Syd Barrett is perhaps the best known acid casualty, whose brief time in the limelight is itself a well-worn cautionary tale about 60's drug culture and its hedonistic excess. Barrett was the original leader and primary songwriter of Pink Floyd, back when the group was oft-referred to by a prefacing article as The Pink Floyd. As it was, The Floyd's first long player, 1967's The Piper at the Gates of Dawn shows off the group's original incarnation as a psychedelic pop group, marrying Barrett's playfully childish lyricism with tightly-crafted songcraft.
This song, "Jugband Blues" was Barrett's last substantial contribution to the group and his only songwriting credit on the band's sophomore effort, A Saucerful of Secrets. It's evident in viewing of this seldom-seen promotional film how barely functional Barrett was by this point. Only a short time later, Syd would be dismissed from the group altogether and replaced by friend David Gilmour. Barett released two cult classic solo albums, which, despite studio trickery, reveal in horrifying detail his unstable mental state. After 1970's Barrett, the troubled musician drifted into a life of total reclusion from which he never surfaced. His death in 2006 only underscored the sadness of his mental decline and set off a fresh round of speculation as to what he could have produced had he not so precipitously burned out at such a young age.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
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I don't know if it was the acid trips that set him over the edge or not. Maybe he was already on the edge and acid just pushed him on over. Some people do drugs in order to self medicate. In other words, they are already ill and are trying to fix themselves. Even so, there was a lot I liked about Syd's songs.
You're exactly right, but he gets so much notoriety as being someone who totally fried his brain on LSD that I felt it deserved a mention.
I'm more inclined to believe, as you do, that he may have had an emotional disorder that was worsened considerably by the drugs, particularly acid.
Syd had a solid sense of songcraft, that's for sure. In a prior generation, he could have been a Brill Building type songwriter for hire.
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