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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Shine On, You Crazy Diamond*

* I was consumed by all the happenings in our country lately and I am sure most of you are too. I just realised that it was the 3rd anniversary of Syd Barret's death on 7th July. This article was originally published by me on Navel Gazing as a tribute to him. It's time to take a break for a while from socio-politics and goes back to my root, ie, music. I would like to share it here with all of you.

Johnny died one night, died in his bed
Bottle of whiskey sleeping tablets by his head
Johnny's life passed him by like a warm summer's day
If you listen to the wind you can hear him play
Don't you know, don't you know

Dont ya know
Dont ya know that you are a shooting star

Shooting Star: Bad Company

Rock and roll’s folklore are filled with tales of fame, fortune, excesses of life and the attendant self indulgent, which ultimately would culminate in self-destruction to those unlucky few, the “shooting stars”. “Johnny” was, and indeed, is a common name. Nobody knows exactly who “Johnny” was in the above song. But Jimmy Hendrix was born Johnny Allan Hendrix, and he did die in his sleep after taking alcohol with sleeping pills called Vesperax (or was it Asperax? – I am not too sure) causing him to choke on his own vomit.

The period within which the song was written by Paul Rodgers also coincides with the death of Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Paul Kossoff (Paul Rodger’s guitarist in the group “Free”), Jim Morrison (The Doors) and later, John Bonham (Led Zeppelin). The song could thus be about rock and roll’s “shooting stars” generally. Those stars which would shine so bright, lit the night with such illuminating colours and lights, which would later dive into self destruction accompanied by a blazing trail of fire leaving behind a world awestruck by their genius and musical passion. Yes. Rock and roll’s folklore are filled with their tales.

Non however, would be sadder, more dramatic and more tragic than that of the “Crazy Diamond”.

“Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
You were caught on the cross fire of childhood and stardom,
blown on the steel breeze.
Come on you target for faraway laughter, come on you stranger,
you legend, you martyr, and shine!
You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter,
you piper, you prisoner, and shine!”

Shine On You Crazy Diamond(part 1): Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd was a little band with an identity crisis – having changed its name 5 times in one year – when Syd Barett joined them in 1965. Barett himself was born Roger Keith Barett and had adopted the name “Syd” after a local Cambridge drummer, Sid Barett. It was therefore only natural that the Cambridge University art student would change the name of the band he joined, “The Tea Set”, to “The Pink Floyd Sound”, by marrying the first name of two obscure bluesmen , Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. The band would later ditch the long version of their name for the now famous “Pink Floyd”. (And thank God for the name changes as I could not imagine an album as great as “The Wall” or “Dark Side Of The Moon” being released by a band called “The Tea Set”! – for that matter alone, I am indebted to Syd Barett!).

Nothing was amiss during his childhood as his pathologist (some say his father was a zoologist) father, Arthur Max Barett and his mother, Winifred, encouraged the young Roger to be active in music. He took up instruments such as a banjo, later played bass and ultimately settled for a guitar while delving into old blues and jazz. At the age of 14, he opted for the name “Syd” and from then on, rock and roll history book was to be written with a chapter named after Syd Barett with a cross reference to Pink Floyd.

Pink Floyd was a little band but by no means it was a struggling one. It was already playing numerous gigs or live performances with a cultish followings of its brand of psychedelic rock and the then underground progressive rock. Incorporated in its set would be psychedelic light shows and a long improvised version of songs such as “Interstellar Overdrive” which apparently would go on for half an hour in an LSD-fuelled jams. Pink Floyd’s place in the swinging London era was then well carved. The only thing that was wanting was an album.

The arrival of Syd Barett as lead guitarist, partnering his old pal, Roger Waters, the bassist, together with Nick Mason on drums and keyboardist Rick Wright ensured that a place in rock and roll super stardom would be reserved for Pink Floyd. Coinciding with his arrival, Pink Floyd would a little later engage a reliable management team consisting of Andrew King and Peter Jenner, who in turn befriended Joe Boyd, an American who was building a name in the British music scene for himself. Boyd produced a recording for Pink Floyd in January 1967 during which session Syd Barett’s “Arnold Layne” was recorded as a demo single. This single was later released and peaked at number 20 on the chart. Consider the lyrical simplicity and spontaneity of Barett’s lyric:

“Arnold Layne had a strange hobby
Collecting clothes
Moonshine washing line
They suit him fine
On the wall hung a tall mirror
Distorted view, see through baby blue
He dug it
Oh, Arnold Layne
It's not the same, takes two to know
Two to know, two to know, two to know
Why can't you see?
Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne
Now he's caught - a nasty sort of person.
They gave him time
Doors bang - chain gang - he hates it
Oh, Arnold Layne
It's not the same, takes two to know
two to know, two to know, two to know,
Why can't you see?
Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne
Don't do it again”

Arnold Layne: Syd Barett/Pink Floyd

Apparently, Arnold Layne was about a guy who used to steal underwear from Waters’ mom’s clotheslines. BBC would, upon its release, ban the song for its cross-dressing and transvestism themes. Be that as it may, Barett’s psychedelic work caught the attention of the fickle British music fans who was then accustomed to The Beattles, The Yardbirds et al. Pink Floyd’s music was driven by Barett’s improvised and free style guitar techniques coupled with a tight, and yet to a certain extent, indulgent, rhythm section anchored by Mason’s drumming and Water’s mastery of the bass. Rick Wright, on the other hand, would give an extra dimension to the band’s work on the keyboard.

Barett was an instant hit. He was technically gifted and added to that, he was an experimentalist. He loved exploring the sonic capabilities and possibilities of his guitar. One of his trademark was of course his mirror covered Telecaster Esquire, wired to a distortion and echo box, played by Barett by sliding his Zippo lighter on the fret board creating a rather mysterious and chilling out-of-this-world sound. He was, not unlike Jimmy Hendrix, a showman, ever ready to take centre stage in term of stage performances or creative inputs that one wonders what would have happened between him and the mega-egoistical Roger Waters had he not left, or rather been dumped from Pink Floyd. History would later show that Waters single-handedly destroy the balance of the band by demanding control of creative inputs and directions culminating in an acrimonious break-up.

Barett followed up the success of Arnold Layne with another single, “See Emily Play” which peaked at number 6 on the chart. Barret initially claimed that Emily was a girl he saw when he was hallucinating after a drug binge but he later admitted that he made up that story as a publicity stunt. Be that as it may, he might as well have written the song for himself, considering the theme of the song:

“Emily tries but misunderstands, ah ooh
She often inclined to borrow somebody's dreams till tomorrow
There is no other day
Let's try it another way
You'll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play
Soon after dark Emily cries, ah ooh
Gazing through trees in sorrow hardly a sound till tomorrow
There is no other day
Let's try it another way
You'll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play
Put on a gown that touches the ground, ah ooh
Float on a river forever and ever, Emily
There is no other day
Let's try it another way
You'll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play”

See Emily Play : Syd Barett

It was reflective, to a certain extent. God knows whether Barett was feeling the pressure of rock stardom at the time the song was written. But the theme of a girl, who tried so hard to understand the world while being isolated, depressed and sad was, in retrospect, resonant of a lonely and hard life, despite fame and fortune. Put on a gown that touches the ground/float on a river forever and ever…how hopeless can one be?

The single Apple and Oranges followed soon after, also with a degree of success. Pink Floyd was by then a force to be reckoned with. It was perhaps inevitable that a full debut album was to be released, with Barett as a creative pillar behind it. The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was recorded between January-July 1967 at Abbey Road with Barett penning 9 of the songs and co-writing another 2 out of the 11 songs in it. It was an instant hit with the album hitting number 6 on the UK chart although a much limited success was achieved in the US. Nevertheless, Pink Floyd was by now developing a large following and was deeply entrenched in the psychedelic and progressive rock world. And the pressure was just building up for Barett.

In fact Barett was already displaying a certain degree of, what was then thought as, eccentricity while The Piper was being recorded. Barett was then known to be heavily on dope, acid , Mandax (or Mandies, as known to junkies those days, a hypnotic tranquillisers) and of course psychedelic drugs such as LSDs coupled with alcohol. There were in fact allegations that he was being “fed” with drugs although David Gilmour, who would later replace him in Pink Floyd, said that Barett would not need any encouraging if drugs were available to him. Sue Kingsford, Barett’s one time one-night stand once said, “We were all feeding it (drugs) to each other. It was a crazy time”.

David Gilmour would later recount how he had met Barett while “Emily” was being recorded. Syd didn't seem to recognise me and he just stared back,' he says. 'He was a different person from the one I'd last seen in October.' Was he on drugs, though? 'I'd done plenty of acid and dope - often with Syd - and that was different from how he had become.'

Whatever it was that Barett was taking, or suffering, the effects were soon beginning to manifest itself on and off stage. Barett would increasingly hate to perform “Emily” and “Arnold” as he did not want to be stuck with the standard 3 minute something “pop” song. During live performances, he would, in a middle of a set or song, suddenly detune his guitar until the strings were flapping and he then hit a note and held that note all night with the echo-machine at full steam! He would, some other time, just stand on stage with his hands by his side, the guitar hanging from his neck, staring blankly at nothing while his band mates played on. Perhaps he was exploring his artistic boundaries. The crowd loved his antics. Or perhaps he was sick. Plain sick.

After the release of “The Piper” in August 1967, Pink Floyd was on a mini US tour in November. And things could not get any worse. The band was not really prepared for the US tour in the sense that it was expecting things to be the same with England. They found out that they had to play at big venues supporting bands such as Holding Company (led by non other than Janis Joplin). They found out that Americans were not really into feedbacks or English psychedelia. Barett would still hit just one note per night or just standing without doing anything at all. When he played, it would be a different tune altogether.

Back in the studio, Barett would turn up one day with a nice new composition titled “Have You Got It, Yet?” for the band to practise. According to Waters, the band thought the composition was quite nice and they set to practise it only for Barett to change the arrangement in the middle of the practice. While practising the newly altered version, Barett would again arbitrarily change the arrangement again and he would the same repeatedly while asking the band “have you got it, yet?” It was only then the band realised that Barett was being cute and stopped practising the song!

It was in the US that the famous Brylcream incident happened. Apparently, Barett had had his hair permed at Vidal Sassoon. And badly too. He hated it. He thought that the “punk” style he had been experimenting with suited him better. And so, he poured a whole tin of Brylcream onto his head in the dressing room. He then crushed a handful of Mandrax and put it onto his hair. David Gilmour however suggested that Barett would not have wasted any “Mandies” but apparently the Mandax addition was confirmed by a lighting man. He then rushed onto the stage and under the heat of all the lightings, the Brylcream melted and ran down his face, making him look like a “gutted candle”! Looking at him as if he was decomposing on stage, with the crowd screaming, apparently enjoying his antics, some of the band and crew apparently abandoned the place for drinks. Later, arriving from San Francisco at Las Vegas, Barett would forget to bring his guitars, fall into a swimming pool and left his wet clothes behind.

Coming back to England, the band was supposed to play with the likes of Hendrix for 3 weeks. Barett could not perform and he had to be stopped from running away on a train. The band struggled along with a borrowed guitarist from another band. It was at this time that Messrs Waters, Mason and Wright hatched a plan. They were to ask Gilmour, a long time pal of Waters and Barett, all form Cambridge, to stand in for Barett. Gilmour was known to be an excellent guitarist and being broke and was driving a van for a living, he accepted a try out. On stage, Gilmour would play and Barett would just walked around or pretended to play. There was no input whatsoever from Barett. On the way to their gig one night, they decided not to pick Barett up. And Gilmour had, on that night, effectively replaced Barett. Barett’s days, as a co-founder of Pink Floyd, and the creative pillars behind the band, were effectively, though not officially, ended that night.

Gilmour thereafter replaced Barett as lead guitarist of Pink Floyd. Barett was obviously hurt by this turn of event. He would turn out at the band’s gigs and sat in front while staring at Gilmour. The band later recorded a second album titled A Saucerful of Secrets in 1968 which included Barett’s Jugband Blues. During the recording, Barett would sometime wait outside the studio to be invited to play. He however was resigned to the fact that he was no longer wanted. In Jugband Blues, he wrote, "It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here/And I'm most obliged to you for making it clear/that I'm not here", as the song opens.

In March 1968, it was officially announced that Barett was no longer a member of Pink Floyd.

By autumn of 1968, homeless and probably broke too, Barett would sometime go back to his mother’s house in Cambridge. When in London, he would crash at his friends’ flat, sometimes with disastrous result. After leaving, or was left out of Pink Floyd, Barett recorded 2 solo albums, “The Madcap Laughs” and “Barett”. He did perform live once with David Gilomour, among others, accompanying him on the bass. It was in 1970 at Olympia Exhibition Hall where they played 4 songs. Due to poor mixing, the vocals were inaudible and at the end of the 4th song, Barett politely put down his guitar and walked off stage.

He later formed a band called “Stars” but it was short-lived. He went back to Win’s house in Cambridge in 1981 and his mother managed to persuade some of her wealthy friends to take Barett as a gardener. He did become a gardener but during a thunderstorm, he threw down his tools and quit. He came back to London briefly before going back (walking all the way to Cambridge!) to Win’s house in 1982 where he led a reclusive life and was almost not seen again, ever again, by the public. His sister, Rosemary, became his only contact with the outside world. That year too, he reverted to his original name “Roger” and would refuse to “talk about Syd”.

The heart wrenching drama of Syd Barett however unfolded in 1975, when Pink Floyd was recording the album “Wish You Were Here” which contains among others, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (part 1 and 2). Shine On you Crazy Diamond was a tribute to Syd Barett by the band, which had never managed to banish its memory of Barett’s contributions and influences to the band. While recording the song, a plump bald man walked into the studio and sat down. Nobody knew who he was. He had shaven all his hair off, including his eyebrows and he would jump up and down of the sofa while brushing his teeth all the time. When the band members found that the guy was actually Barett, Waters shed some tears. It was as if by design, that Barett would appear in that state while the band was recording “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, a tribute to him. Years later, in 1986, when Pink Floyd released a movie version of the album “The Wall”, there would be a scene where Pink, the lead character in that movie (played by Bob Geldof) was shown completely shaven, including his eyebrows. That scene was inspired by Syd Barett’s visit to the studio in 1975.

Barett continued to receive some royalties for his works with Pink Floyd which Dave Gilmour would ensure get to him. He later was diagnosed with ulcers and type 2 diabetes. He was in and out of hospitals for his ulcers. When Win died in 1991, he destroyed and burnt all his diaries and art books. He painted, collected coins and cooked. He died of pancreatic cancer and complications of diabetes on July 7th 2006 leaving an estate of 1.2 million pound will-ed to his 2 brothers and 2 sisters.

As it turned out, he suffered from schizophrenia. All the drugs and alcohol had just exacerbated his conditions leading to his apparent psychotic behaviour on and off the stage.

Roger Keith “Syd” Barett. The Crazy Diamond. Shine on. For your days passed you by like a warm summer’s day. And if we listen to the wind, we would still hear you play.

May God bless your soul. And may you rest in peace.


Note: The 1st photo is of a young Barett. Wonder whether the black Telecaster is the famous guitar which would later be covered with mirrors. The 2nd picture is the house in which Barett lived till his death in 2006. It was taken after his death. It was later sold for 120000 pound to a French couple who apparently did not have a clue of who Barett was and the significance of the house.


Acknowledgements:
The Guardian
Wikipedia
The Syd Barett Appreciation Society
allmusic
and all the footnotes in the various articles published in the above sites.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

bro

bila lu nak jawap soalan mahathir ?

http://chedet.co.cc/chedetblog/2009/09/sound-bites-7.html

dia nak lawyer macam ko jawap bro

jibam

p-loon said...

A moving and erudite tribute, Art. Beautifully written.

aceofspade said...

a great in sight of the history of pink floyd...and i tot i was a die hard fan!!!!

Fi-sha said...

Dear Art

Thanks for this reprieve from "Insanity in Boleh Land" and for sharing this warm, fuzzy feeling.

Anonymous said...

Real nice. Love the tuning in to 'BBC radio' intro on Wish You Were Here. According to Gilmore, it was to create the 'old' atmosphere of getting sucked into the radio.
And now we are still being asked to trade our heroes for ghosts...
But you have conjured my smile from a veil.
Thanks for another brick=strong education.
Love it.
Salam
Nur

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Anonymous said...

Dear Art,

My suggestion is that you delete posting by En. Kahar (this malay chap thinks he is a prophet for the malays.

Walski69 said...

Wow... not only are you ARTiculate, but a Pink Floyd fan too...

And a fantabulous tribube, too... Syd would've been pleased.

p.s. as for the blurb by Kahar, the only thing I would accuse him of is being totally out of topic ;-)

Mat Cendana said...

Apparently there are three categories of Pink Floyd fans; separated by the periods: Syd Barret, Roger Waters and post-Waters. I'm with the Waters Period, and I'd say the albums from Dark Side of the Moon to The Final Cut were the best years of PF.

For some reason, I'm not quite into the albums before "Dark Side" - oh, I'm okay with most of the songs (like "Set the Controls"), but to my ears (and mind) at least, there isn't the same depth as the Waters Period.

And Waters - for all his ego, the man is a genius who was on another plateau. Take Time: the music, lyrics and delivery... no one could have done that except Waters. Or, Wish You Were Here and Hey You - they are HIS song... no one else could deliver them as well as Waters.

Anyway, the absence of Waters after "Final Cut" is sad and disappointing. I'd often wonder what it would have been like had he stayed around; right until Richard Wright's death. Had hoped that somehow he'd be back with PF. Well, with Wright gone, even if he does, it won't be the same again.

art harun said...

Dear Mat Cendana,

Well, I must say you know your music and Pink Floyd well. Good for you. Waters, despite his genius, does not really appeal that much to me. Gilmore was my idol. As a 15 year with blisters on my fingers trying to play my Kapok guitar, Gilmore was an inspiration, an idol of sorts.
He may not have the technical gifts and the gizmos of Satriani. Nor does he have the speed of Malmsteen. But what he doesn't have he more than makes up with his tuneful and bluesy riffs. The riffs in Comfortably Numb is just out of this world. And ditto Wish You Were Here.

Walski, one of the fondest memory I have when I was a teenager was to wait for Patrick Teoh to play Pink Floyd on his show, Fantastic Facts and Fancies. Life was so simple back then. And the simple pleasures in life abound.

Mat Cendana said...

I've been thinking about your reply since this morning -- about this Barrett-Waters-Gilmour thing. It's not the first time I've had someone else thinking more highly of Gilmour than of Waters (rather frequent at the Usenet PF group). And I'm amazed by this, for to me "he's Pink. If there's no Waters, there's no Pink Floyd... and it doesn't matter what the court says (Waters had tried to prevent the rest from continuing as PF).

But there's something which you mentioned - I think I've found the answer as to the `discrepancy'. "Playing the guitar" - whether one plays it or not is a crucial factor in preferring one or the other

BTW I remember the Kapok guitar - RM50. Borrowed one; much to the aghast of my grandmother - something about "jari jadi kematu". And "the impression/low opinion people have on a person with a guitar". Even if Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page were to come to my kampung, my grandmother wouldn't have been impressed... even with his millions. But she was right about the "jari kematu" though - what a `killer guitar'!

Anyway, in my case I don't play the guitar. Didn't have the patience; and unlike that Guitar George in Dire Straits' Sultans of Swing: "Mat Cendana knows two chords". Yeah, A-Minor and E, and nothing else.

That might mean I have less appreciation for the technical difficulties in which guitarists (esp Gilmour) overcame. But not knowing the guitar means people in my category place (and maybe have too) a keener sense of the vocals, and the lyrics. That's my thinking anyway.

BTW, when it comes to Time, I've never heard anyone else sing it. I'd sure like to hear - if only to scorn haha. To my ears, no human can deliver Time "like Waters".

art harun said...

Mat Cendana,

Any discussions about PF between two or more fans would invariably stray towards the Gilmore vs Waters debate.

Waters is without doubt some sort of a genius. But he carries with him so much baggage that could fill up to the brim a medium sized rubbish dump! :) Just listen to Another Brick in the Wall part 1 and you will know what I mean.

While Waters dreamed out all the plans and master plans for the group's excursions, Gilmore filled up all the gaps and provided the substance which bonded and turned Waters' plans into a cohesive end products.

That is post PF, Gilmore could continue to churn out great albums but waters fell into a void after missing Gilmore's inputs.

As a guitarist with a 36 bucks Kapok, Gilmore was a hero. Look at his fingers Mat, they don't seem to move that much and it's always between 4 frets. Whatever notes which are unnecessary will not be hit. I mean you give Comfortably Numb to Satriani and he would probably fill in another 80 notes in between Gilmore's riffs. Malmsteen would probably have another 150 notes. :)

But those are gimmicks and they make a song sounds awesome. Gilmore's riffs on the other hand are just there because they are supposed to be there. (Blackmore's Soldier of Fortune is also a case in point). And that makes a song great as opposed to being awesome.

Have a good weekend Bro.

Rocky's Bru said...

I think Syd Barrett's exit from Pink Floyd was a good thing.

If he hadn't left, Pink Floyd wouldn't have moved out of those early 60s-meandering-directionless-experimental-rock sound that Barrett was responsible for. Pink Floyd wouldn't have developed those tight, conceptual, meaningful, epic albums (Dark Side of The Moon, The Wall) if Barrett was still there trying to do an experimental play-around like Jimi Hendrix.

I never liked the Barrett-era albums for this reason. They were typical of the sound of that period with a little random spaced-out effect to set them apart, but other than that, pretty mundane and has poor melody.

Contrast that to Pink Floyd's better melody content after Barrett's departure.

I don't think Barrett was an exceptional musician despite his toying around with experimental studio sounds. Syd Barrett's so-called 'legendaryness' was simply a creation of people's fascination with LSD-induced mental paranoia and random songwritingness. That's about it.

What you say, Art?

art harun said...

Rocky,

I have to somewhat agree with you on your take relating to Barrett's contribution to PF. But one must not underestimate the fact that Barrett was one of the founder members of the group. He in fact named the group.

On his ability as a guitarist, I would agree that he was more of a Hendrix wannabe than anything else. Thus his gimmickry. In fact, ironically, it was Gilmore who taught him how to play guitar!

But I wouldn't fault Barrett for PF's style of music in the 60's. That was THE style then. Psychedelia was the in thing back then and PF was among the front runners of English psychedelia scene.

Waters on the other hand was more operatic. And I suppose Gilmore complimented Waters in the tune department.

I agree with you that had Barrett not been dumped, PF might still be caught in their psychedelic warp. And I just could not imagine the explosion which would be caused by the head-on collisions between Barrett and Waters. Oh my!

I think PF never managed to shake off its guilt over the Barrett affair and how they dumped him. Hence Wish You Were Here. I think deep down inside, the members felt they owed Barrett something.

Hence the Barrett almost romantic legend.

Tok Pawi said...

Hi Art, Mat Cendana directed me to your blog. So glad we have something in common - Pink Floyd. And that you are all knowlegeable of PF.

Which one's Pink? Art says it's Dave, MC says it's Roger. Some say it's Syd while others say it's Rick.

1st let me redefine PF history timeline, to correct MC's. 1) Syd's era (he was undisputed leader of the band then), 2) Pink Floyd's at their prime (this is what MC forgets), 3) Waters era and finally 4) sans Waters era (also sans Mason).

I totally agree with Art that during Syd's era, it was THE style then. In fact PF were among the pioneers of Prog Rock genre. They couldn't find fame becoz that type of music was not appealling and acceptable to general public (ahead of its time).

Roger Waters put philosophy and art to the music of Pink Floyd, he wrote the better songs (melodies) and most of the lyrics. But Gilmour and Wright lent the character to PF sound - Dave's guitar works - and Rick's keyboards and electronic effects. And they are perfectly complemented by the rythm department, i.e. Nick Mason and Waters.

To me, the four of them are Pink Floyd - Waters, Gilmour, Wright and Mason. And they work best when they collaborated (in albums Atom Heart Mother, Meddle, Animals, Wish You Were Here and The Dark Side of the Moon).

The problem came when Gilmour and Waters were allowed to do what they are best at - Waters at writing and Gimour at playing guitars. From which we have the Wall which was almost entirely Waters' creative work. Other members of the band became less important. So when they produced The Final Cut, it was Pink Floyd no more. As far as I'm concerned, the last Pink Floyd's album was the Wall. The rest are all solos.

Their solos are as good as Pink Floyd, there's little doubt about it. But not quite really.

Americk said...

Dear Azahar,

Its nice to know there are so many Pink Floyd fans out there after all these years. Yes, I can remember listening to their music well into the night with my head phones on trying to figure it out. So unique and original and that is what I liked about the band.I have their CD's permanently slotted into my car player and on those long journeys I play their music at full blast. This is especially exciting when driving along lonely stretches at night. You should try it.
But thats not the reason for this comment. I was just about to get carried away.
I would like your interpretation of the lyrics of "Comfortably Numb". So many people have so many different views as to what this song is about. As you seem to be the Pink Floyd guru, I would like your take on this. Please, if you don't mind? I need to have closure.
Thanks.
Americk

Mat Cendana said...

Well, since Comfortably Numb here is specifically directed to Art, I'll just mention about my own "lonely stretches at night".

Gua Musang-Kuala Krai highway; especially the stretch going on to Chiku-whatever-number: now these are real forests on the left and right hand sides; and I've driven alone no less than twice at night.

Both times were after attending some course in KL in the early 90's, and the last day was Saturday. Setting off after lunch and zohor - plus the fact that I get scared when the meter of my third-hand (but in excellent condition) Toyota Corolla 1.3 GL hits 100kmh - means I'd only reach the Gua Musang area towards dusk.

But on those journeys, I can't remember any significance for Comfortably Numb. With me, it's Hey You (which I'll repeat and repeat and repeat); and the Animals album.

But it was only fantasy The wall was too high as you can see No matter how he tried he could not break free And the worms dig into his brains...

art harun said...

Hey Americk, how are you mate?
I am no guru lah. But I must say Comfortable Numb never failed to blow me away. The outro solo must be one of the best solo ever in any rock song. Check out Gilmour’s riff on the song in the “Pulse” DVD. As for the music while driving, I have to agree with you on that one.

As a school kid, I always presume that CN is about getting stoned. Never delved into that lyric too much actually. But after watching the video of The Wall, I came to realise that the lyric deals with Pink, the lead character in The Wall.

What strikes me the most about CN is the obvious paradox between Hey You and Is There Anybody Out There where Pink was crying for help and was asking whether there was anybody “out” there. In fact, preceding CN on the album, is the phrase “is there anybody out there?” appearing just before CN starts. Then, in CN, we could hear the guy (doctor) knocking on the door of the room in which Pink was while asking “is anybody in there?”. That was like telling Pink, hey, we are here but are you there?

Basically I think, if we view CN as a part of a whole operatic theme in The Wall and we watch the video, it is really about the Doctor discovering Pink slumped in his chair alone, almost unconscious. The concert was near and Pink’s manager was asking the Doctor to wake him up. The Doctor then injected some drugs into Pink and Pink went about drifting in and out of consciousness like “smoke in the horizon”. Memories of his tortured childhood came by.

I just love the obvious correlation between the distant ship, smoke in the horizon and the waves where all have something to do with the sea. I don’t know whether Waters was trying to conjure the images of his long dead father who always appear in and out of his memory. Sublime, I must say.

Mat Cendana,
What a song to accompany you on a long lonely and potentially frightening night journey. I would die of fright!

Selamat Hari Raya Maaf Dzahir Batin everyone.

ps: Americk, we should catch up together with Sox et al.

Americk said...

Hi Art and Mat Cendana, sorry for the delay in my response to your comments. Pete is having trouble with the Malaysia Today site....apparently been hacked so trying to sort out new servers etc.

Can't for the life of me imagine why anyone would want to do that.

As far as 'Comfortably Numb' is concerned, when I first heard those lyrics I thought the song was a tribute to Prof. Steven Hawking. If you read those lyrics again you may understand why I could have come to this conclusion, erroneosly or otherwise. They could just as fittingly apply to the predicament Pink was in as to that Steve Hawking was and still is, in.

Thats my 2 sen worth (less).

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