You can call some of the most original artists “Free Form” “Avant-Garde” and try to put it in a box of descriptions. People express the beauty of John Coltrain’s wonderous work. I am a fan of Outside music and Outside thinkers. I hope someday Syd Barrett is brought out of the Cult Following. That Cult is Larger every year, after Syd’s unfortunate death in 2006 and The Tribute given him by former bandmates of Pink Floyd at Live 8.
Were we to stumble across the Two albums released the same year in 1970 “The Madcap Laughs” and “Barrett” and had no point of reference to Syd’s True first album being Floyd’s “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, The name of the artist might not be as well known, but the Music contained would remain as important. Going back to “Piper”, That was Syd’s album as well. There would not have been a name “Pink Floyd” and possibly never a band.
It was a very English style of project full of Whimsical works and songs reminiscent of Children” fairy tales that could not be penned by any other.In Due respect Of the Floyd, they were harsh in his dismissal, but They rightfully and respectfully kept helping their childhood friend in the studio on the solo Syd Projects and made sure the remainder of his life he was paid his Musical Royalties.
The discussions that Syd was truly mad and unhinged I personally think are easier to state than what the Truth may actually have been. I think Syd Barrett did what he wanted to do by design. When you hear ” Here I go” it’s not the ravings of an Acid Casualty, it’s a well-crafted Love song, Highly structured and Melodic and Lyrically clear. In the dissonance of “No good trying” He is clearly saying “For I can tell that you can’t be what you pretend.” Yet He could be whatever he wished, and that may be the secret.
Syd as a Guitarist was eclectic. Be it the soundscapes of his Danelectro Electric on “Interstellar Overdrive” or any number of songs on acoustic from the Dark beauty of “Golden Hair” he made the guitar wear as many masks as were required for the play.
He was in the world of guitar an innovator. He was not a virtuoso for the only reason he didn’t want to be. That already existed in the Clapton’s and Beck era and those were the times he was a Captain of the ship in Pink Floyd. Who knows how good he truly was or who he truly was behind the locked door. He used the guitar to deliver what he felt necessary in creating music that would be written about today. He wasn’t the Guitar Hero, but the guitar was many tools to build the work. The Rhythm to the larger majority of work was set by the Guitar, the rest fell in after. The same approach in that The Stones followed the guitar of Keith Richards. For one called out of control he certainly was in control of the creative process.
His Fender Telecaster was also a visual tool, with mirrored Circles to reflect light. Jimmy Page Employed this same thought. I’m not sure who did it first but regardless It speaks to the knowledge he had of the many facets a guitar can be.
I think back to a preliminary meeting I had on my own career where Image was discussed. I was intrigued by the Gentleman’s suggestion that I be a “Mysterioso ” not all be known about me. I think Syd had this in his head from the moment of disillusionment with the Pop industry. Leave the scene possibly not as the old saying goes “Leave them wanting more” but perhaps “Leave them wondering why.”Do not forget when the term Mad Genius has used the Genius part.
After the death of Syd Barrett, I wrote a few words Which became the foundation for a piece I called “Dead Diamond” Amber brightly shining, in your room darkly Divining. Treading the backward path, 25 a Madcap Laugh” The 25 I have no answer for. Again another mystery as to when you watch Led Zeppelin’s “The Song Remains The Same” Robert Plant is just randomly throwing “25” in during periods of “Dazed and Confused”.
I’m not going to go so far as to say that there were no ill ramifications from Syd’s Use of Psychedelics, which by all accounts was pretty vast. Nor will I claim he had no mental issues. Truth is none of us knows.
The only one who knew was Syd himself. I think when the band talks about trying to film top of the pops or some similar program and he would be instructed to mime the song, he would cooperate during the rehearsal and when called “Action” for the real filming just stand there motionless, He knew exactly what he was doing. He was taking a stand against what he didn’t like.
By accounts, his Last contribution to the Floyd being “Jugband Blues” has been described as nonsense. I don’t find it totally accurate. When the very last words a man writes in a situation at an end as the Bands relationship stood are “And What exactly is a dream, and What exactly is a joke?” I think he is telling them and us something.
Locked in a room with Syd Barrett
For the Larger world, Syd Barrett will be unproperly defined in history as the tortured artist and drug casualty because it’s the easy way to be done with it. I think one does not look much more than the title of “The Madcap Laughs”. I believe he may have been so intelligent to know he had broken through and become an accomplished writer and an Icon and had established an income to sustain him his lifetime, and thought “I don’t have to do this anymore”. When he became artistically satisfied as himself in music, he moved into other works of art such as Painting where he was the decision-maker and could live by his own rules.
I think Syd Barrett has underestimated not only the works he left us, which I and so many enjoy and never tire of…I think he was underestimated in that he didn’t need to fake his own death to escape the confinement of the music industry, he just needed to find a way out by accentuating the already rumor mill of his mental state. I think the old boy, the Madcap, did exactly what he wanted and ultimately had the last laugh on the ones he wanted to. Exit stage left…. go for ice cream, and let the rest of them wonder Perpetually.