Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright founded Pink Floyd in 1965. Unfortunately, this was the same year that Syd Barrett found LSD. However, this had a significant impact on the group’s musical style and also created chaos. According to biography, the band made the UK top twenty with their single Arnold Layne. In May of 1967, their fame started to rise at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall concert. During this Games for May concert, they used many things that would become part of the iconic band, including light shows and distortions. Additionally, it was during that concert they found their musical voice using enigmatic lyrics and spiritualism. That spring, they became one of the most prominent groups in the psychedelic rock genre. Most of the songs on their 1967 album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, were written by Barrett. Yet, just as this album was receiving critical acclaim, Barrett’s drug use and erratic behavior spiraled out of control. The group canceled a portion of their tour because Barret was falling apart. Additionally, on Dick Clark’s American Band Stand, he blankly stared at the crowd, and while at the Filmore West in San Francisco, he untuned his guitar instead of playing it. It’s unclear whether he was fired or whether he just gave up.
Many people thought the band wouldn’t continue after he left. The group’s management followed Barret while the rest of the members had to forge other paths. In 1970, Syd Barrett recorded two albums; The Madcap Laughs and Barrett. The second album had many members of Pink Floyd, including his replacement David Gilmour who produced many of the songs. Many of the things that made Barret so successful shone through on the album, including his quick wit, dark humor, and wordplay. The songs reflected parts of his depression and erratic behavior. After a short musical career, Barret faded from the spotlight because all the drugs and psychological issues were too intense for him to continue recording.
Although neither of his solo albums received much attention, they gained a cult following. After his brief brush with fame, he was living with his mother in 1973. Many fans wanted to hear him here perform with Pink Floyd again. He tried to rejoin the band on the 1975 album Wish You Were Here, but they rejected his help. However, by 1980 his fanbase was significant; Barrett’s BBC sessions and an extensive collection of previously unreleased songs were released. Despite such a short career, Barrett had a lasting impact on the music industry, especially the new-wave psychedelic genre. Regardless of the erratic behavior and drug addiction. The legend of Syd Barret lives on in the myth and music of the artist. These are the five best Syd Barret Pink Floyd songs.
5. Lucifer Sam
This song traces its roots back to the early days of the psychedelic rock genre, flawlessly transitioning between guitar riffs and a solid drum interlude. It was one of Barrett’s more playful tracks. The lyrics fade in and out and sometimes blend seamlessly with the guitar and drums. It seems like the lyrics are an afterthought and almost an improv against the backdrop of the guitar. Barrett had a cat named Sam, and it was thought this song was about him. Additionally, when he sings the lyric “Jennifer Gentle you’re a witch,” people thought it was about his girlfriend Jenny Spires. Barrett left a lot of room for interpretation in his music, and this is another song where there are many places to wonder what he was thinking about when he wrote it.
Bike is a quirky love song. Barrett was well-read to use words to paint musical portraits and spin a story that leaves one thinking. In this song, there is near cacophony in the back. Yet, Barrett’s voice shines through. Even if the lyrics seem strange, it was written for his girlfriend at the time. Many people think of love songs as something beautiful. However, the creepiness of the song makes it fantastic for people who prefer the oddities in life. Much like Matilda Mother, there is an element of dark childhood stories in the song.
3. Astronomy Domine
This song was written during the cold war era, so the transmitter radio, in the beginning, was undoubtedly part of Barret’s philosophical lyrics. The lyrics are a lilting trip through the galaxy. The lyrics taper in the middle of the song for sound effects reminiscent of a space shuttle taking off. Actual lyrics don’t return for a little while. There are off-and-on sound effects from the same radio effects at the beginning. The chord changes sound like a version of devolution. Potentially with other songs, it’s a deeper meaning of losing control during a troubled time in history.
2. Interstellar Overdrive
This song has no lyrics allowing the brilliant instrumentation of the group to shine through, especially Syd Barrett’s amazing guitar playing capabilities. The constant chord changes and the subtle drums in the background still communicate a message. From Barrett to Gilmour, the group has maintained a profoundly philosophical vibe, so it’s easy to get lost in the music and contemplate what they were considering when they wrote the guitar riffs and drum licks. Later, the movie Dr. Strange featured this song.
1. Matilda Mother
The song opens with a haunting vocal solo by Barrett. As the song progresses, it becomes a creepy children’s story about a child. The lyrics feel like a traditional fairytale, not something made for Disney. This song has many spiritual psychedelic sides that became a constant in the group’s later work. Even though portions of the song seem to add some lighter touches, it still sounds like part of something ominous. Much like many other Syd Barret songs, this one was inspired by Cautionary Tales For Children by Edward Gorey and Hilaire Belloc.