slavetothestage: (procrastinators unite)
[personal profile] slavetothestage
So the other day my good friend Martin picked up an issue of Rolling Stone from last year. He flipped through the pages until he came to an article on Syd Barrett, the infamous recluse and founder of Pink Floyd, and handed it to me. The first thing that struck me was the picture, centered on the page, of a young man with sunken, haunted eyes. He was attractive, somehow beautiful, with disheveled black hair and the look of someone needing saving. I looked around online and found the picture here, although the quality isn't as good as in the magazine.

I wasn't familiar with Syd Barrett. I knew who he was, but my recent introduction to Pink Floyd hadn't reached their earliest albums. But this article managed to make me fall for this hurting, disturbed man who, in 1971, would tell Rolling Stone that he had "a very irregular head." His heavy involvement with drugs, particularly LSD, obviously was a huge component of his decline, but, in a way, it was also a symptom of a mind already failing. He was removed from the band when his behavior become unmanageable and he eventually turned into a recluse. It seems impossible to manage in the high-profile rock and roll community, but the last time his own band-mates saw him was in the 70's. And the man lived until 2006.

So tonight I put on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Pink Floyd's debut album and their only album in which Barrett wrote most of the songs (all but one, in fact, which was written by Roger Waters, who would take over as the main songwriter in the group after Barrett's departure, plus two instrumentals that were collaborative efforts by all the bandmembers). It's strange to put it on after being introduced to Pink Floyd via The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon, because the sound is entirely different. The truth is that it is entirely Syd Barrett. The lyrics are strange, slightly schizophrenic, and have the fluid, illogical flow of a person rambling from thought to thought without the benefit of transitions. Yet the songs are fascinating and somehow captivating, as if to say, "This man was pretty brilliant, but he doesn't have it in him to do this for very long. Listen while you can." It's a man before a breakdown: Barrett only contributed one song to Pink Floyd's next album, and it reads like a farewell: "It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here / And I'm most obliged to you for making it clear that I'm not here."

Trouble rock and roll stars certainly aren't uncommon. In fact, rockers who DON'T mess with drugs, sex, and alcohol seem to be out of the norm. I think that the case of Syd Barrett is the most strange because, really, it seems like he should have died years ago. His family has been very private about his problems, both physical and psychological, and that's probably for the best. It's known that he died from complications with diabetes, but whatever caused that haunted look in his eyes is something deeply, intensely personal. It's not fair for the public to expect anyone to open that up and share it with the world. Let it simply be known that he was a man clearly troubled his own life but whatever personal demons he was unfortunate enough to have. I can only hope that he found some peace and happiness in his life of quiet seclusion.

Date: 2007-05-19 10:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
oh taryn!!! it's so good to hear from you too! I missed everyone so much! it's great to be back. we'll see each other at some point. who knows when nowadays. but we will. i promise. i miss you lots. byes!!


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