Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Dominoes, by Syd Barrett

I haven't tired of this song after playing it dozens of times over the last month. I keep going back to it because it's exactly what I look for in poetry: a moment that transcends its own origins to become something instantly familiar and beautiful to the reader/listener.

I feel foolish because it took me so long to find Syd Barrett. It was only two years ago that a good friend of mine in Tampa handed me a copy of The Madcap Laughs and said: "You have to hear this, you're gonna love it."

The opening verses of this song from his second album are exquisite, the way he phrases each word, modulating them with such intuitive elegance, his voice soft as though he were in someone's living room.

"It's an idea someday
In my tears, my dreams..."

There's a line by Rilke that goes: "You must change your life." Syd Barrett's music has had that effect on me. I feel somehow we're privileged to have been around while he was alive.



Ernesto said...

I'm glad you wrote about Barrett. We owed him a post.


Steven said...

Syd was indeed a genius. And, I think the extent to which he was "insane" is quite questionable. His pre-Floyd and post-Floyd material are very much similar, which would suggest he didn't descend into insanity to write 'mad' lyrics.

Poor guy had his child, Pink Floyd, taken away from him by corporate sell-outs (it's true, even though I listen to a lot of post-Syd Floyd material too). Syd wanted them to ask him back so can really feel the sadness in his songs....and anger.

When they wouldn't, they ask him, he said to hell with everyone and left his past behind him. This meant leaving everyone and forgetting the past. If you ask me, Pink Floyd covered this up to some extent. Stealing two tracks - Bob Dylan Blues and Opel - a pre-Floyd song and post-Floyd song which quite nicely illustrate an odd familiarity suggesting he hadn't really changed all that much. And, as Syd would later write, "Send a cage in the post, make your name like a ghost." Pink Floyd sends royalty cheques, Syd Barrett is kept in a cage, and they make their names like a ghost as Syd has no avenue of action he can now take against them.

I won't go so far as saying he was all there. He was odd to begin with. The LSD trips probably didn't help either. But, he wasn't a total insane lunatic like most people would believe he was.