Do you think we’ll ever get tired of recounting and re-hearing the tale of the genesis of Pink Floyd and the saga of Syd Barrett? I’m pretty sure I won’t ever get tired of it, and based on the flurry of Syd-related tweets and whatnot today, on what would have been his 68th birthday, I’m obviously not alone. It’s a tragedy of Shakespearian proportions – beautiful young genius conceives an idea for music that’s entirely fresh and innovative, blows his mind out on LSD and/or breaks down from some nebulous form of mental illness, and fades away to live out his days in relative obscurity, leaving the rest of the band to figure out how to carry out his vision and continue his legacy. The band then goes on to become arguably the greatest in the history of rock ‘n roll, while the broken genius shuns any public attention and lives humbly in a small home, whiling away the days drawing and painting and walking to the market and so forth. Just thinking about it now makes me want to shake my head sadly and lower it slowly into my sorrowful hands, if you know what I mean.
Most Floydians know the story of how Syd weirdly showed up out of the blue at Abbey Road Studios during the recording of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”, a song that was clearly written as a tribute to him. Here is the story of that event. Just thinking about it blows my mind. I mean, they hadn’t seen him in years, and on the day that they are completing the final mix on this particular song, he just shows up. His appearance and behavior was so bizarre that Roger Waters broke down in tears. And that was the last time they ever saw him. Life is strange, y’all, and I’m telling ya now, I don’t much believe in coincidences.
Our fellow blogger, MetalGuruMessiah, has created several outstanding Pink Floyd videos, which were subsequently disabled on YouTube, but strangely again, have become available just in time for Syd’s birthday. Enjoy this amazing video and the beautiful “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”, the full thing, parts 1-9. I think this is possibly Mr. Messiah’s greatest video masterpiece. Now take a trip and never leave the farm.
As you know, I generally have a story for every song, or a song for every story, however you want to look at it, and this time’s no exception. I can’t listen to Wish You Were Here without thinking about the time when a sweet boyfriend of mine, a shy classical guitarist, showed up at my apartment on a Friday afternoon, his old brown mustang packed with camping equipment, and asked me if I wanted to go with him, which I did. We spent the weekend deep in the woods by a rocky creek, listening to Pink Floyd on a battery-operated boom box. I remember that he heated some water from the clear creek on the camp stove and washed my long hair for me, very carefully, and combed it out. And I probably shouldn’t have told that story, because now I wish he was here.
Happy Birthday, Syd, however near or how far you may be.
You shone like the sun.
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