Wednesday, July 12, 2006

SHINE ON YOU CRAZY DIAMOND

The name of this blog site, Wish You Were Here, was inspired by one of my favorite songs from the album with the same title by Pink Floyd. It was written (and later recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London) as a tribute to Syd Barrett.

He was named Roger Keith Barrett when born in Cambridge, England, but at the age of fifteen changed it to Syd after a local drummer Sid Barrett. In 1965, along with Roger Waters (bass guitar), Nick Mason (drums) and Richard Wright (keyboards) Barrett co-founded a band creating a jazz- and blues-infused psychedelic music, which struck a chord with the ageing baby boomers craving for a more cerebral soundtrack for their lives.


It was Barrett who named the group Pink Floyd — in honor of blues artists Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. In 1967, the band released its first LP, the psychedelic masterpiece The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Ten out of the eleven songs were written by Barrett.

The next year, after touring with the legendary Jimi Hendrix, Barrett began to suffer from mental instability, exacerbated by his heavy intake of the psychedelic drug, LSD. Guitarist David Gilmour was brought in to provide continuity; both Barrette and Gilmour shared center stage for a few months. However, Barrett’s mental condition worsened; making him increasingly unreliable and erratic (such as frequently going on stage to play no more than two notes in a whole set). He was soon forced to leave the band.


Although his stint with Pink Floyd was brief, Barrett’s delicate and wistful songs influenced many musicians, including David Bowie — who covered one of Barrett’s original compositions, See Emily Play. In a statement on his Web site, Bowie wrote, “His impact on my thinking was enormous. A major regret is that I never got to know him. A diamond indeed.”

After leaving the band, he reverted to his old name Roger Keith Barrett and moved back to Cambridge at his mother’s house. He also released a couple of solo albums, but eventually called it quits altogether. Before Pink Floyd, he attended art school and would subsequently spend the rest of his days engaged in painting or tending his garden.


Rolling Stone magazine in describing his new-found lifestyle and artworks wrote, “Sometimes crazy jungles of thick blobs. Sometimes simple linear pieces. His favourite is a white semi-circle on a white canvas. In a cellar where he spends much of his time, he sits surrounded by paintings and records, his amps and guitars. He feels safe there, under the ground. Like a character out of one of his own songs.”

Through the ensuing years since his departure, out of courtesy and respect, his former bandmates saw to it that he duly received his royalties from his early work with the band. On the other hand, Pink Floyd continued to dwell on the subject of mental illness as reflected by their Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall albums. On a recent statement issued upon Barrett’s death, they said, “Syd was the guiding light of the early band lineup and leaves a legacy which continues to inspire”

Syd Barrett died on July 7, 2006 due to complications related to diabetes. He was sixty years old.


Photo credit: otowlcek.bloguje.cz

posted by Señor Enrique at 8:35 AM


27 Comments:

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

Hello Nice blog. Good writing. :)

July 12, 2006 9:22 AM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

Sorry for the 'retrospective' paalam but I've added a link of your blog to mine.

July 12, 2006 9:33 AM  

Blogger j said...

Senor, I dont know the song...I'm not too familiar with David Bowie so I'll just check his site ;)

July 12, 2006 10:09 AM  

Anonymous Mike E said...

Thanks for the good words about one of the Greats -- I'm still at a loss for something to say...

Strange loss. Gloomy day.

July 12, 2006 10:29 AM  

Blogger Rey said...

"So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell/ blue skies from pain/ Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?/ A smile from a veil?/ Do you think you can tell?"

-- those are my favourite lyrics to one of the most moving songs i've ever been infantuated with growing up. it has a personal relevance to my life and it still moves moe to tears when i listen to it alone in a dark room. And yes, it is a tribute to the psychedelic diamond.

I've known a Pink Floyd that is post- Barrett. Only when I heard that "Wish you were here" was a tribute to him did I seek out his music. It was when I bought "Piper".

Kurt Cubain mentioned Barrett once as one of his influences. And loved "See emily play" and "Lucifer Sam". And a big influence in the way he write his lyrics.

Nice tribute, man.

July 12, 2006 10:54 AM  

Anonymous niceheart said...

I've heard about his death on the news just tonight. I don't listen to Pink Floyd except for that time when my oldest son Reggie asked me to buy him The Dark Side of The Moon CD and also a videotape of Pink Floyd. I just wanted to check out what kind of music he was listening to. This was when he was just starting to listen to jazz.

July 12, 2006 11:28 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Many thanks, Senorito. I've just visited your blog (very interesting) and will visit again.

Keep up with jamming with your guitar, ok? :)

July 12, 2006 1:56 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

You might be too young for these guys, Jairam :)

But if you watch The Apprentice, the music they use in the show, Money, was from Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album.

David Bowie is one of rock's most innovative and prolific artists. He is married to his second wife, Iman, who was once one of the fashion industry's super models.

July 12, 2006 2:03 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

You're welcome Mike. We lost another one of rock's great icons.

Incidentally, I was planning on posting an entry about Pink Floyd this week (as inspired by a recent cover feature by Guitar magazine). I wasn't expecting that it would become an entry about Barette's unexpected demise instead.

July 12, 2006 2:08 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Actually, Rey, it was my artist friends in NYC who turned me on to Pink Floyd. And I've come to realize that artists are more likely to be deeply moved by the words and music of Pink Floyd.

BTW, during that time, there were many other artists producing works that were just as introspective -- Peter Gabriel, Bowie, Tangerine Dream, King Crimson, and to name a few. But none were as incredibly grand and ethereal as Pink Floyd. Indeed, it was Barrette who conceptualized the band's direction from the outset.

July 12, 2006 2:31 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Dark Side of the Moon, to this day, Niceheart, sells about 30,000 copies a month. It has been on Billboard's Top 200 since it moved out of its top ten position more than twenty years ago.

Actually, when I traded my turntable for a CD player, the very first CD I purchased was Dark Side of the Moon.

There was once an active effort to convince NASA to pipe this entire album out into space as a musical way to introduce us earthlings to other intelligence out there :)

But more seriously, our son, Reggie, for having included this as part of his collection/influence mainly proves that he is, indeed, becoming a well-rounded artist. Good for him!

July 12, 2006 2:41 PM  

Blogger Rey said...

I've purchased 'Dark side of the Moon' on its BASF cassette cartridge pa. Around P75 yata yun noon. I guess that's way back '86 (13 years after it was first released), when as a grade six student I was introduced to Pink Floyd by a friend (10 years older than me, the same guy that got me into 'THE WHO'). This was of course, already a David Gilmour voiced album. The all- instrumental pieces (i guess there were around 4 on that album) was just as astounding to hear. Especially the opener which was "Speak to me".

July 12, 2006 3:02 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I apologize for my misspell, Niceheart.

I meant: But more seriously, your son, Reggie....

That's the problem when you type with only two fingers, you tend to inadvertently omit certain letters :)

July 12, 2006 6:07 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

And I'm glad to notice, Rey, that certain big groups of that era are experiencing a resurgence in popularity -- such as Pink Floyd, The Who and Led Zeppelin.

And I'm sorry to admit that these three groups were among the bands I didn't get a chance to see live in concert despite having pulled some strings while working in the music industry. It was a tough ticket to grab, so to speak.

David Gilmour has profound influence on the group as well, but unfortunately it caused ill-feelings with Roger Waters; thus, giving birth to the all-time "Which one is Pink?" debate.

Nonetheless, you are right, that Darkside of the Moon album with its astounding music is by far one of the finest recordings ever produced during that period.

July 12, 2006 6:21 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I meant to add, Rey, that you were quite fortunate to have a friend introduce you to some great music!

I'm so appreciative of my friends who expanded my interest and appreciation of music.

July 12, 2006 6:28 PM  

Blogger NeiLDC said...

When Kurt Cobain died, his fans mourn, And even James Dean, River Phoenix. we all mourn and of course the legendary to the music Industry Elvis Presley yet still they become one of the legends...

Pink floyd... To be honest i heard their songs but in not on the generation of that years.. it was when i woke up one day and appreciate music of the 80 and 90s just considering their titles but not familiar who are they..

Behind the songs like Another brick on the wall, We dont need no education, House of the Rising Sun or Stairway to Heaven... and they were Pink Floyd.

To my Story... My father loves the music of Neil Diamong, Neil Young and Neil Sedaka... so that was me Neil...

"Life is like a music, its up to us to put all the lyrics"

July 12, 2006 7:13 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I love that quote at the end, Neil.

Another thing I've noticed when it comes to music that eventually become a part of our existence is that some come along with the people as they walk into our life.
Had it not been for my friends, I probably would not have discovered half of the music I've come to love.

Those three songs you mentioned were from the following groups:

Another Brick in the Wall - Pink Floyd

House of the Rising Sun - Eric Burdon and The Animals

Stairway to Heaven -- Led Zeppelin


As for those three Neils you mentioned I have at least one favorite song from their catalog such as:

Sweet Caroline - Diamond
Heart of Gold - Young
Breaking Up is Hard to Do (slow version)- Sedaka

Now I know how you got your name.

July 12, 2006 9:15 PM  

Blogger BW said...

Speaking of Neil Young, CSNY - Crosby, Still, Nash and Young - yes Neil Young is in it! - kicked off their tour of Canada and were in Air Canada Center in Toronto July 10. Dang, I wasn't able to watch it. I'm surprised CSNY is still top draw as evidenced by the venue. Oldies but goldies bands normally play in smaller venues like casinos but they're still a treat to watch man.

July 13, 2006 3:52 AM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

been reading some of your earlier posts. FYI, akoy sayo at ika'y akin was an original by iaxe. The full circle guys was just a remake.

July 13, 2006 5:25 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

That must've been some concert, BW! CSNY's live album released during the '70s dominated rock radio's playlist at that time. Great album.

If you want an interesting read about how Neil Young's music affected a young girl, check out Beth's Young Again.

http://kaleidosthoughts2.blogspot.com/2006/07/young-again.html

July 13, 2006 7:00 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes, Senorito, you are correct. I've heard it, too, and thought the original was the cover version :)

Thanks!

July 13, 2006 7:04 AM  

Anonymous Major Tom said...

I adore this song so much and in fact I've been recently playing a version of it where Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam sang it. To me, it is one of the most affecting song ever written.

The first time I heard "Dark Side Of The Moon", I was so awestruck and so enthralled and kept on wondering how a helicopter sound could be so delightful inside a song. Although, I've never went deeper into becoming a Pink Floyd band, I've always love their music.

It was such a sad thing what happened to Syd Barrett, like everything is going on huge for him and then he just went pffft. But I guess, steep genius always has that baggage of madness, and in his case, it was just unlucky that his madness was just a little bit over the hedge. This reminds me of Joy Division's Ian Curtis. He had formed that quintessential new wave band almost by his lonesome and when the time for them to hit big time, he died on an accident. But till now, he is deemed as a legendary songwriter and emulated by many new wave artist till now.

July 13, 2006 2:37 PM  

Blogger BW said...

I have CSN's ( minus Neil Young) DVD of their "unplugged" concert done a few years ago inside a theatre and didn't quite realize that these guy can play the instruments!

Oldies but goldies are great to watch in a smaller venue.. I watched Dan Fogelberg at a 6000 seater stadium at a Casino here in the Toronto area and boy when he played Leader of the Band and Make Love Stay on the acoustic it was perfect, probably better than the record. His voice range isn't as great when he was younger but the guitar playing hasn't dimished. I also watched America in the same venue and it's great when they're quite close to the audience. My only regret that we came a little late and missed the first song...darn.

July 13, 2006 9:35 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I've never heard of Eddie Vedder's cover of this song, Major Tom, but will check it out. Actually, I missed the whole Seattle grunge music phenomenon. At that time, got more involved in some other stuff like world and Philip Glass-type music. But Joy Division? Wow! I almost forgot about that group. That whole New Wave music scene was so much fun.

As for Syd Barrett's mental deterioration, I believe acid or LSD had a lot to do with dragging him to the deep end. I've heard two of my friends' friends who were stricken with the same disorder due to LSD abuse. There were also incidents of kids jumping off cliffs or hi-rise balconies while strung on it. Glad LSD never hit Manila, or did it, too?

July 14, 2006 6:15 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

And it wasn't until I came back to Manila when I heard of America's old tune, All My Life. And if you want to hear a sweet Pinoy acoustic version of it, BW, check out Cesar Montano's version (not the actor) -- I love it!

As for CSN&Y, Teach Your Children is a classic.

You're right, BW, a small venue not only create a more intimate setting but its acoustic is more likely much superior than those at a stadium. There were a lot of bands that I stopped seeing live when they started playing these huge arenas. And of course, there are artists or bands that are so popular that performing at these gigantic venues is the only practical option.

July 14, 2006 6:34 AM  

Blogger Tati Pérez said...

There´s a little mistake. The song is dedicated to Roger Waters father, who was actually a soldier and died in a cage, like the song says. Think about the other lines ("you walk-on part in the war", "your heroes for ghosts", "blue skyes from pain", and more).

The album is a tribute to Syd Barret, but the song nots.

September 04, 2006 2:30 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Oh, thank you for pointing out this error, Tati Perez! Truly appreciate it :)

September 04, 2006 6:02 AM  

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