The song that changed Syd Barrett, according to David Gilmour

David Gilmour

Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett was never intended to be on this earth. It was entertaining to hear them sing about the fantastical lyrics that Barrett composed for those early albums. However, it wasn’t long before Barrett started going in the wrong direction. He began producing music that was far darker than anyone had anticipated. Everyone welcomed David Gilmour as a replacement. However, he sensed a problem the moment he arrived at rehearsal and witnessed Barrett perform “See Emily Play.”

The majority of the song should have fit Barrett’s style perfectly, if anything. Hearing a song like this played on a crisp electric guitar felt like the ideal kind of single for the group. Half of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn revolves around whimsical characters that resemble something from Alice in Wonderland.

But Barett had already started to unravel by the time the group began recording for the next album. He found himself caught in a kind of daze during many sessions. He struggled to even maintain his position onstage because a lot of the traditional spark he had in the early days had disappeared.

Syd Barrett: Crazy Diamond quotes Gilmour as saying, “Syd didn’t seem to recognize me and just stared back.” Gilmour realized he was looking at someone very different from the crazy creative force he had come to know after seeing him perform the song one day. I will go on record as saying that was the moment he changed, having gotten to know that look fairly well. It came unexpectedly. He was no longer the same person.

Barrett was starting to lose it badly, so David Gilmour was there to help, even though the recording went well. Even though he enjoyed performing, his mental health issues often overcame him. As a result, he occasionally performed shows in which he simply stared at the audience. On one occasion, he played his guitar without tuning a single string before getting off the stage.

If it was uncomfortable to record “See Emily Play,” then assembling the band for A Saucerful of Secrets must have been one of the most depressing experiences of their lives. The next album was essentially a torch-passing moment from Barrett to Gilmour. Gilmour took over on guitar duties while the band had to bid adieu to one of their closest friends.

After being kicked out of a band like Pink Floyd, most musicians would go broke. However, Barrett made some amazing solo albums like The Madcap Laughs before going unnoticed a few years later. Even though he was no longer with Pink Floyd, the other members of the group continued to remember their friend.

Wish You Were Here serves as a beautiful memorial to their broken friendship, and “the lunatic” in Dark Side of the Moon serves as a decent stand-in for Barrett. His departure announced half of the band’s most successful albums. Whether Waters wants to acknowledge it or not, The Wall probably captures Barrett’s experiences more accurately than anything he encountered as a rock star.

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