Friday, April 15, 2005

New Musical Express

What a life! Who would imagine that the brilliant song-writer from the Pink Floyd band, Syd Barrett would turn out into a schizophreniac, dement and crazy guy, which is basically the same thing. In the article called "New Musical Express" written by Nick Kent and published on April 13, 1974; the author talks about the strange tales, stories and anecdotes which surrounded the life of the legendary classic rock musician from the classic rock band Pink Floyd: the unforgotten Syd Barrett.

Some of this tales, anecdotes and stories are only fiction, while others are fact. But the author took the time to interview a lot of people who were close to Syd. Some of them are David Gilmour, from the Floyd, Peter Jenner and Jonh "Hoppy" Hopkins, Pink Floyd's managers. Storm, a fellow townsman who was a well respected record-sleeve design company who had a close and solid relationship all along with the Floyd.

Storm told the author that he remembers Syd as a bright, extrovert kid, smoked dope, pulled chicks, the usual things. He had no problems on the surface. He was no introvert as Storm could see back then. Storm also told Nick Kent that Syd wanted to get involved in an obscure form of eastern mysticism known as "Sant Saji" which involved heavy bouts of meditation and much contemplation on purity and inner light. Syd attempted to involve himself in faith, but he was turned out for being too young. According to Storm, this affected Syd quite deeply.

The thing with religion was responsible of the great phobia about age, that Syd always had. As soon as he lost his interest in spiritualism, he also gave up his painting. Gilmour said that even though Barrett's painting showed exceptional potential, because he was a great artist, he just stopped. First the religion, then the painting. Syd was starting to shut himself off slowly then.

But Syd was amazingly a great artist. His inventiveness was quite outstanding. All the songs they had when they first started, where written by him in no more than six months. His influences were very much of the Stones and the Beatles. But strange things started to happen when "See Emily Play" was on Top Five and the manager wanted to take it to the Top of The Pops. One time Jonh Lennon stated publicly that he wouldn't appear on Top of The Pops. Syd seemed to envisage Lennon as some sort of yardstick by which to measure himself, and he always complained that John Lennon owned a house, while he only had a flat.

The author states that after those things happening to Syd, there were far darker manifestations of a definite impending imbalnace in the Barrett psyche. Syd had a relationship with girl named Lynsey, and he would beat her up and lock her in a room. After Syd was more in drugs, his head would tilt back slightly, the eyes would get misty and bloated. They would stare right at you and right through you at the same time.

The boy genius was fast becoming mentally totally unhinged. Perhaps it was the drugs. But Syd dilemma streched back to certain chidhood traumas. Peter Jenner said in this interview that he thinks the managers tended to underrate the extend of his problems. Jenner himself regrets to have made demands on Syd to pressure him into a state of paranoia about having to come up with another hit single. His madness was too much to handle. He just couldn't be communicated with. Syd actually knew what was happening to him, and Jug Band Blues was the ultimate self-diagnosison a state of schizophrenia.
During nationwide tours Syd often wouldn't turn up on time, sometimes didn't play at all, sat by himself on the tour coach. Did't talk to anyone. He was into this thing of total anarchistic experiment and never really considered the other members of the band.

What happened to the Pink Floyd is history, they survived and flourished off on their own more electronic tangent, while Syd didn't. All the stories told to Nick Kent were from semi-authentic sources. More than likely, most of them are total fabrications. One thing though appears to be clear; Syd Barrett was unable to write songs or like Jenner said:"Either that or he wrote songs and wouldn't show them to anyone." And it's ironic, he's much bigger now as the silent cult-figure doing thenothing than he was when functioning.

Still, some people claim that Syd was on a higher cosmic level, but basically there was something drastically wrong, and it's a tragedy- a great tragedy because he was an innovator. One of the three or four greats along with Dylan. Jenner knew it was something definately wrong with Syd because he wasn't happy. But it was all part of being a "legend i n your own lifetime."


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