Wish You Were Here

Syd Barrett, visiting Abbey Road Studios on 5 ...
Syd Barrett, visiting Abbey Road Studios on 5 June 1975. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just watched the documentary about the making of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here that was on a couple of weeks ago.

I enjoyed it; I’m not a Pink Floyd fan, but I have always liked that title track, with the 12-string guitar and its country-ish feel. I liked it a long time before I knew I liked country music. I was never a member of the Syd Barrett cult. Couldn’t see it, still can’t – there’s an awful lot of romance attached to those who burn out or die young. I suppose  a lot of people see their own unfulfilled potential in such figures.

It brought up some memories actually, of my early teenage years and a period of time when I wasn’t quite sure what I liked and also felt very lonely. I knew I liked The Beatles, but that was about all I knew. The first album I bought was the Beatles Blue compilation; I think after that I bought the following, in no particular order: a Hawkwind (!) album; Thin Lizzy Live and Dangerous; and Pink Floyd Animals.

I liked bits of Animals. Some good melodies, but not enough guitars for me. The Hawkwind album was one that had a track I frequently heard on Radio Caroline: “Spirit of the Age”, which I confess sounded much more interesting coming over a late-night, swirling, drifting AM radio signal.

There were a couple of other kids at school were sort of interested in Pink Floyd. John, who would become my closest friend later on, had a couple of the early ones in his house. I remember hearing “Set the Controls…” and thinking it was boring. Think they were his Dad’s really. And someone else had Wish You Were Here and lent it to me.

I probably taped it.

Watching the film, it was fascinating as ever to feel the ongoing needle between Waters and Gilmour, albeit toned down. Waters spoke pointedly about the “valuable brand” of Pink Floyd. I knew that Syd Barrett was supposed to have turned up at the studio during the recording, and that bit of the documentary was a clock-stopping moment, as they one by one discussed not recognising this guy who was hanging around – before showing the shocking photo that was taken on the day. I wasn’t expecting that.

It was a strange feeling, back then, not really having any friends yet (I was in the equivalent of Year 9 and Year 10, I think) and desperately seeking something to love. Probably the loneliness meant that music was far more important to me than it might have been. By the time I was 16, although I had a proper best friend by then, music was everything.

Still is.

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3 thoughts on “Wish You Were Here”

  1. I think “Wish you were here” was one of their best. Some of their earlier stuff is pretty good too. Like Meddle. That’s probably my favorite.

  2. @marcmarrs – Agree WYWH is one of their best – prefer it to Dark Side of the Moon. Thought it was interesting how the band was almost paralysed by the success of DSotM and just seemed to be drifting and aimless until they came up with the tribute to Barrett.

  3. I wouldn’t say I was in the crazy diamond Barrett cult, but there’s a few of his short songs that pop into my consciousness every so often. Bike, See Emily play, Gotta flip top pack a cigarettes (apples and oranges) and ‘She took a long cool look at me’. They are all mainly the short whimsical songs rather than the more psychedelic stuff. It’s strange how these lyrics just ping up without invitation and without me really thinking about Barrett or Floyd.

    I know it is mainly the same people, but I somehow think of Pink Floyd as several bands defined by different eras.

    And your earlier commenter mentions Meddle – the venue played the whole of Meddle’s Echoes before a Decemberists gig I attended in London last year – I guess we all have dark side fatigue.

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