Top 10 Syd Barrett Songs

Syd Barrett Songs

Feature Photo: Shawn Goldberg / Shutterstock.com

Roger Keith “Syd” Barrett is best known as the founder and original guitarist and vocalist of Pink Floyd. He appeared on their first two albums but was forced out of the band due to problems with drugs and deteriorating mental health. Despite these struggles, Syd Barrett released two solo albums of original work, The Madcap Laughs and Barrett. Both albums were released in 1970. Neither album was particularly commercially successful, but they became cult classics in the following years. Unfortunately, Barrett’s struggles with mental illness caused him to leave the music industry entirely by the mid-seventies.

Syd lived out the rest of his life in seclusion, rarely agreeing to see anyone or to speak to the press. Since then, his solo work has gone on to influence other famous musicians such as The Damned, Smashing Pumpkins, R.E.M., and Soundgarden. Barrett’s solo work influenced late 80s and 90s alternative and grunge bands. This article will focus on Syd Barrett’s solo career post-Pink Floyd.

# 10 – It’s No Good Trying

This upbeat folk rock song appears on Syd Barrett’s first solo album, The Madcap Laughs. “Its No Good Trying” was released by Harvest Records in 1970. “It’s No Good Trying” features a mix of acoustic folk and electric slide guitar. “It’s No Good Trying” took only a few takes to record. Syd’s slide guitar was played backward to give it a more psychedelic feel. After going through multiple producers, Syd’s old bandmate Roger Waters and Pink Floyd’s replacement singer and guitarist David Gilmour were brought in to finish the album.

# 9 – Terrapin

“Terrapin” is a folk and blues-influenced love song, kicking off Syd Barrett’s first album, The Madcap Laughs. “Terrapin” has a catchy chorus and mellow tempo. “Terrapin” features sparse instrumentation, with Barrett only accompanying himself on acoustic and slide guitar. The lyrics and title of “Terrapin” invoke aquatic imagery like fish and sea turtles. Barrett’s whispery, whimsical vocals give “Terrapin” an almost otherworldly feel.

# 8 – Baby Lemonade

The first track on his final release is 1970’s Barrett. “Baby Lemonade” starts off with a slide guitar solo expertly executed by Syd. Barrett was warming up, but producer David Gilmour managed to record it for the intro to “Baby Lemonade.” There was little animosity between Barrett and his former Pink Floyd bandmates, and they played a significant role in the production and music of Syd’s solo work. “Baby Lemonade” features Syd on guitar and vocals, David Gilmour on the organ, bass, and twelve-string guitar, and Pink Floyd organ player Richard Wright on piano, Hammond organ, and production. Barrett’s friend Jerry Shirley of the hard rock band Humble Pie played drums on “Baby Lemonade.”

# 7 – Late Night

The final track on The Madcap Laughs“Late Night” was produced by Peter Jenner and Malcolm Jones, both of whom quit before finishing the album due to Syd’s erratic behavior. “Late Night” was one of Barrett’s earliest recorded solo tracks. The lyrics of “Late Night” feature themes of absence, which often appear throughout Barrett’s solo work, such as the line “Inside me I feel/Alone and unreal,” giving a rare glimpse into Syd’s mental condition as he felt it. “Late Night” closes the album with a slow, tender, and melancholy sound.

# 6 – Wolfpack

This unusual psychedelic folk rock song was released in 1970 on Syd’s second album, the eponymous Barrett“Wolfpack” has surreal lyrics about a wild pack of wolves with lines such as “electricity eyes” and “magnesium proverbs.” The instrumentation on “Wolfpack” mixes folk rock and psychedelia. “Wolfpack” focuses on Syd’s vocals and the complex interplay between the acoustic rhythm guitar and Barrett’s trademark idiosyncratic electric slide guitar.

# 5 – Octopus

Released in 1970 as the first single from Barrett’s first solo album, The Madcap Laughs. “Octopus” uses a folk rock-style mix of instruments. The acoustic and electric slide guitar is especially prominent on “Octopus.”Syd sings in a completely different style in the second verse than in the first verse and chorus, making it sound like “Octopus” had two singers rather than one.

The surreal lyrics talk about merrily tripping, mad cats laughing, an octopus-shaped ride at the fair, and the peace of being in the forest. “Octopus” was one of Barrett’s most successful singles, reaching number forty on the UK charts and selling 20,000 copies in a few weeks. “Octopus” was Barrett’s only single as a solo artist. “Octopus” features production by former Pink Floyd bandmates Roger Waters, David Gilmour, and Syd himself. Gilmour plays drums and bass on “Octopus,” while Syd plays acoustic and electric guitar.

# 4 – No Man’s Land

This highly underrated track is from The Madcap Laughs.“No Man’s Land” features Syd on vocals and guitar, Jerry Shirley of Humble Pie on drums, and Willie Wilson, David Gilmour’s old bandmate from Joker’s Wild on bass. “No Man’s Land” heavily uses distortion and noise in this track. “No Man’s Land” has a hard, rocking, dirty sound that predated the punk movement by seven years. First-wave Punk band, The Damned, tried unsuccessfully to get Barrett to produce their second album. The end portion of “No Man’s Land” features a long noise rock jam with Barrett speaking seemingly random words over distorted electric guitar, such as “heavily spaced.”

# 3 – Opel

Though it was recorded and produced by Malcolm Jones in 1968, “Opel” didn’t make it onto either of Syd Barrett’s studio albums and wasn’t released until the 1988 compilation album, also called Opel. “Opel” is a minimalist folk-style song with only Barrett playing chords on acoustic guitar and singing. “Opel” has dark, mysterious lyrics about misty beaches with black sand. Barrett’s guitar playing is very textural, and his low-voiced, near-monotone vocal delivery adds to the overall mysterious, otherworldly atmosphere of “Opel.”

# 2 – Dominoes

This jazzy psychedelic rock tune came out on Syd’s second release, 1970’s Barrett. “Dominoes” has catchy, surreal lyrics about playing dominoes and wasting time. “Dominoes” focuses on Syd’s guitar playing and Richard Wright’s organ. The slide guitar solo in “Dominoes” shows off some of the best guitar work of Barrett’s entire musical career. The solo was recorded and played backward for an even more disorienting, psychedelic effect. “Dominoes” was produced by Roger Waters and David Gilmour.

# 1 – Dark Globe

This melancholy song was initially released on The Madcap Laughs. “Dark Globe” is a folk song with dark and very personal lyrics. Barrett sings about Eskimo chains that tatter his brain, likely referencing his struggles with mental illness. The “Dark Globe” chorus is “Wouldn’t you miss me at all?” This could be interpreted as a reference to Barrett’s short career with Pink Floyd or as an oddly prescient prediction of his eventual seclusion from society.“Dark Globe” is one of Barrett’s most personal songs and one of the saddest, showing the theme of absence often present in his work. “Dark Globe” has been covered by major bands such as R.E.M. and Soundgarden.

 

Top 10 Syd Barrett Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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