LONDON — If you tend to believe what you hear, rather than what is, Syd Barrett is either dead, behind bars, or a vegetable. He is in fact alive and as confusing as ever, in the town where he was born, Cambridge.

In 1966–67, Barrett was playing lead guitar with Pink Floyd. He'd named the band and was writing most of their music, including the only two hit singles they ever had. His eerie electronic guitar style and gnome-like stage presence made him an authentic cult figure for the nascent London underground, then just beginning to gather at the UFO club and the Roundhouse. The Floyd were a house band and the music went on into the wee hours.

Cambridge is an hour's train ride from London. Syd doesn't see many people these days. Visiting him is like intruding into a very private world. "I'm disappearing," he says, "avoiding most things." He seems very tense, ill at ease. Hollow-cheeked and pale, his eyes reflect a permanent state of shock. He has a ghostly beauty which one normally associates with poets of old. His hair is short now, uncombed, the wavy locks gone. The velvet pants and new green snake skin boots show some attachment to the way it used to be. "I'm treading the backward path," he smiles. "Mostly, I just waste my time." He walks a lot. "Eight miles a day," he says. "It's bound to show. But I don't know how."

"I'm sorry I can't speak very coherently," he says, "It's rather difficult to think of anybody being really interested in me. But you know, man, I am totally together. I even think I should be." Occasionally, Syd responds directly to a question. Mostly his answers are fragmented, a stream of consciousness (the words of James Joyce's poem "Golden Hair" are in one of his songs). "I'm full of dust and guitars," he says.

"The only work I've done the last two years is interviews. I'm very good at it." In fact, Syd has made three albums in that time, produced by the Floyd. The Madcap Laughs, his second, he says, was pretty good: "Like a painting as big as the cellar." Before the Floyd got off the ground, Barrett attended art school. He still paints. Sometimes crazy jungles of thick blobs. Sometimes simple linear pieces. His favourite is a white semi-circle on a white canvas.

In a cellar where he spends much of his time, he sits surrounded by paintings and records, his amps and guitars. He feels safe there, under the ground. Like a character out of one of his own songs. Syd says his favourite musician is Hendrix. "I toured with him you know, Lindsay (an old girlfriend) and I used to sit on the back of the bus, with him up front; he would film us. But we never spoke really. It was like this. Very polite. He was better than people really knew. But very self-conscious about his consciousness. He'd lock himself in the dressing room with a TV and wouldn't let anyone in."

 

Syd himself has been known to sit behind locked doors, refusing to see anyone for days at a time. Frequently in his last months with the Floyd, he'd go on stage and play no more than two notes in a whole set. "Hendrix was a perfect guitarist. And that's all I wanted to do as a kid. Play a guitar properly and jump around. But too many people got in the way. It's always been too slow for me. Playing. The pace of things. I mean, I'm a fast sprinter. The trouble was, after playing in the group for a few months, I couldn't reach that point."

"I may seem to get hung-up, that's because I am frustrated work-wise, terribly. The fact is I haven't done anything this year, I've probably been chattering, explaining that away like anything. But the other bit about not working is that you do get to think theoretically."

He'd like to get another band together. "But I can't find anybody. That's the problem. I don't know where they are. I mean, I've got an idea that there must be someone to play with. If I was going to play properly, I should need some really good people."

Syd leaves the cellar and goes up to a sedate little room full of pictures of himself with his family. He was a pretty child. English tea, cake and biscuits, arrives. Like many innovators, Barrett seems to have missed the recognition due to him, while others have cleaned up. "I'd like to be rich. I'd like a lot of money to put into my physicals and to buy food for all my friends.

"I'll show you a book of all my songs before you go. I think it's so exciting. I'm glad you're here." He produces a folder containing all his recorded songs to date, neatly typed, with no music. Most of them stand alone as written pieces. Sometimes simple, lyrical, though never without some touch of irony. Sometimes surreal, images weaving dreamily, echoes of a mindscape that defies traditional analysis. Syd's present favourite is "Wolfpack," a taut threatening, claustrophobic number. It finishes with:

Mind the Reflecting electricity eyes
The Life that was ours grew sharper
and stronger away and beyond
short wheeling fresh spring
gripped with blanched bones moaned
Magnesium Proverbs and sobs

Syd thinks people who sing their own songs are boring. He has never recorded anyone else's. He produces a guitar and begins to strum out a new version of "Love You," from Madcap. "I worked this out yesterday. I think it's much better. It's my new 12-string guitar. I'm just getting used to it. I polished it yesterday." It's a Yamaha. He stops and eases it into a regular tuning, shaking his head. "I never felt so close to a guitar as that silver one with mirrors that I used on stage all the time. I swapped it for the black one, but I've never played it."

Syd is 25 now, and worried about getting old. "I wasn't always this introverted," he says, "I think young people should have a lot of fun. But I never seem to have any." Suddenly he points out the window. "Have you seen the roses? There's a whole lot of colours." Syd says he doesn't take acid anymore, but he doesn't want to talk about it... "There's really nothing to say." He goes into the garden and stretches out on an old wooden seat. "Once you're into something..." he says, looking very puzzled. He stops. "I don't think I'm easy to talk about. I've got a very irregular head. And I'm not anything that you think I am anyway."

This story is from the December 23rd, 1971 issue of Rolling Stone.

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            :: SITE UPDATED ::  Oct 15 2017

●● new LPs & EPs are here ●●

what can i say = LISTEN TO THE SONGS.  push all the short attention span theater shit to the side and LISTEN. music is embedded all over this site.  let the albums & EPs play from start to finish.  they are not just collections of random songs. also my music is for that end of the night nightcap in headphones not background for the party.  i suggest you approach it that way & engage it in that setting and the rest is up to you.

 

if you are looking for predictable simpleton drivel meant to appease empty Ameri-con trash you are in the wrong place i assure you.  the bulk of your friends list on Facebook will help you out if that is the mirror you seek. click that red link now and get your worthless tacky ass out of here QUICKLY.

 

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my previous releases before the ones linked above are as follows: Chapter One was released May 18th 2013.  the Mrs. Produkt EP was released March 2nd 2013 & Der Schnitt was released February 9th 2013.  please go purchase them & support independence. you can name your price.  if you're broke put in $0 and take it for free with no strings attached.  i do not want your email.  i do not give a fuck about your "like".  i do not want to contact you.  what i want is for you to LISTEN.  click on any album cover to show you where you can download them.  COOL ??????????

 

 

BOTTOM FEEDER: THE SOCIALITE was released December 15th 2012.  this was my 6th full length album in 2012.  10 new tracks.

and this ever-evolving collection of covers is always FREE. click her to show you where you can download it now.

 

 

music as an industry is going to continue to reside in the gutter until more of you start caring for it properly again.  it's so PURR-fect that the Ameri-con way has sold so many on the notion that it's pointless to drop $10 on music but don't worry about doing the same thing at McDonald's a few times a week for glorified dog food.  that's COMPLETELY normal.

 

for now i only deal with Bandcamp because unlike iTunes i can keep it donation based.  i also deal with Bandcamp because they are the coolest & best company selling digital music on the web right now and they are aiding the cause not hurting it like iTunes.  PERIOD.  Bandcamp will covert your payment from almost any currency imaginable and you can get better quality downloads from them as well. you're not just helping me you're helping so many others including the audience of any genre outside the pathetic and predictable mainstream industry that is as marginal and washed up as it has ever been.  i can not be more honest than that.

  

yes this site is 1st and foremost about my music but it is also about many of the other things that i love OR hate and anything else i feel like in between.  if you search through the menu you will find all of my (currently available) releases.  but you will also find some of my paintings & photography.

 

the Journals & Written Word links in the menu above are loaded with my writing.  i am constantly updating it as well as every other section of this site.

 

up above in this column check the date of the last update underneath my picture.  it will always be extremely current GUARANTEED.  as part of the audience i know music/band sites for the most part are PAINFULLY BORING, infrequently updated, & lacking content so i hope to present something much more interesting & extensive.  i guarantee that every day you return here you can/will find something new.

 

if you email me i'll answer.  it's a real simple process.  i respect people who participate not those who hide in their thinly veiled cyber corners playing their tired petty fame games.  to me there is absolutely zero mystique in that.  i'm a complete hermit by nature so 99% of you will most likely never get to know me in person anyway so here's a virtual part of me instead.  thank you for perusing.