The taking from Syd
The Anderson Council #1, Jul 1993, Christian D. Amsler
With a very limited body of work, he influenced. With a total lack of interest for the silly “business” of music, he influenced. With an unstable psyche and a growing inability to function in a normal day to day way, he influenced.
A very simple answer to a complex question. Syd Barrett was a genius, nothing less. I, at one time in my life listened to nothing but Syd, as I did at times with various bands. Bands like the Stones, Kiss, Elton John, and Alice Cooper. To the point of obsession I would go through these stages of listening to nothing but these artists. Mother was very patient with me. Of course there was plenty of other music and outside influences to mold and make me what I am today, a songwriter. There are hundred of thousands songwriters in the world today. As a songwriter, let me tell you it is not that complicated, you are a good songwriter or a bad songwriter.
Money and fame have nothing to do with it. What there are not hundreds of thousands of in the world today are geniuses. And to be an artist and a genius is very rare. Oh, sure there are mùany artists who believe themselves to be geniuses and oh so gifted, but this usually is nothing more than pretentiousness and over inflated egotism.
Syd influenced many artists, from Robyn Hitchcock, who at one point of his career believed he must be “the second Syd”, to David Bowie who was blown away at a club in early 1967 where on the stage this pale pancake faced madman sang sci-fi psychedelia and waved his arms in the air, as if he indeed were were an air traffic controller guiding in the wildist of space crafts he adored writing about so much. I have been greatly influenced by Syd Barrett myself and although I am not on the verge of obsession anymore, I will always believe That it was this madcap who took the musician I was and turned him into a songwriter.
For Syd, being a genius must have been terribly difficult to handle. He was, or seemed to be, very unhappy in our world. He retreated to another plane through songwriting, painting, and ,yes, his acid. Wether or not it was the LSD, fame or his father’s death that finally did him in is pointless to muddle over. It was probably a combination of these and other things we couldn’t even fathom. What didn’t seem very difficult for Syd was creating. Wether it was a song, a painting, or an outfit for stage or street, he was a natural. His imaginations seemed endless and the burning out of his imagination is indeed one of the great tragedies or Rock and Roll. Jim Morrison; Brian Wilson; Brian Jones; Janis and Jimi; the list goes on and on. The difference between Syd and these other casualties is that Syd’s contribution was so small yet his influence is still fellt today. Along with the continuing members of the Pink Floyd, Bowie and Hitchcock, many others have nipped from the madcap’s cup. Especially the bands from today’s underground movement, a movement which Pink Floyd helped pioneer in early 1966. Not to mention the decadent spiritualist, Juilan Cope; Michael Stipe, the ever pretentious Robert Smith of the Cure (Hey, that’s Syd’s hair!) and what about old Alice Cooper who hung with the Floyd in Los Angeles while they were in the middle of their first tour of the USA, Syd’s first and only trip to America.
“Barrett was a huge influence on me, absolutely. I thought Syd could do no wrong. I thought he was a massive talent. He was the first I has ever seen in the middle ’60 who could decorate a stage. He has this strange mystical look to him, with painted black fingernails and his eyes fully made up. He was like some figure out of an indonesian play or something, and he wasn’t altogether of this world.” – David Bowie, 1990
The fashion, yeah, that hair is everywhere, thos eyes with the vacant stare. Syd and all who have been introdiced to his surreal world. He’s in me, and at times the presence can be an uneasy one. For an artist or anyone who has a passion to create, dicontent fuels imagination. There is so much more I could ramble about but I have the sudden urge to write a song … Gotta go. Oh, and Syd, thank you.