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Guest Post: Easy Tom on Syd Barrett

syd barret octopus Guest Post: Easy Tom on Syd Barrett

‘The Night A Compact Disc Changed My Life-Chapter 1′

Octopus: The best of Syd Barett

Easy Tom says:

The year is 1995 gangster rap has reached its zenith, kurt cobain is dead, and green day have just released their first hit single. What’s going on in the indie/underground scene at the time? Fugazi, Blonde Redhead, Unwound, Sebadoh and Pavement were to my teenageĀ  recollection the only bands that made it to my ears by way of hanging out with friends and listening to records and seeing shows. Ofcourse, like always the underground scene is vibrant you just have to dig deep and i was not given my shovel yet. I was only looking at the surface, and was hearing music that had sprouted from the ground.
I remember from most of my youth this book that i always used to break into my brother’s room to flip through, it was a glossy pictorial history of the band “Pink Floyd”. From their beginings through the seventies all the way to the departure of their 2nd leader Roger Waters.Anyways it is impossible to have grown up in the 80′s and not to be familiar with classic rock radio and the over saturation of the commercial arena sized “pink floyd”. Yet, my eyes were magnetically drawn to the first three chapters of the book and their enigmatic leader and founder Syd Barret. My ears were still not curious enough to search for his contributions to music.
As the son of immigrants i was already an outcast most of my life on the playground and at school. Weird last name and pale skin. Kids called me “commie vein face”. This book and this mysterious leader were somehow my guide to salvation in this world, a key to finding my own identity. I didn’t know this yet, it was just a book i flipped through at times of boredom. I was just a lost teenage skateboarder still forming my own identity. I went through my Dead Kennedy’s phase and my underground hip hop phase unphased, this music still did not touch me in that way that changes you forever.
Well, one day after skating around and doing kickflips i went with my mother to the local mini-mall to pick up some dry cleaning. I snuck into the musicplus just for fun. While doing a quick scan of the rows of cd’s ,a face popped up from among the -B- section of artists. It was the iconic Syd Barret and his lsd gaze with a background of tie dye design and kind of a curish lullaby scribbling it said “octopus” on the bottom and Syd Barret on the top. I didn’t think twice, i grabbed it just as my mom came in looking for me and said, ” I need this, please!”
Once home and in my room sans television, my only luxury was the passed down stereo system, i put on the cd and on comes the opening number:

Trip to heave and ho, up down, to and fro’
you have no word
trip, trip to a dream dragon
hide your wings in a ghost tower
sails cackling at every plate we break
cracked by scattered needles
the little minute gong
coughs and clears his throat
madam you see before you stand
hey ho, never be still
the old original favorite grand
grasshoppers green Herbarian band
and the tune they play is “In Us Confide”
so trip to heave and ho, up down, to and fro’
you have no word
Please leave us here
close our eyes to the octopus ride!
Isn’t it good to be lost in the wood
isn’t it bad so quiet there, in the wood
meant even less to me than I thought
with a honey plough of yellow prickly seeds
clover honey pots and mystic shining feed…
well, the madcap laughed at the man on the border
hey ho, huff the Talbot
“Cheat” he cried shouting kangaroo
it’s true in their tree they cried
Please leave us here
close our eyes to the octopus ride!
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This was the track that began my ride into a creative life of self discovery. My life would never be the same, i had put on a record from the past that had survived though the decades to make it to cd and what i was hearing was urgently now and meant for me. It sounded like the future to me, not like some retro austin powers take at 60′s psych. Here was the true godfather/creator of the psychedelic songwriter family tree. I listened to every song, hearing a soundtrack to my life. It spoke to me and aimlessness, my alienation, and my existential soul searching. This was the compact disc that changed my life, every song tattooed my brain and set me out on my journey of discovering like minded artists who were influenced by syd and making friends with people that loved syd as well. This was my shovel to dig in to the underground and my trip through musical realm of hades and the psychedelic underground.
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