Temples: Why Syd Barrett Was A True British Genius

Invariably described as madcap or acid-riddled, there is so much more to the Pink Floyd founding member...
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Invariably described as madcap or acid-riddled, there is so much more to the Pink Floyd founding member...

words by Adam Smith


I have a picture of Syd Barrett above my bed, I also have one in my wallet, though the one in my wallet isn't framed.

The name Syd Barrett is usually branded with the word 'madcap' or with exaggerated stories of him turning up at Pink Floyd recording sessions jumping up and down brushing his teeth whilst wearing stilettos and playing a yoyo or something. This is not what's interesting about Barrett. I think Barrett's work, with Pink Floyd and post-Floyd, are works of art, they are not the synaptic noodlings of a madman or whatever people like to call them. He experimented with acid, but who didn't in the late 60s/early70s? Barrett's story is a sad one, but I'd like to concentrate on the music.

For structure's sake, I'll ask myself some questions.

What is your favourite Pink Floyd song of Barrett's?

As a band, I think I can safely say that 'Flaming' on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is a certain hit and should be played on repeat in our rental van.

What is your favourite song of Barrett's solo stuff?

Mine is definitely 'Wolfpack'. If you haven't heard it, please take the time to stick on the record Barrett and listen to this rotating cacophony of brilliance. It really is like nothing heard before, or after for that matter.

Favourite Barrett lyric?

From the song 'Feel' which is also on the album Barrett:  'How I leave on the waddling wheel, they flail, a gasp shringing, a bad bell's ringing the Angel, the daughter.' I love the way that his rhyming lyrics never seem too forced. Another great lyric that comes to mind is 'Braver and braver, a handkerchief waver' from the song 'It Is Obvious'.

Favourite picture of Barrett?

The picture of him in his flat in London looking up at the camera with his record player and the notorious floorboards partly-painted. Taken by Mick Rock I think.

What is it exactly that you love about Syd Barrett?

As a band, we love him and his work because he was a complete individual who approached music in his own way. His love of art and literature are represented in his music without any kind of pretension. His lyrics are incredibly clever and unusual, yet charming. He was experimental in his lyric writing, taking bits and bobs from here and there, which for me is a huge influence. For this reason, many of his lyrics are misconstrued as nutty or the result of too much acid. I say this is a load of rubbish. I love Barrett for many reasons, but as an Englishman, I appreciate him for his mixture of silly colloquialisms and intelligent language and the fact that he never put on an accent like half of the 'nu-folk'/fake Scottish/American twangy English bands that we hear at the moment.

Barrett for me is an English Rose and one that people should take the time to appreciate if they haven't already. I mean this in the least EDL way possible.

It wasn't long ago (7th July) that it was the 7th anniversary of Barrett's death. Rest in peace. We love you.

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