“Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.”
I grow up listening to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin; these were by far my two favourite bands. I started listening to Pink Floyd when I was in the sixth grade or so around 1996. The general consensus among everyone, radio DJs, music critics, casual fans, hardcore Pink Floyd fans, and me, was that there were three pinnacle albums to own by Pink Floyd “Wish you were here,” “Dark Side of the Moon,” and “The Wall.” I was always curious about their other eleven albums but with few exceptions I never really got into them. One day I had the mixed fortunate of catching “Piper at the gates of Dawn,” on much music retro, and all I could think was “what is this shit?” I then learned that the general consensus was also that, Syd Barrett sucked.
When Pink Floyd started out they did not have David Gilmour as lead, they had a drugged up idiot named Syd Barrett. Syd Barrett went on to do acid every day for a year and after guess what, brain damage. Roger Waters, Richard Wright, and Nick Mason really missed their friend but carried on with Gilmour anyway. Everything made sense, Syd Barrett did drugs and wrote bad music and as soon as he was gone the rest of Pink Floyd got their act together and produced three of the best classic rock albums of all time, makes sense right?
Then Syd Barrett died.
Barrett managed to live to the age of sixty 1946-2006, and at the time of his death humanity being the shallow petty creatures we are for some reason had to pretend that Barrett’s life meant more than a stupid ass who destroyed his brain with drugs, idiots started to believe he was a genius, and slowly but surely I started to hear people say that Pink Floyd was nothing without Syd Barrett.
How could anyone possibly believe that? Pink Floyd without Syd Barrett became arguably the second greatest rock band of all time, how could the junk produced beforehand even be compared to the powerhouse triptych of “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Wish you were here,” and “The Wall.” It’s amazing the lies people tell themselves to feel better about death, even the death of a man they never knew and had no reason to like. But the story gets worse; I slowly realized that Pink Floyd took a long time to get their act together after Barrett’s demise, three albums to be exact. You see Syd Barrett’s involvement in Pink Floyd really only existed on their first album “Piper at the gates of Dawn.” He was sort of around for the second album “A Saucerful of Secrets,” but by that point he was brain dead. So when people kiss dead people’s asses and tell you Syd Barrett was the real genius of Pink Floyd they are indirectly telling you that “Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” is a better album than “Wish you were here,” “Dark Side of the Moon,” and “The Wall,” combined, and seriously how is anyone that stupid?
To be perfectly honest, “Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” isn’t terrible, but that’s the problem with greatness, we aren’t comparing “Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” to the average musical album, or even the average classic rock album, if we were it would be below average and we would be done with it, but we have to compare it to the rest of Pink Floyd’s discography and compared to everything past “Meddle,” “Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” is garbage.
Something good did come from Barrett’s existence however, and that was the positive impression he left on Roger Waters. Waters is inarguably the main man behind Pink Floyd and apparently he really loved his friend Syd, not only does Waters constantly give Barrett credit for lots of his own hard work, but wrote multiple tributes to his friend.
The most memorable tribute to Syd Barrret was the album “Wish you were here,” with the title track quite point blank referring to Barrett. The cover art should have given away something as well, two men shaking hands goodbye, one of them on fire.
Pink Floyd’s music was always psychedelic, long adventures into the minds of calm madness, and the best song on “Wish you were here,” to capture that is “Shine on you Crazy Diamond,” another song about Syd.
Thanking Syd Barrett for Pink Floyd is like thanking anthrax for Louis Pasteur, or thanking slavery for Mark Twain. While the members of Pink Floyd may hold Syd Barrett and all they shared with him dear it was not Syd Barrett who was a friend to them, rather Pink Floyd was the best friend of Syd Barrett, we would have no idea who Syd Barrett was if it wasn’t for them, they also loved him so much they wrote some of the greatest classic rock music ever about him.
Until next month, keep on rocking in the free world.
- Colin Kelly