Syd Barrett and his Songs

Although my biggest pop music influence has always been The Beatles, one other major influence on my songwriting has been Syd Barrett (aka Roger Barrett, 1946-2006). This despite the fact that his body of work is small and of uneven quality. Although most of his songs are good and great, the recording of them on his solo albums did not match their potential, although those albums have their moments. There is something about his songs- perhaps a reckless disregard for the conventions of pop songwriting and openness to including all kinds of things you don’t normally find in songs- that captivates me and many others.

I first got into Pink Floyd through Dark Side of the Moon in the summer of 1989. After that I set about getting most of their albums. In the spring of 1990 I got a budget early Floyd compilation called Relics.

The songs on that album recorded after Barrett left were different from the Floyd I was familiar with but not so different. But as soon as I hear Barrett singing “Arnold Layne” it seemed like a different band altogether. I also loved “See Emily Play”, and “Bike”. I got The Piper at the Gates of Dawn  soon afterwards, and although it took me a while to get into it, once I did I was hooked.

Strangely enough I don’t play any of those songs. The songs I do cover all come from a later time, a time when he was struggling with mental disorder, struggling to function as a creative artist in an environment that suddenly took on a hostile hue in his mind and in which his horizons closed in on him without remorse. “Jugband Blues”, as I sing it, is a rather sarcastic but also embattled place to be, and “Opel” is beautifully desolate. “Terrapin”, on the other hand, is peaceful while “Apples and Oranges” is oddly joyous. Enjoy!



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