Understanding Syd Barrett’s ‘genius’…..
Last weekend BBC4 re-ran a documentary on the early Pink Floyd years, circa 1967 to 1969. It was largely end to end concert footage from their early European tour and television shows but the format allowed the viewer to better understand how the band evolved into one of rock music’s biggest ever bands.
Following on from a programme on London’s Roundhouse theatre which hosted many a strange show in the sixties, the Floyd documentary reminded me of my long-held (thirty five years a Floyd fan) perplexity about rock music’s continued love-fest for Syd Barrett. I find those early tracks near impossible to listen to, Barrett was good but a genius in an era which gave us Hendrix, Lennon-McCartney and Dylan is stretching it a bit.
So why the continued fascination and adulation? I can only put it down to Barrett being a casualty of the flower power generation, a once handsome young man a la Jim Morrison, a young man who took drug use to a new level which led to mental health issues and life as a recluse until his premature death in 2006. It seems a near obligation to over enthuse about his work and contribution to Pink Floyd but few can honestly believe he could have written a Dark Side of the Moon or The Wall, surely? Yes, he was a founding member and yes, they had a hit single with See Emily Play but ask anyone at those early gigs who wasn’t tripping (if one exists) who saw Barrett ‘perform’ (or not as the case may be) and a better understanding of his contribution might be understood.
Most of the major rock bands took their fair share of drugs and drink and most had that one who took more than most (Bonham, Moon, Kossoff, Morrisson, Ozzy, Jones etc) who went on to become the late, loveable hero in the fans eyes. I can’t help but think they must have been a pain in the arse for their band mates, studio engineers, rock promoters and, ultimately, the fans who endured less than historic live performances. Waters might be a grouch but no one can question his contribution. Not one.
Categories: The Music Lounge