Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd and Mental Illness…

Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd and Mental Illness...

There is no question that Syd Barrett was one of the “umma” (the brotherhood of prophets – see Herbert’s “Dune”) and “just mad enough to be holy.” Barrett’s madness was not quite a sudden explosion, however, but rather a gradual implosion, the clues to which he articulated in his music long before his behavior signalled distress. Syd’s songs contained warnings from the beginning: he dealt with instability and the primal need for comfort via authority’s fairytales (“Matilda Mother”), the desire for control of a situation and the outsider/observer role (“Flaming”). The lyrics of “Jugband Blues” (on Floyd’s Saucerful Of Secrets) also spelled out some of his conflicts. By the time of The Madcap Laughs and Barrett, Syd’s songs clearly revealed raw spots in his psyche amid the poetically jumbled voodoo of his writing.


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