Saturday, January 07, 2006

Happy b'day Syd/Roger
















It's the sixtieth birthday of Syd Barrett (or Roger Barrett, as he prefers to be known these days). When I was staying in Cambridge last year I was always aware of Barrett's presence in the town, always half-expecting him to wander around a corner or go cycling past me at an intersection, his bicycle basket filled with groceries and bottles of paint.

In the early sixties Barrett left school in Cambridge, settled in London, and formed The Pink Floyd; at the beginning of the seventies he stepped out of his Earls Court flat and walked all the way back to Cambridge, where he settled in his mother's basement. Except for a few years back in London later in the seventies, he has lived in Cambridge ever since, assiduously avoiding music journos and obsessive fans, and engaging in his favourite hobbies of painting, gardening, and walking in parks.

During his few years in the London limelight Barrett pioneered perhaps half a dozen new genres of music, from space rock to psych-folk. Heady experiments in feedback and free-form guitar noise with the early Floyd gave way to the quirky, richly ornamented pictures of English life - 'suburban psychedelia', some called it - of classic Floyd singles like 'Arnold Layne' and 'See Emily Play', and were replaced in turn by the jagged, deconstructed pop of the brief solo career Barrett managed after being expelled from the band he had founded and inspired.

I remember playing some of Syd's songs to a friend who was immersed in the study of Stockhausen at the University of New South Wales' School of Music. 'He's either a genius, or really, really, stoned', my friend said, as he poured another glass of ouzo. In Syd's case at least, I don't think those are mutually exclusive options:

It's no good trying to place your hand
where I can't see because I understand
that you're different from me
yes I can tell that you can't be what you pretend
and you're rocking me backwards and you're rocking towards
the red and yellow mane of a stallion horse

It's no good trying to hold your love where I can't see
because I understand that you're different from me
yes I can tell that you can't be what you pretend
the caterpillar hood won't cover the head
and you know you should be home in bed

It's no good holding your sequined fan where I can't see
because I understand that you're different from me
yes I can tell that you can't be what you pretend
yes you're spinning around and around
in a car with electric lights flashing very fast...

Find out how to download some of Syd's unreleased music for free here.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Flicker, flicker, flicker, blam, POW!
ELECTRIC LIGHTS FLASHING VERY FAST

9:39 am  

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