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Update April 2015: the SBRS forum no longer exists as its hosting
company has suddenly disappeared from the web. This post stays here for
archival purposes only. If you would like to join a Syd Barrett forum,
we gladly suggest the Late
Night Syd Barrett Discussion Room.
Update September 2016: while the Late Night forum still exists it
has hardly any posts and visitors, probably due to the dozens of
Facebook groups that give instant gratification but are, quite frankly,
a mess for the 'serious' Barrett investigator.
The Syd Barrett Research Society forum has been down now since Sunday
the 8th of March. This is not, to deny some rumours, due to SBRS, nor to
the Holy Church of
Iggy the Inuit, but to the (free) hosting company running these
All the forums (more than 10,000 apparently) on their domain (and even
the introduction page) show the following error:
Internal Server Error
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was
unable to complete your request. Please contact the server
administrator, firstname.lastname@example.org and inform them of the time
the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have
caused the error. More information about this error may be available
in the server error log. Additionally, a 500 Internal Server Error
error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the
request. Apache/1.3.41 Server at www.hostingphpbb.com Port 80
SBRS has contacted the server administrator who replied with a very
Hi, We are aware and working on the problem. Apology for the
inconvenience. regards (no signature)
This is what their website usually has to say about their performance…
Since august 2004, we have achieved 99.999% server's uptime. Hosted
by liquidweb - one of the most reliable dedicated server provider - our
servers are guaranteed 100% network uptime and 2 hours of hardware
replacement. Our web network has been designed to accommodate clients
demanding the highest quality network performance. There is a central
focus on redundancy allowing our network to rapidly self-heal failures
without interruptions to connectivity.
For the moment SBRS and the Church are waiting until hostingphpbb gets
back online. But at the same time we are already looking for alternative
solutions if the forums will not reactivate in the next few days.
The best Pink Floyd book I've read in years is of course Mark
Blake's Pigs Might Fly. Don't tell this to his friends and relatives
but I know from a reliable source that he prays at the Holy
Church of Iggy the Inuit from time to time.
The funniest book about the Floyd are the memoirs, not of Nick gentleman
drummer boy Mason, although they are good for a chuckle or two, crusty
apple pie indeed, but those of Guy
Pratt. About a third of My Bass and Other Animals colours
pink as Guy joined the diet Floyd, although diet was not exactly the
right word to describe the intake of Mr. Gilmour at that time, on their A
Momentary Lapse of Reason world tour. Pratt has a very weird kind of
humour and one of his pranks was an attempt to crash the Pink Floyd tour
plane by frantically running up and down the corridor, in mid-flight!
Normal bands have a tour bus; Pink Floyd has a tour plane and the
drummer was flying it. If you don’t want to read the book, you can watch
where Guy tells about his Floydian encounters.
The best, best as in anoraky, Syd Barrett biography is Julian Palacios' Lost
in the Woods, he is a silly bugger if you ask me as he invited the
Church on the SBRS
forum. Around this time a second (more condensed, I’m afraid) version of
his book should finally appear. So far for this commercial break-up.
Speaking about Barretthings, the amount of Syd related books is slowly
overhauling the man’s solo output and recently two new ones (in French)
have made it onto my desk. Written by Jean-Michel
Espitallier, Syd Barrett, le rock et autres trucs, looked the
most promising. It doesn't claim to be a biography but a personal
rendition, part essay, of a French Barrett connoisseur.
In my opinion France and rock go together like Germany and humour, Italy
and efficiency, Belgium and world soccer finales but this one, I hoped,
could be an exception as Mr. Jean-Michel Espitallier is not only is a
devoted Barrett fan, but also the translator of the French edition of
Tim Willis' Madcap biography, a renowned minor poet
Xavier Enderby) and drummer of the French rock band Prexley?
(although that last is not exactly a reference, see above).
The title is a nice pun, un jeu de mots, as it can be interpreted
as rock and other stuff but also as rock and other tricks.
That is why I preferred to start with this tome instead of the other
French Barrett book lying on my desk, called The First Pink Floyd,
already deserving the price for lamest title of the year.
Stuff & tricks
It is 30 November 2004 and Jean-Michel Espitallier is nervously
strolling around St. Margaret’s Square hoping to get a glimpse of the
man who was once known as Syd but now prefers to be called Roger. When
Syd-Roger drives by (in his sister's car) and the vehicle has to stop at
the crossroads - I deliberately use this term here - where Jean-Michel
is sitting on a bench, both men meet in the eye and both pretend, for a
couple of minutes, not to see the other one. This anecdote sets the tone
of the book, marvellously described by the drummer who can't hide his
poetic roots. Strong stuff. Nice trick.
I once remarked at the, now defunct, Astral Piper forum that I couldn’t
understand the romantic feelings some female Barrett fans had for Syd. I
mean, this guy was a slightly disturbed diabetic senior and if I should
have asked them to have a fling with my grandfather they would’ve been
insulted… Espitallier is aware of this dichotomy and compares Syd
Barrett to Peter Pan. Syd was a Cambridge youngster who refused to grow
up and died in the early Seventies when he, like Icarus, reached for the
sky too soon. After all these years, fans were still hoping to find a
glimpse of Syd, although only Roger had survived.
From old aged Roger it goes to old aged rock. Espitallier makes the
point that we have forgotten about the My
Lai massacre but only remember its soundtrack. Good Morning
Vietnam has turned into an infomercialised cd-compilation (I have a Tour
Of Duty TV-Shop-six-pack myself). Television documentaries use The
Mamas and The Papas to comment napalm
warfare. We look at a vintage take of an American soldier who has just
placed a bullet through a women’s head but all we discuss is Suzy Q by
the Creedence Clearwater Revival. Although the above is not
really new, innovative or original, it is good to see it in print from
time to time.
Jean-Michel Espitallier is not always well informed. I can forgive him
that he mistakes the Dutch designer
duo Simon Posthuma and Marijke Koger for a couple of Germans but
when it comes to Syd some facts should better have been checked before
putting it into print. That Mick Rock did not shoot the cover
of The Madcap Laughs is perhaps stuff for anoraks (Mick Rock
himself has more or less hinted he was behind it anyway, a fact that
Storm Thorgerson denies) but the story that, shortly before his death,
Syd Barrett found a guitar from his brother-in-law and started strumming
it can be found in the Mike Watkinson & Pete Anderson Crazy
Diamond biography, that appeared 15 years before Syd Barrett passed
away. And that particular anecdote probably dated already from a few
years before it went into print. There are so many myths about Syd
Barrett that one doesn’t need to create new ones.
It is perhaps understandable, the man is a poet and not a biographer.
His book is about the Barrett phenomenon and not about the historical
Lost in translation
Jean-Michel Espitallier writes : Il y a la musique qui nous rentre
dans le cerveau musical et il y a la musique qui passe directement dans
Espitallier not only has been hit in the stomach by Syd’s music but
received some hits on the head as well, resulting in some serious brain
damage. He heard his first Syd song in 1973 and remembers it as Babe
Lemonade; actually it is Baby Lemonade. And Jean-Michel’s lethargic
song title memories keep on going on. Barrett’s James Joyce adaptation
is baptized Golden Air (not Hair) and Syd’s final Pink Floyd
statement Jugband Blues is changed to Jugband Blue. A couple of
decades ago I started reading a promising French novel but quit after a
dozen pages because the author kept on insisting on a Beatles’ song
called Eleanor Rugby. Things like that make me grind my teeth. It
makes me even wonder if Jean-Michel Espitallier is a real Barrett fan or
a mere fraud trying to cash in, like a few others, on the Barrett
legacy. For Ig’s sake, it just takes a 10 seconds look on a record
sleeve to see if a title has been noted down without mistakes.
The book ends with a list of creative geniuses who stopped being
creative at a certain point in their lives. One of these persons is the
19th century poet Arthur
Rimbaud, who stopped writing at 21 and proclaimed: Merde à la
poésie! I would like to end this review with: Merde au poète!
But let’s have a look at the pros and cons of his Syd-hiking first (bad
pun, I know)…
Pros: instead of the umpteenth biography this book is a personal
journey from the author through music, art and literature, using the
Barrett legend as a guide. Interesting viewpoints about music, fandom,
culture and politics are intertwined with nice wordplays such as ‘Bob
Dylan had a Plan Baez’.
Cons: actually Jean-Michel Espitallier gets more Barrett song
titles wrong than he gets them right. At a certain moment I even thought
he did it on purpose, the man is a poet after all.
I used to have this philosophy teacher who subtracted points from our
exam results if we made spelling mistakes. Although we were angry with
the man in those days I can now see he had a point (our points,
actually). So out of 10, Syd Barrett, le rock et autres trucs gets
an 8 for its content, but I feel obliged to subtract at least 5
points for its many mistakes.
...it is silent in here. Did a poet pass or did someone fart?
Espitallier, Jean-Michel: Syd Barrett, le rock et autres trucs,
Rey, Paris, 2009, 192 pages, 17 €.
Note: This book grew out of an essai radiophonique
Jean-Michel Espitallier gave on radiostation France Culture on 4
November 2007. Called Syd Barrett Quand Même it can be found
on the (interesting) French Floyd fansite Seedfloyd.
Webbrowser version: http://www.seedfloyd.fr/article/syd-barrett-quand-meme.
Direct downloads in MP3 or WMA format can be found on the same page.
In a new Syd Barrett biography
that was recently published in France its author, Emmanuel Le Bret, can
get quite lyrical from time to time. How this reacts, interferes or
enriches the biography is a question that will be further investigated
in our review to be published here in a while (see: Barrett:
first in space!). But the Church can’t of course not
ignore some Iggy statements to be found in a chapter well spend on The
La cinquième chanson est Dark Globe (Sphère Sombre),
un titre inspiré du Seigneur Des Anneaux. C’est l’un des moments les
plus forts de l’album, une chanson où Barrett démontre une fois encore
ses talents d’écriture.
The fifth song is Sphère Sombre (Dark Globe), a title
inspired by Lord Of The Rings. It is one of the strongest moments of the
album, a song where Barrett can once again demonstrate his writing
Then, in fine French tradition, starts an in-depth review of some of the
themes to be found in Dark Globe. What to think of the following:
Il y a une allusion à la drogue (l’opium que l’on fume allongé) et qui
explique le vers suivant: « Ma tête embrassa la surface de la Terre. »
Quant à « La personne enchaînée à une Esquimaude », c’est bien sûr Syd
qui vit épisodiquement avec Iggy, moitié Inuit!
There is an allusion to the drug opium that is smoked lying on the floor
and that explains the following verse: “my head kissed the ground”. “I'm
only a person with Eskimo chain” is of course about his short episode
with Iggy, who was half Inuit!
The opium reference is quite far-fetched and the head down / ground
image symbolism can be found in several Syd songs: I'll lay my head
down and see what I see - Love Song She loves to see me get down to
ground - She Took A Long Cold Look Creep into bed when your head's on
the ground - It Is Obvious.
That the Eskimo Chain verse could refer to Ig is something that the
Church has wondered about before in When
Syd met Iggy... (Pt. 3) , but according to JenS, who knew both Iggy
and Syd in the Sixties this is quite a preposterous idea:
Syd wrote songs and not all of them were about one person or another. It
was his job. His songs were more often a jumble of ideas put together
to serve his purpose. I think it’s risky, even though you like the idea,
to project this as it just leads to further mythologizing. Syd was not
romantically inclined this way. “I'm only a person with Eskimo chain”
refers to the evolutionary chain, not to a specific person. He was on a
very much higher spiritual plane, not so much on the material. I find
this idea quite funny and I just hear Syd roaring with laughter.
But Emmanuel Le Bret mythologizes, to use JenS’ discourse, even a bit
Le célèbre vers « J’ai tatoué mon cerveau », qui fit les gorges chaudes
de journaux à sensation, possède un pouvoir évocateur exceptionnel.
Parmi les nombreux sens qu’on peut lui donner, n’oublions pas que, dans
la tradition shamanique Inuit , il existe une tradition du tatouage
(comme chez les Maoris) qui consiste à se tatouer le crâne en bleu. L’on
peut interpréter ces mots comme l’allusion à un rite initiatique pour
rentrer dans la « famille » d’Iggy.
The famous verse ‘I tattooed my brain all the way’, which was a splendid
headline for the tabloids, has an extraordinary evocative power. Of all
the significances one can find, we may not forget, that in Inuit
shamanic tradition, there is a tattooing tradition (as with the Maori)
to tattoo the skull in blue. One could interpret these words as an
allusion to the ritual initiation to enter Iggy’s ‘family’.
Krutak, an anthropologist who specializes in body adornments, has
written about Inuit tattoos:
Arctic tattoo was a lived symbol of common participation in the cyclical
and subsistence culture of the arctic hunter-gatherer. Tattoo recorded
the “biographies” of personhood, reflecting individual and social
experience through an array of significant relationships that oscillated
between the poles of masculine and feminine, human and animal, sickness
and health, the living and the dead. Arguably, tattoos provided a nexus
between the individual and communally defined forces that shaped Inuit
and Yupiget perceptions of existence… (Taken from: Vanishing
Tattoo. An updated version of the same article can be found at: Lars
Although all the writings of Lars Krutak are very interesting it would
take us to far to dig further into the specifics of tribal tattooing.
Further more, regardless of the fact that ‘Eskimo chain’
may well or not refer to Iggy, who may have acted as a muse for Syd,
rather than the groupie some biographers have made of her, she probably
was not Inuit at all.
And as far as the Reverend can see, with his little piggy eyes, he
cannot distinguish any tattoos on her body.