Syd Barrett, Baby Lemonade

Syd Barrett, a playful but reclusive singer-songwriter whose works carried me through years of my life, has died in his Cambridge home at the age of 60.

BABY LEMONADE

In the sad town
cold iron hands clap
the party of clowns outside
rain falls in grey far away
please, please, baby lemonade

In the evening sun going down
when the earth streams in, in the morning
send a cage through the post
make your name like a ghost
please, please, baby lemonade

I’m screaming, I met you this way
you’re nice to me like ice
in the clock they sent through a washing machine
come around, make it soon, so alone…
please, please, baby lemonade

In the sad town
cold iron hands clap
the party of clowns outside
rain falls in grey far away
please, please, baby lemonade

In the evening sun going down
when the earth streams in, in the morning
send a cage through the post
make your name like a ghost
please, please, baby lemonade

Syd Barrett was the founder of Pink Floyd and a very influential figure in contemporary music. He was a legendary “acid casualty” of the 60’s Swinging London scene, and was fired from Pink Floyd for his impossible behavior (former band-mates Roger Waters and David Gilmour later helped him to produce two remarkable solo albums). He attempted a comeback in the early 1970’s but the attempt was a disaster, and he retreated permanently to his mother’s home in Cambridge.

Pink Floyd’s album Wish You Were Here is largely about Syd Barrett, and some parts of The Wall combine his story with that of Roger Waters, who took over the band after Barrett left (“They sent us along as a surrogate band”, Waters sings, ironically alluding to his feelings of guilt after replacing Barrett with Gilmour, though it’s an undeniable fact that the band managed to outlive Barrett’s influence and find a new identity without him).

A close look at Barrett’s life story suggests that he he may have suffered from severe schizophrenia (though this was certainly aggravated by his rampant drug use). His songs combined a whimsical but cutting lyrical streak with an aggressively experimental approach to sound and recording. He used literary inspirations freely, borrowing from Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows for The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, and later fashioning the song Golden Hair from a James Joyce poem, Chamber Music.

For years, I dreamed I’d someday get a chance to hear a “cured” or recovered Syd Barrett perform live in concert. I’m not surprised to realize now that this will not happen. Syd, we barely got to know you.

There’s more on Syd here, here and here. If you’d like to post any lyrics or thoughts about Syd Barrett, please don’t hold back.

12 Responses

  1. Grantchester Meadows ForeverI
    Grantchester Meadows Forever

    I wrote a tribute to Syd Barrett many years ago entitled: “Grantchester Meadows Forever”. I will post it on this site as soon as I locate it in a stack of old notebooks in storage.

    I remember Pink Floyd’s “Ummagumma” album and some of their other early works in which, I believe, Syd appears. Syd was a great performer. I didn’t know that much about his lifestyle nor his personal life, but I was dismayed when he was no longer with Pink Floyd. It is sad when a person dies before their time.
    I’m on the back side of fifty, so I have seen many contemporaries go to the bone yard. Perhaps the cautionary tale, which follows lives cut short, will inspire others to seek treatment and so on if they need it. Personally, I really miss the musical input of wonderful talents whose lives were cut short by illnesses and lifestyle choices and so on. Syd was one of those wonderful talents.
    I hope the “great gates” open for him too.

  2. Steve — actually Syd was
    Steve — actually Syd was already out of the band when “Ummagumma” came out, but his song “Astronomy Domine” is one of the best songs on the album (ironically, Gilmour’s guitar playing on that song is better than Barrett’s ever could have been).

  3. very sadI have just literally
    very sad

    I have just literally read this on the BBC website… so it

  4. cloudy”For all the time spent
    cloudy

    “For all the time spent in that room
    The doll’s house, darkness, old perfume
    And fairy stories held me high on
    Clouds of sunlight floating by.
    Oh Mother, tell me more
    Tell me more.”

    – the last verse of Matilda Mother by Syd Barrett

    And you know that old saying I like to quote about chopping wood and carrying water, before & after enlightenment? I think Syd understood that.

  5. golden hairLean out of the
    golden hair

    Lean out of the window,
    Goldenhair,
    I heard you singing
    A merry air.

    My book was closed;
    I read no more,
    Watching the fire dance
    On the floor.

    I have left my book,
    I have left my room,
    For I heard you singing
    Through the gloom.

    Singing and singing
    A merry air,
    Lean out the window,
    Goldenhair.

  6. I first heard “Pink Floyd’s”
    I first heard “Pink Floyd’s” Album, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” at a friend’s house after seeing the movie “The Trip”, featuring “The Electric Flag” on soundtrack & starring Peter Fonda, in 1967. I appreciated Syd Barrett’s guitar and songs and later on, in 1970, saw the movie “Zabriskie Point” which featured Pink Floyd on its sound track. Syd Barrett left the group in 1968. However, Syd Barrett was included in “Saucerful of Secrets” (1968) and had his song “Astronomy Domine” reprised in “Ummagumma”(1969) with Gilmour as the guitarist. I liked the earlier “Piper…” version of the song as well as the one with Gilmour in 1969. Barrett also appears in “The Best of Pink Floyd”, as well as his single albums. See his discography,,,

  7. Pink Floyd’s Second SingleSee
    Pink Floyd’s Second Single

    See Emily Play
    (Barret)
    Emily tries but misunderstands
    She’s often inclined to borrow somebody’s dreams ’til tomorrow
    CHORUS
    There is no other day
    Let’s try it another way
    You’ll lose your mind and play
    Free games for May
    See Emily play

    Soon after dark Emily cries
    Gazing at trees in sorrow hardly a sound ’til tomorrow
    CHORUS
    Put on a gown that touches the ground
    Float on a river for ever and ever Emily
    CHORUS

    Until today, I didn’t know this dinosaur rock’s [1967] cultural (in)significance but believe it was a song one used to have to know to be considered relevant which is why it was on an unedited tape I recorded off radio KKUT’s Trendsetters show in the ’80s and I heard it many times because I wanted to hear the song after it, Poison 13’s One Step Closer.

  8. I’m TRY-ing”Just searching
    I’m TRY-ing

    “Just searching you even try / I can make you smile / If it’s there will you go there too? / When I live I die. / They even see me under call / We under all, we awful, awful crawl / Because of you, to see me be.” (“No Man’s Land”, The Madcap Laughs).

    It’s as if he tried singing himself from voyeur to voyant, as if he wanted to chant the “I” he felt as “other” closer to the “you”. A gesture towards the other, and the attempt to achieve brief union with and through song; as if the disintegration of self he felt caused a need to find a new status for the “you” of the other.

    I’m hearing this in many of his songs (Hear “Vegetable Man”: “…it’s what I got / It’s what I wear, it’s what you see / It must be me, it’s what I am !’).

    And “I’m TRY—-ing… I’m trying to find you”, he sings after having changed chords about thirty times in “Opel”. May you have finally found, Syd, and rest in peace now!

  9. My Thoughts and feelings on
    My Thoughts and feelings on Syd

    Syd Barrett influenced me in a way a lot of lyricists couldn’t have. I had listened to his early Floyd recordings, and eventually bought his first solo album “The Madcap Laughs” and quickly thereafter his second and final album, “Barrett.” I don’t know about you guys, but Syd Barrett is not dead in me, because I’m carrying his influence around whereever I go, on whatever I write or perform. He inspired my poems, my prose, and my music. So I would like to share two lyrics, the first a song from “Barrett” called “It Is Obvious” a little rhyme that is a great example of what I love about Syd. It’s the stream of conscious of an amazing mind, definetely a HUGE influence on me,

    “It is obvious
    may I say, oh baby, that it is found on another plane?
    Yes I can creep into cupboards, sleep in the hall
    your stars – my stars, a simple cock bar
    only an impulse – pie in the sky
    mumble listen dolly
    drift over your mind – holly
    creep into bed when your head’s on the ground
    she held the torch on the porch,
    she winked an eye

    Reason it is written on the brambles
    stranded on the spikes – my blood red, oh listen:
    remember those times I could call
    through the clear day
    time – be there…
    braver and braver, a handkercheif waver
    the louder your lips to a loud hailer
    growing together, they (‘re) growing each either
    no wondering, stumbling, fumbling
    rumbling minds shot togther,
    our minds shot together…

    So equally over a valley, a hill
    wood on quarry stood, each of us crying
    a velvet curtain of grey
    mark the blanket where the sparrows play
    and the trees by the waving corn stranded
    my legs move the last empty inches to you
    the softness, the warmth from the weather in suspense
    mote to a grog – the star a white chalk
    minds shot together, our minds shot together”

    for more of that style see “Octopus” from “The Madcap Laughs.” Now, for the second song I would like to share, a song from the first solo record called “Dark Globe.” As if a diary entry from his death day, he howls the words “Wouldn’t You Miss Me at all?”

    “Oh where are you now
    pussy willow that smiled on this leaf?
    When I was alone you promised the stone from your heart
    my head kissed the ground
    I was half the way down, treading the sand
    please, please, lift a hand
    I’m only a person whose armbands beat
    on his hands, hang tall
    won’t you miss me?
    Wouldn’t you miss me at all?

    The poppy birds sway
    swing twigs coffee brands around
    brandish her wand with a feathery tongue
    my head kissed the ground
    I was half the way down, treading the sand
    please, please, please lift the hand
    I’m only a person with eskimo chain
    I tattooed my brain all the way…
    Won’t you miss me?
    Wouldn’t you miss me at all?”

    Gone but not forgotten, Syd Barrett.

  10. Dark GlobeOh where are you
    Dark Globe

    Oh where are you now
    pussy willow that smiled on this leaf?
    When I was alone you promised the stone from your heart
    my head kissed the ground
    I was half the way down, treading the sand
    please, please, lift a hand
    I’m only a person whose armbands beat
    on his hands, hang tall
    won’t you miss me?
    Wouldn’t you miss me at all?

    The poppy birds way
    swing twigs coffee brands around
    brandish her wand with a feathery tongue
    my head kissed the ground
    I was half the way down, treading the sand
    please, please, please lift the hand
    I’m only a person with Eskimo chain
    I tattooed my brain all the way…
    Won’t you miss me?
    Wouldn’t you miss me at all?

  11. sydmusic is my life. syd has
    syd

    music is my life. syd has been a hero since i started buying 45s. goodbye syd. still listen to you everyday. when floyd hit big, still always thought of you! shine on you crazy diamond.

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