Shine On You Crazy Diamond


Syd Barrett is dead. And I thought he’d been dead for years, too. Weird.


Comments: 24


In the spirit of the recent YouTube wars, here are a couple early Floyd clips from the Barrett era…

Arnold Layne

See Emily Play

This is so different from the Floyd that I grew up with during the Dark Side of the Moon / Wish You Were Here years. I remember buying the first Pink Floyd album (and Barrett’s odd solo record, The Madcap Laughs) as a kid and being (largely pleasantly) surprised. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Floyd in the ’70s (what self-respecting white American male didn’t?). But I also had a taste for ’60s psychedelia, and that was what Syd Barrett was all about.

I always wondered how Barrett — and the band — would have developed their sound had he not had a breakdown. The Barrett material is great, but very much of its period.


There was a rumor going around here (NJ) that Sid was gonna tour with the Band in September of this year. So much for that.


BTW, those clips I linked to are really there for the music. They’re both of the “band screwing around in a home movie” style that was the dominant post-Hard Day’s Night promotional clip genre. And they were made after Barrett had left the band, so Syd himself does not appear in them (though he’s heard in both recordings).


Weak! His solo stuff was spotty, as expected, but he had some of the loveliest songs this side of Robyn Hitchcock. I hope this doesn’t portend the loss of Austin’s most famous drug casualty, Roky Erickson.


SInce schizophrenia usually hits you in your early 20s, I wonder if the LSD just helped hasten the inevitable. Maybe he was going to lose his mind anyway.

Having had a couple of friends with mental health problems – one manic depressive, and the other schizophrenic – it’s a real drag to watch someone losing it and not be able to stop it.

What a drag.


Who could ever argue with “The Effervescing Elephant”, “Gigolo Aunt”, “Here I Go” or the crazed and fun “Love You”*–or, even, the abortive insanity of “Opel” tracks like “Dollyrocker”?

Elsewhere (and on “Opel”, actually), Syd sang:
Oh where are you now
Pussy willow that smiled on this leaf
When I was alone
You promised a stone from your heart…

…Please lift a hand
I’m only a person
with Eskimo chain
I’ve tattooed my brain all the way…

OK, that was a bit irrelevant, but it’s a pretty song nonetheless. It’s relevant part:

Wouldn’t you miss me?
Wouldn’t you miss me at all?

Yes, Syd, indeed.

* You know, this one: “Honey love you, love you honey, lots of honey, sunny morning, love you more fun love in the skyline baby, ice cream, ‘scuse me, I seen you lookin’ good the other evening…” The rest of the band constantly stuggling to keep up with Syd’s ever-changing tempo… classic.


Poor Syd.

It took probably 10 billion mics of LSD to get him to go batshit and move into his Mom’s basement, while for, say, Adam Yoshida no acid is necessary.

Plus, Syd had talent, though prog-symp that I am, I much prefer post-Syd Floyd.


I’m sorry to hear that. Pink Floyd is one of my all-time favorite bands.

Awesome videos, BenA!


I remember reading an interview with one of the guys from Hipgnosis, who described how he and everybody else used to mess with poor Syd while he was tripping. For example, Syd once locked himself in a closet downstairs, and the guys upstairs knew he understood Morse code, so they started tapping out crazy messages on a pipe he would’ve been leaning against in the tiny closet.

It’s all fun and games while you’re tripping.


You’re not the only one who thought Barrett was dead.

Waaay back, Roger Waters played a video clip of “Arnold Layne” during a show and the place went nuts. Waters quietly muttered “God bless you Syd. Lest we forget”.



Rest in peace, Syd. He has been out of the picture and out of his mind for so long that many assumed, as you did, that he was already dead. One of my faves, too.


Shouldn’t the post be entitled, Piper at the Gates of Dawn”? Since that was Barrett-era album and Diamond was a Gilmour era?

No nit too small to pick, as I think we’ve learned from the monster threads on ConYank.


Well, actually, “Wish You Were Here” was dedicated to Barrett, so it’s still relevant. No nit is too small!

verplanck colvin

Shine on You Crazy Diamond was dedicated to Syd, IIRC.

This is rather odd, since for some reason I found myself reading Syd’s bio on Wikipedia last night.

I hope he found some peace and quiet in his final years.


Plus, Syd had talent, though prog-symp that I am, I much prefer post-Syd Floyd.

Post-Syd Floyd is a lot more listenable, though Floyd’s first three albums are damn fascinating in their own right.


“Fascinating” is one word for it. Is it just me, or does that kind of early music from that kind of legendary band (as I said, one of my faves) take on a sort of mystical, hipper-than-thou quality? My first thought listening to it as a young teen (in the mid-nineties) was “Gee, I better like this, or I must not have any taste at all.” Nevertheless, I still kinda liked it.

Then I heard Sonic Youth, and swore never to listen to dissonant noise again. If I’m going to subject myself to some high-fallutin’ mystical hump dance, it’s gonna be from legends, not snot-nosed brats.

[/rant] Uh…sorry about that.


I think a lot of us thought he was dead, part of his mythology. Rest hi spirit. Sorry I don’t know how to do youtube but these snot-nosed brats have a gentle song to sing.

Television Personalities:

There’s a little man in a little house
With a little pet dog and a little pet mouse
I know where he lives and I visit him
We have sunday tea, sausages and beans
I know where he lives
Cause I know where Syd Barrett lives

He was very famous once upon a time
But no one knows even if he’s alive
But I know where he lives and I visit him
In a little hut in Cambridge
I know where he lives
Cause I know where Syd Barrett lives

And the trees and the flowers are so pretty, aren’t they?

He was very famous once upon a time
And no one cares even if he’s alive (we do)
But I know where he lives and I visit him
In a little hut by the edge of the wood

Oh shut up!


Sonic Youth snot nosed brats? They’re all in their 50s, a little old to be called snot nosed brats. The early Floyd is the best, even post-Syd early Floyd.


And does anyone else find it ironic that Syd dies on the day that the results of a Johns Hopkins study on psylocibin inducing religious experience are announced?


Well, okay, “snot-nosed brats” isn’t right. How about “officious self-important narcissistic nihilists”? If I wanted dissonance, I’d make it myself – you’re supposed to be musically…

You see, this is why I didn’t want to do this. Look what you made me do!


By most accounts of the few people that were still in his life, Roger Barrett (aka Syd) was alright mentally in his last years; he was never going to be the same lad he was pre-Floyd but he wasn’t the drooling crazyman that he was portrayed as either. He lead a very quiet life and since the rest of the Floyd were very diligent about getting him his royalty payments on time, he never wanted for material things.

Though as a total prog rock symp I love Animals more than any other Pink Floyd album, I love the first two albums and the non-album singles (Arnold Layne, covered brilliantly by Bowie on Pin Ups, and See Emily Play, Candy and a Currant Bun and Apples and Oranges). I don’t like his two solo albums, but I haven’t listened to them in years, so it’d be a good to give them another spin.

I love the Mandrax story.

It was one the very last gigs he did with Pink Floyd. He was prone to turning up and just strumming one chord all night and all that. So, the rest of the band left to go on stage, leaving Syd alone in the dressing room. He was really in to Mandrax (marketed as Quaaludes in the US, a nasty drug). He took a bunch of the Mandies he had with him, crushed them up, put them in the jar of hair gel he used, mixed the whole thing in to a nice goo, poured it on his head, grabbed his guitar and went on stage. The heat from the lights caused the goo to melt, giving the look of his face melting. Given that it was 1968, it’s a good bet that 98% of the audience was blazing on acid, so that must have been something to see.


I, too, posted about Syd at my place.


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