Passing anecdotes and thoughts on politics, history, lit, sports or whatever...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Syd Barret

I see that I have been chastized for not writing on my blog enough. Well, my lame excuse is that work was a bit frantic for awhile... I am rededicating myself!

I am really sad to see that Syd Barret passed away a few days ago. Here is a story at the BBC:

Syd Barret was one of the most influential and brilliant musicians to emerge in the 1960's. He started Pink Floyd while in art school in 1965: they were the offspring of his original unsuccessful project the Abdabs. Most of the quality music he wrote came within a 6 month period. Although he completely lost his mind by 1968, he managed to record some brilliant instrumental and pop works. At first his lyrics have a sing-song melodic appeal, but always with an unsettling undercurrent:

Jugband Blues - It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here
And I'm much obliged to you for making it clear that I'm not here.
And I never knew the moon could be so big
And I never knew the moon could be so blue
And I'm grateful that you threw away my old shoes
And brought me here instead dressed in red
And I'm wondering who could be writing this song.
I don't care if the sun don't shine
And I don't care if nothing is mine
And I don't care if I'm nervous with you
I'll do my loving in the winter.
And the sea isn't green
And I love the Queen
And what exactly is a dream
And what exactly is a joke.

The catatonic, meditative guitar sequences punctuate all of his pop and instrumental pieces. He develops a stacato- violent improvisational strain, that fades in an out of white noise, in the long intstrumental "Interstellar Overdrive." "Astronomy Domine" is similar in theme, featuring an ominous and expansive instrumental break. Barret broods the wistfully melancholic Joyce poem, "Golden Hair," capturing an elusive moment as it passes.

He is also the subject of many tales the must border on urban myth. One describes how he is questioned on live television, but does not answer. He begins to slowly lunge toward the camera in silence with a blank look on his face until the network cuts to another piece. Another story emerges that states: he poured out a jar of Mandrax, smashed the pills into tiny pieces and mixed the crumbs in with a jar of Brylcreem. He then poured the bizarre concoction onto his head and walked on stage. As he was playing, the pill-paste started to melt under the heat of the stage-lighting and dribbled down from his scalp so that it looked like his face was melting. He would refuse to get off the tour bus, only to come up on stage and stare into space, playing the same chord over and over again. Unfortunately, I have also read that he would hit his girlfriend as he inched closer to madness.

In the end, he lived an anonymous life in Cambridge; I believe that he lived with his mother for quite sometime. It is sad to see him go.


At 2:42 PM, Blogger beth said...

you posted!
(i am supposed to be learning powerpoint, so i cant read it now) but YAY!


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