Daisy Chains & Laughs
How Pink Floyd might have developed had they and Syd Barrett stayed together is anyone’s guess. But then again, Syd never really left: his shadow and influence stayed with them and is all across their commercial high point, ‘The Dark Side of The Moon’. It probably wouldn’t have existed if he’d still been in the band, certainly not if he had still been the main creative force. The expansive grandeur of the music certainly had it’s roots in early epics like ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ and ‘Astronomy Domine’, and at a stretch you might suggest that ‘The Great Gig in The Sky’ was the natural evolution of the latter. But the whimsical, child-like sense of fun was largely missing, having itself taken a trip to the dark side. What did remain, however, was the spirit of adventure, the eagerness to stretch musical boundaries, and that spirit is what ultimately created that one extraordinary record.
I know Dark Side so well that I could replay it in my mind from start to finish and probably still get the timings right, to the point where just a mention of it will trigger the familiar thump of a heartbeat in my head, followed by the manic giggling – an echo of that Barrett-era whimsy. Of course, this is all really just an excuse to play some of Syd’s music. I could try analysing it in depth but I think that’s pointless. It’s always seemed to me that to do that would take away the magic. It’s not complicated, it’s an escape. In a way it’s the antithesis of what Pink Floyd eventually became.
He may not have recorded much music in his short musical career, but I’m more than happy with what we do have without yearning for more. Over the years Syd Barrett has influenced countless artists, so it’s tempting to say that in some metaphysical sense he’s never really stopped creating. From Prog to Kosmische, Punk to Post-punk, Rave to Shoegaze, Ambient to Britpop, and on and on, right up to artists like Keith Seatman and Vanishing Twin, Syd’s inspiration has rarely dimmed. 50 years on from the release of the album whose theme he inspired; the Crazy Diamond keeps on shining.