Man, I am just totally bummed out today, and driving my fiancee nuts listening to See Emily Play over and over again at maximum volume. Today it has been announced that both Syd Barrett (driving force behind a young and vibrant Pink Floyd until his mental and drug problems consumed him) and Billy Preston (the legendary “Fifth Beatle,” who played keyboards for both The Beatles and The Stones) have died. I can’t keep my mind off of Syd, especially since I started playing his music again quite unexpectedly about a week ago.
It bears mentioning that poor Syd is actually lucky to have been alive much past his 30s in the first place, and spent much of his life in quiet obscurity thereafter. But a life in obscurity is really not such a bad thing, especially when fame takes such a toll. I dearly hope he experienced a peaceful end of this life. In some ways, there is no more inspirational musician for me than Syd, whose lyrics ~ even by the time he’d reached his limits ~ fueled my imagination and lifted my psyche. It is sad to see someone suffer so much to have delivered us such wonderful gifts, but I don’t know that his lyrics would have been the same without the acid that eventually consumed him. I’ll get yelled at for saying that, probably by someone who has never done acid and doesn’t know.
He was among the first to push popular music out of the realm of pulp and into a larger world of expression. Rock music up to this time had been largely the stuff of teen dreams and sock hops, but when these kids ~ many of whom were classically-trained rich kids from the UK ~ got guitars in thier hands, they demanded that thier music be taken seriously as art. Without Pink Floyd or the Moody Blues, where would music be today?