The Purple Bottle

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Robyn on Syd from Uncut Magazine

I feel really sad about Syd’s death. I’d just got used to the idea that he’d never do anything again - just sit there forever in Cambridge, being Roger. And with Syd a dwindling spectre in the distance, his host body Roger could potter about, this strange combination of old man and small child. The idea that he actually died is an incredibly decisive thing to do, for him; it’s the highest profile thing he’s done since 1972, although it wasn’t his idea.I suppose I hoped, like a lot of people, that there’d be some kind of rekindling. Not that he’d write songs again, but maybe he’d give an interview -that there’d be some sort of glimpse of how he saw it all, before he went. But obviously there isn’t. That’s it. He’s taken his silence to the grave.
I think there was a struggle between “Syd” and “Roger”. I know he didn’t like to be known as Syd. The people in the Floyd camp say he was upset by being remindedof what he’d been. He had this struggle because he was briefly a glamorous popstar, but he was also an avant-garde artist, and this was back in 1967. And I think he found the two incompatible. But I think he probably also blamed himself for not being able to hold onto it. He was very frustrated with himself, but you can’t really see into how he must have felt, at having been so creative and losing it. He did paint. I think he probably rebuilt himself to carry on where he’d left off as an art student. And I know he’d had fantasies about being a doctor because that’s what his father was. So I think he tried to rebuild a life, skirting around the crater of having been Syd Barrett. We’re all talking about “Syd Barrett”, who really hasn’t existed since 1971. But behind that,there was this human who, however distorted things became, felt the emotions that produced that intense, beautiful,solitary music, which are still my three all-time favourite records. What I love about his work is that you can feel the person in there. He probably wasn’t capable of introspection; maybe that’s why he flipped out so badly. I’m one of the few who prefers the solo work. There’s a real honesty about it, in a world where so much is doctored and calculated and done for effect - even being a rock’n’roll casualty. What Barrett produced, he couldn’t help producing. And when it had gone, he could do no more. There are a lot of people making records now who’ve been stars in the past, and their records aren’t bad. But they just don’t matter. I don’t think that Barrett ever made a record that didn’t matter.
Favourite track: “Wolfpack”. Or “Rats”, the angry child taking it out on himself.


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