But, After All, Why Not?
Old footage of doomed people always hits me pretty hard anyhow: it's my weakness for narrative, my inherent vulnerability toward decided-upon endings. Something to do with childhood, I think. But beyond my personal feeling for such stories, I think there's a sadness no sensitive person could miss in this clip of Syd Barrett and Roger Waters on British television. Here is Barrett as all his friends say they remember him: bright, soft-spoken, a little shy, passionate in a very muted and hesitant way. Practically everyone who thinks about Syd Barrett at all has a preferred version of the story: either he was a madman who chased his madness out past the point of return, or he was an "acid casualty," or his vision consumed him, or he was chewed up by fame. These, and admixtures of these, make up the going versions of The Syd Story. The probable truth is that schizophrenia travels on the gene, and somewhere within the unpredictable workings of Barrett's brain chemistry, a switch went off. Whether it might have been helped along by LSD or personal pressure is more or less beside the point. The facts as we have them are enough: he was a young man with a distinct voice, and then that voice disintegrated, never to be found whole again. It is almost unbearably sad to hear that young man speak his mind - to hear, with foreknowledge of what will follow, a uniquely creative mind at work. The loss begs huge questions for me, practically tabling all others, the essential one being "why," which opens onto several knottier versions of itself. Good luck.
TrackBack URL for this entry: