Monday, March 4, 2024

Have You Acquired It But? Some ideas on Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd and “the hip dream”


One of many first voices you hear in Roddy Bogawa and Storm Thorgerson’s documentary is Syd Barrett himself. Taken from a 1968 interview, Barrett discusses returning to the visible arts after his latest “break” from Pink Floyd. “If I need to say nothing, or if I need to act in a unprecedented manner, then I really feel that’s justified,” he says in his meticulous, if barely stoned, BBC English tones. You would argue that he had already acted “in a unprecedented manner”, because the main mild of Britain’s psychedelic underground. Now freed from the pressures of business expectation, vivid new potentialities offered themselves. However after two scruffy, endearing solo albums, Barrett selected as a substitute “to say nothing”, absenting himself within the early ’70s till his loss of life in 2006. Whereas Have You Acquired It But? reminds us of Barrett’s many presents, in doing so it additionally inevitably underscores what – and who – received misplaced alongside the best way. “You couldn’t over-emphasise his significance,” says Nick Mason. “He was a inventive genius.”

On this context, Barrett’s upbringing in Fifties Cambridge, amongst well-off tutorial households with bohemian tastes, supplies beneficial materials from which to analyze his early promise. We hear from a lot of Barrett’s friends and faculty buddies – of which Thorgerson was one – who keep in mind a tall, good-looking youth with good hair, so endowed that he even “smelled good”. As fellow Cantabrigian Andrew Rawlinson sees it, “Every little thing he turned to labored. The ladies labored. The portray labored. The music labored. The friendships labored.” In 1964, Barrett moved from a safe ecosystem in Cambridge into one other, barely much less safe one in London, to check artwork at Camberwell Faculty of Arts; a lot of his buddies moved, too. Earlier than lengthy he was in a band with Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Rick Wright and Bob Klose; finally he was incomes £200 every week with The Pink Floyd and artwork took a again seat to his blossoming music profession.

Interesting as David Gilmour’s assertion is that “Life was simply too simple for him”, because it progresses, Have You Acquired It But? turns into a extra delicate cautionary story than anybody might need anticipated. This takes place on the prosperous finish of the counterculture, as Syd’s wider circle of buddies head out from their flats in South Kensington to the more and more standard acid-soaked rave-ups within the capital. “We thought we had been shifting on this fantastic path to Utopia,” says Peter Wynne-Wilson, Floyd’s former lighting engineer. “We had been absolutely engaged within the hip dream – and it was a dream. We had religious heights in our sights. And Syd, too.” As is commonly the best way with gilded youth, all the pieces appeared so easy – till such time because it wasn’t. In footage, we see Barrett within the studio turning the dials on his Binson Echorec, interviewed alongside Waters on BBC2’s The Look Of The Week or on stage with the Floyd throughout their technicolour peak. However the pressures on Barrett turned appreciable. Co-manager Andrew King recollects the Floyd’s three-week stint performing “See Emily Play” on Prime Of The Pops: “By the third week, we couldn’t discover him wherever…”

Whereas it is a movie about Syd, it’s additionally a movie about Storm Thorgerson, who started the venture with Bogawa in 2011 and died from most cancers in 2013, earlier than he might full it. As a lot as Thorgerson is mining his old style buddies for tales of Syd, there’s a valedictory high quality right here, too. “This entire story relies upon upon the reminiscences of individuals of our age,” acknowledges Roger Waters. At the very least 5 of the movie’s speaking heads have died since their interviews happened.

Thorgerson’s involvement opened loads of doorways – together with Gilmour, Mason and Waters, there are interviews with Barrett’s sister Rosemary, a string of his former flames, pals and admirers together with Pete Townshend, Graham Coxon and Tom Stoppard. However whereas the vibe typically appears like outdated buddies reminiscing – “Jenny expensive, inform me the way you first met Syd” – the outcomes are quite extra candid and satisfying than you would possibly in any other case anticipate. “We in all probability did as a lot as we might, however we had been all very younger,” says Gilmour. “I remorse that I by no means went as much as his home in Cambridge – within the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s. However none of us did.”

Have You Acquired It But? is a part of a modest flurry of Barrett exercise, together with the launch of an official Youtube channel and a BBC Radio 4 drama, The Ballad Of Syd & Morgan, a couple of fictional assembly between Barrett and EM Forster. Touchdown throughout Darkish Aspect Of The Moon’s fiftieth anniversary 12 months, these act as a welcome reminder of the delicate visionary who set the Floyd on their interstellar path. “Syd outlined the entire of that second within the ’60s,” says Townshend in Bogawa and Thorgerson’s documentary. “The color, the vivacity of it. The psychedelic freedom.”

Important, then, for lovers all over the place of gingerbread males, terrapins and mice known as Gerald.

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