Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"By the way, which one's Pink?"

Today the death of one of the most important musicians of the 20th century was announced. You may never have heard of him, Syd Barrett. Mr. Barrett was a founding member of Pink Floyd and responsible for writing all of their early singles and most of their first album, “The Piper At the Gates of Dawn.” “Piper” is one of the most if not THE most original debut albums. Not even The Floyd have done anything like it since, even though their second album “A Saucer Full of Secrets” was an attempt to copy that magic. Shortly after the release of their first album Syd’s behavior became increasingly erratic. At first this behavior was written off as being humorous rebellion against the establishment. No one suspected the truth until it was too late. Syd’s family history and his use of LSD proved to be a volatile mixture. Most agree that Syd was susceptible to becoming scizophrenic, the Acid guaranteed his massive break with reality.

After Pink Floyd Syd released some solo albums that contain flashes of brilliance, but it is well hidden under layers of chaos. Early Pink Floyd fans that loved them before they had a record deal believed that the band died with Syd’s departure. That of course is an opinion, but there is little doubt that without Syd Barrett there COULD NOT be a Pink Floyd.

Mr. Barrrett was such a larger than life figure his influence on the band would be felt long after the band decided NOT to pick him up for a gig and let their then rhythm guitarist, David Gilmour take center stage. Syd is the lunitic on the grass in “Dark Side of the Moon.” Syd is the Crazy Diamond and in fact the entire inspiration for the Pink Floyd masterpiece “Wish You Were Here.” Syd is at least half of the Pink character that is the protagonist/anti-hero of “The Wall” album.

Today, WXRT Chicago’s most progressive radio station played “See Emily Play” in tribute to the lost genius. It was great to hear that on the radio, too bad it had to be under such unfortunate circumstances.

"Shine on You Crazy Diamond!"