You Cried For The Moon

I heard about the bombings in Mumbai on the way home from Gymboree.

Syd Barrett died on Friday, but it was only announced this morning.

I've been thinking of Syd all day. Annoyed that no radio stations have played Shine On Crazy Diamond or Wish You Were Here, or at least, none were playing them when I was listening (which shows the level of my irritability that I should expect the radio stations to be playing these songs in heavy rotation as tribute so that I may hear them for the 15 minutes I am listening to the station.)

Unlike most people, I do not think of Syd Barrett, first and foremost, as the man who formed Pink Floyd, but left the band due to mental instability and who was not around for The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall, or any of their megastardom of the seventies. I don't think of Syd Barrett as a man driven to the brink by his own internal demons, preexisting mental condition, and too much LSD. I think of Syd Barrett as the man who sounded like Robyn Hitchcock. It is uncanny. Not just the voice (which is surely a result of them being from the same part of the world), but the lyrical looniness, overall style, and, heck, they even looked similar in their youth (as far as I can tell, but then, I never actually saw Syd Barrett in real life). Of course, I should say that Robyn Hitchcock sounds like Syd Barrett since, well, according to his bio, Robyn didn't get a guitar until 1967 and, by then, Pink Floyd were recording The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

I could write for many days on Robyn Hitchcock, Pink Floyd, or Syd Barrett's solo work, but I probably wouldn't be able to explain why I am saddened by the death of Syd Barrett.

When I hear the song Wish You Were Here, I think of friendship. I think of the people who I loved who are no longer here because they checked out before their time. I think of the people I loved who have descended too far into their madness for me to reach them. I think of the people I loved who I couldn't save. The people who still occasionally haunt my dreams. I tell myself that I want them to be happy, and if the choices they made, the choices which made it impossible for me to be part of their lives, have made them happy, then I can live with the pain. And most of the time I mean it.

So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell, Blue skies from pain. Can you tell a green field From a cold steel rail? A smile from a veil? Do you think you can tell? Did they get you to trade Your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air to a cool breeze? Cold comfort for change? Did you exchange A walk on part in the war, For a lead role in a cage? How I wish, how I wish you were here. We're just two lost souls Swimming in a fish bowl, Year after year, Running over the same old ground. Have we found? The same old fears. Wish you were here.

RIP Syd Barrett. You were missed in life as you will be in death. You were loved. You created some beautiful music and inspired more people than you could know. In the end, isn't this all we could hope to achieve in our short time on earth?

But today was anything but a slow news day and it is hard not to feel that focussing on the death of one troubled genius is indulgent when confronted with the deaths of so many innocents. I'm thinking of the people in what was once Bombay as well, thinking of those who died and those who are left behind to pick up the pieces and mourn.


Anonymous said…
I don't know if I'm the only one who thinks so, but those P.F. songs you mentioned are favorites of mine. By the time The Wall came around, there were too many wierd mother-issues in all of the songs that creeped me out.

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