January 6, 2010
Editor’s note: This is one of the most popular posts, traffic-wise, ever published on HiLobrow. Click here to see a list of the Top 25 Most Popular posts (as of October 2012); and click here for an archive of all of HiLobrow’s most popular posts.
Seven years after his psychosis had snowballed to the point where SYD BARRETT (1946-2006) could no longer function constructively with Pink Floyd, his former bandmates were still feeling the absence of their effervescent frontman. While Roger Waters denies that Wish You Were Here was a specific tribute to Barrett, it is hard not to see the album, and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” in particular, as suffused, at least unconsciously, with the mixed emotions that emerged in response to Barrett’s psychological demise. Anecdotes about Barrett’s unhinged unpredictability, both in the studio and on stage, are legion: turning up and playing only when he felt like it; changing songs as he went along; detuning his guitar during concerts. However, only Barrett could have amused, confused, and offended listeners of the period in equal measure with an ethereally harmonized ditty about a kleptomaniac transvestite (“Arnold Layne”). And only Barrett could have fashioned an experimental musical extravaganza out of a childish rhyme about bikes with bells on and mice called Gerald (“Bike”). His enchantingly warped originality — as writer, player, and performer — mark him out as much more than a loopy pharmacasualty of the psychedelic era.
Each day, HILOBROW pays tribute to one of our favorite high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes on that person’s birthday.
READ MORE about the Blank Generation (1944-53).
READ MORE HiLo Hero shout-outs.
SUBSCRIBE to HiLo Hero updates via Facebook.
SHARE this post, by clicking on the toolbar below.