Syd Barrett: Lucy Leave & Other Rarities

Pink Floyd Interviews

  • The Piper

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    From:! (Geoff Rimmer)
    Date: Tue, 20 Apr 1993 13:56:24 -0600
    Subject: Syd interview+roio

    I just bought a CD roio called "Syd Barrett - Lucy Leave & other
    rarities." The CD booklet contains an interview with Syd (see below).

    The cover has a picture of Nick, Roger, Syd and Rick. Syd's cutting a
    cake, Roger's pouring champagne AND SMILING!!! (First and last time?)
    The Cd has a picture of Syd walking down the street, fastening up his
    blue T-shirt. I don't know when the picture was taken, but he's not
    got much hair left! Not because he's shaved it - actual baldness.
    Now where did I put that colour scanner? :)

    Some tracks are the same as on Opel, (e.g. Word Song and Birdie Hop)
    Others are completely different from any of Syd's solo albums. I have
    a horrible thought that the new box set (out Monday 26th April
    according to HMV in Birmingham.) will simply be a combination of
    Madcap, Barrett, Opel and this roio!

    Two tracks are "Lucy Leave" and "I'm a Kingbee". What was the echoes
    conclusion about these? Who sang them? (It doesn't *sound* like
    Barrett.) The CD says these tracks are:

    "Very rare acetate (as Screaming Abdabs), recorded May 15th 1965
    (Syd Barrett/Roger Waters)."

    If Roger ever does a radio phone in, make sure you call and ask him
    "Where were you on the night of May 15th 1965?"

    Anyway, here's the interview (I think it comes from about 1970).
    Oh, and there's definitely no mention of The Orb :)

    (Syd's words are indented 4 spaces)

    There is a formiable and sometimes rather tasteless mystique
    surrouding Syd Barrett not very different to that which until recently
    went hand in hand with the name of Arthur Lee. What little has been
    written has only added weight to the myth of a modern Nietzsche/
    Nijinsky figure who mumbles inanities and vague things about "getting
    it together." Strangely enough, Syd turns out to be as normal,
    unkempt, and emaciated as most of us. Talkative, unpretentious, and
    above all, very human...

    Piper at the Gates of Dawn?
    "Wind in the Willows." That was very difficult in some ways,
    getting used to the studios and everything. But it was fun, we
    freaked about a lot. I was working very hard then; there's still
    lots of stuff lying around from then, even some of the stuff on
    Some of your songs seem rather obscure - like Chapter 24 on Piper.
    Chapter 24...that was from I Ching, there was someone around who
    was very into that, most of the words came straight off that.
    Lucifer Sam was another one - it didn't means much to me at the
    time, but then three or four months later it cam to mean a lot.
    How important are lyrics to you?
    Very important. I think it's good if a song has more than one
    meaning. Maybe that kind of song can reach far more people,
    that's nice. On the other hand, I like songs that are simple. I
    liked Arnold Layne because to me it was a very clear song.
    Some of your words don't come over too clearly, like on Octopus
    there's "little Minnie Conn coughs and clears his throat". Have you
    though about printing the words on the sleeve next time?
    Yeah that would be nice (laughing). That was "little minute
    What about Octopus - that was my personal favourite.
    I carried that about in my head for about six months before I
    actually wrote it so maybe that's why it came out so well. The
    idea was likethose number songs like "Green Grow the Rushes Ho"
    where you have, say, twelve lines each related to the next and an
    overall theme. It's like a fool-proof combination of lyrics,
    really, and then the chorus comes in and changes the tempo but
    holds the whole thing together.
    There;s a strong childhood feel to a lot of your songs with lots of
    fairy-tale and nursery rhyme elements. Have you ever thought of
    writing for kids?
    Fairy-tales are nice...I think a lot of it has to do with living
    in Cambridge, with nature and everything - it's so clean, and I
    still drive back a lot. Maybe if I'd stayed at college, I would
    have become a teacher. Leaving school and suddenly being without
    that structure around you and nothing to relate to...maybe that's
    a part of it, too.
    There was a strong science-fiction thing in the early Floyd. Were you
    ever into that?
    Not really, except "Journey into Space" and "Quatermass", which
    was when I was about fifteen, so that could be where it came from.
    Your lyrics could be described as surrealistic collages. Did your art
    training affect your writing?
    Only the rate of work, learning to work hard. I do tend to take
    lines from other things, lines I like, and then write around them
    but I don't consciously relate to painting. It's just writing
    good songs that matters, really.
    Do you still paint?
    Not much. The guy who lives next door to me paints, and he's
    doing it well, so I don't really feel the need.
    Do you want to do other things?
    A lot of people want to make films and do photography and things,
    but I'm quite happy doing what I'm doing.
    Are you into other people's music?
    I don't really buy many records - there's so much around that you
    don't know what to listen to. All I've got at home is Bo Diddley,
    some Stones and Beatles stuff and old jazz records. I like
    Family, they do some nice things.
    What about the Underground?
    I haven't been to the Arts Lab or anything, so I don't really know
    what's happening. There are just so many people running around
    doing different thingsand no kind of unity. It doesn't really
    bother me.
    Do you read poetry?
    I've got Penguins lying around at home. Shakespeare and Chaucer,
    you know? But I don't really read a lot. Maybe I should.
    Were you satisfied with Madcap Laughs?
    Yes, I liked what came out, only it was released far too long
    after it was done. I wanted it to be a whole thing that people
    would listen to all the way through with everything related and
    balanced, the tempos and moods offsetting each other, and I hope
    that's what it sounds like, I've got it at home, but I don't
    listen to it much now.
    Madcap is rather gentle compated with your Floyd stuff. What about
    the new album?
    There'll be all kinds of things. It just depends what I feel like
    doing at the time. The important thing is that it will be better
    than the last.
    In "No Man's Land" on Madcap there's a long spoken part which is
    barely audible, like the "faded" lyrics of Astronomy Domine. Was the
    intention to abstract the words into just background noise?
    Originally the words were meant to be heard clearly, but we went
    and actually did it, that's how it came out, which wasn't really
    how I'd planned it.
    How's the guitar playing?
    I always write with guitar. I've got this big room and I just go
    in and do the work. I like to do the words and music
    simultaneously, so when I go into the studio I've got the words on
    one side and my music on the other. I suppose I could do with
    some practice.
    What about the future? Are you looking forward to singing and playing
    Yes, that would be nice. I used to enjoy it, it was a gas. But
    so's doing nothing. It's art school laziness, really, I've got
    this Wembley gig and then another thing in summer.
    What about forming a band?
    I'll be getting something together for the Wembley thing and then
    just see what happens.
    And now?
    I'm working on the album. There's four tracks in the can already,
    and it should be out about September. There are no set musicians,
    just people helping out, like on Madcap, which gives me far more
    freedom in what I want to do...I geel as if I've got lots of
    things, much better things to do still, that's why there isn't
    really a lot to say, I just want to get it all done.


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