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the legend of syd barrett:


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One of the most influential musical artists of the 20th century died this week. Many people might associate Syd Barrett with the flower power mod happenings of the summer of Love. Or as the founder of Pink Floyd and leading contributor to Psychedelic Rock, but I've always I placed him in that small cardre of slightly (or perhaps not so slightly) demented yet undeniably creative dark geniuses right alongside Edgar Allan Poe and Modigiliani. It was his solo career recordings where this becomes most evident. And although his solo stuff isn't "psychadelic" like his stuff with Pink Floyd was, the songwriting is no less unique. Many of his solo tracks seem simple (some are accompanied by nothing but guitar), but they become more complicated on repeated listening. And his lyrics can at times seem childlike (similar to those from Pipers at the Gates of Dawn and his other work with Pink Floyd) but accompanied by his urgently haunted voice and versatile melodies, these child-like lyrics convey a gammit of images, emotions, and ideas. But even beyond that, there was something that seperated Barrett's music from anything else I can think of it, and that was its ability to invites you into the dark corridors and inner sanctum of his tormentedly creative mind--which sometimes makes listening to him rather a challenge. Oftentimes you can hear the germ of an amazing song in a Barrett composition--but then as the listener you must take that frightful and unknwingly leap into your own imagination and fill out the flesh on these skeletal socnic sketches. Its comparable to Modigliani leaving off detail on the hands of his subject matters in his paintings. He leaves that to you. The effect this has on Barrett's music is abandonment--but in the best possible sense of the word. Inside his own mind he has heard these incredbile song, only he just hasnt figured out how to materialize them. For some reason he just never follows through--his concentration is off to the next tangent before he can finish the laborioius chore of capturing that song verbatim as it sounds inside his head. This leaves the listener the liscense to finish Syd's 'abandoned' work in your own head or by humming, singing, or making various noises. A process that somehow makes for an incredibly enjoyable listening experience--(possibly even more enjoyable than if he really would have followed through and completed the songs). Barrett's dark genius often was misunderstood and to many he wil be remembered as the posterboy for the term ''Acid Casualty'. This in part is due to the fact that Barrett turned his back on recording music in the early 70s. Maybe I'm just biased, but I really havent heard anything so bizzare about his behavior that is any worse than what hundreds of other rock stars throughout history have done. Barrett liked to tinker about in his garden and he lived with his mother. So what? It sounds to me that he just lost interest in going through the "process" of recording music... Who knows, maybe he created masterpieces that no one will ever hear every night while tinkering around in his living room with an accoustic guitar...or maybe he had a million masterpieces floating through his mind as he weeded the garden each morning. Whatever the case, I'm eternally thankful that he at least shared a glimpse of his brilliance with the rest of the world and that we will always be able to listen to it whenever the mood suits us.

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PaulEd, do you write obituaries for a living?

Just my own...

Were you a fan of Barretts?

There are a lot of wierd syncronicity type of things between happenings in my life and syd barrett music (maybe I just look for these things0. The most recent happened about a week ago when I couldnt get my 6 month old baby to stop crying. For the life of me, I tried everything--he wasnt hungy, he wasnt sleepy, didnt have to burp, didnt have to poop, but for some reason he was just irritable as all hell. I tried picking him up, putting him down, breaking out all his favorit toys, his chew toy, everything. Finally I just held him in my arms and very softly started singing, "I wast to tell you a story, about a little man...if I can...a gnome named grimble grumble, and little gnomes stay in their homes..." and the kid just gave me the most inquisitive look and then a big smile. Every day since then that has been the song I sing to him right before nap time...

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And his lyrics can at times seem childlike but accompanied by his urgently haunted voice and versatile melodies, these child-like lyrics convey a gammit of images, emotions, and ideas.

Nice post Paul, I agree with your view on his material, when viewed as a solo aspect.

And I might add, I don't really consider his talent among the leagues of Gilmore or Waters', but he's still gifted & very influent. He was (IMO) kicked/left-behind from Pink Floyd at the right time, his signature recording material & songwriting (mixed by his Lysargic Acid usage & nutty coo-koo :stars:) was keeping the band from displaying their traditional diverse aptitude in the studio. If he had stayed in the band, Darkside of the Moon would've sounded like a lolly~pop jamboree rather than a timeless melody.

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