The +quot;Influence of Drugs and Insanity+quot; Paper The Influence of Drugs and Insanity

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The "Influence of Drugs and Insanity" Paper The Influence of Drugs and Insanity on Pink Floyd Perry Friedman Schlapbach Writing for the Sciences March 3, 1987 Pink Floyd was the first true psychedelic rock band to emerge from England. Formed in the late sixties, the band underwent several stages. Under the leadership of Syd Barrett, the band reflected the psychedelic and fairy-tale motifs characteristic of "acid" rock. Indeed, Syd Barrett was a heavy user of LSD, which contributed to his demise as leader of the band. After many years of drug use, Barrett left the band and was institutionalized for a short time. After Barrett's departure, Roger Waters took charge of the band. With Waters in command the band began to change its style. The band's later career was marked with theme albums confronting various societal problems, always with pessimistic undertones. However, even as the band changed style, its music still reflected the influence that Barrett's drug use and resultant insanity had on Waters. Keith (Syd) Barrett (born January 1946), George Roger Waters (born September 6, 1947), Rick Wright (born July 28, 1945), and Nicky Mason (born January 27,1945) comprised the original Pink Floyd. David Gilmour (born March 6, 1947) later replaced Barrett. Barrett, Waters, and Gilmour attended Cambridge High School for Boys together where they began their long-lived friendship. All of them were interested in music from the start and Waters, Mason, and Wright first came together as a band under the name Sigma 6. They later changed their name to The T-Set, The Abdabs, and even The Screaming Abdabs. However real success did not come until Waters brought in Barrett. Barrett named the group after Georgia bluesmen Pink Anderson and Floyd Coucil. He called the group group The Pink Floyd Sound (The Illustratrated Encyclopedia 181). From the beginning the group earned a reputation for impressive shows and great concert effects. Their use of a light show in a 1967 concert was the first ever by a British rock band (The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia 373). In a concert in 1966 they projected moving liquid slides over themselves and their audience. Later they invented a process for creating 360 degree sound and a device known as the Azimuth, "a sort of joy-stick device for projecting sound around a hall" (The Illustrated Encyclopedia 182). On May 15, 1970 they "did a two-and-a-half-hour star-billing set at a Crystal Palace Garden Party complete with fireworks and a 50-foot inflatable octopus which rose from the lake ... Unfortunately, the volume of the speakers killed the fish in the lake" (The Illustrated Encyclopedia 183). Indeed they continued to present more impressive special effects each tour, culminating with the mammoth productions on The Wall tour. Syd Barrett was the leading force behind the band for its first few years. Barrett possessed a unique style which influenced Floyd for years to come. Richard Cromelin wrote in biographical notes for Capitol/Harvest Records, the rather wiggy Barrett had developed into the creator of a style as strong and distinctive as anything that was being turned out by his fellow British rockers... he combined equal portions of English psychedelic fairy-tale rock, electric free-form amorphous rock and his own mad-gleam-in-the-eye humor to come up with a product whose point of origin could as easily be the bowels of an insane asylum as a recording studio. Barrett vintage Pink Floyd is unavoidably insane, swimming in that glorious ecstatic madness that is undeniably, disturbingly real. (qtd. in Encyclopedia of Pop 400) Indeed, while Syd Barrett was still in the band he had almost exclusive creative control. In 1967 Pink Floyd released their first single, a Syd Barrett composition "Arnold Lane" which "concerned a pervert-transvestite who stole ladies underwear from washing lines" (The Illustrated Encyclopedia 182). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock claims that "Barrett was very much the leader of the group at this point. His lead guitar sound was distinctive; and he wrote almost all their material" (182). In fact, 10 of the 11 songs on their first album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (1967), were by Barrett, as was the drawing on the back sleeve (The Illustrated Encyclopedia 182). As much as Barrett influenced Pink Floyd, Barrett himself was influenced by drugs. Most of these early songs reflected Barrett's altered states. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock says that, "while [the] rest of the band had always been more into booze than drugs, Barrett was deeply involved in the psychedelic side of the Underground, taking large amounts of LSD and drawing the inspiration for much of his playing and writing from it" (182). Jeff Wards, in a review of A Nice Pair in Melody Maker, wrote, Syd was absolutely unique, arising... like some psychedelic Virgina Woolf, words flying in one and several directions at once, stream of conciousness style. The words on "Bike" are such beautiful gibberish that it's almost as though Syd's talking in tounges... And the lines are muttered deadpan in a ludicrous short space of time... "Chapter 24," "Gnome" and "Scarecrow" reflect the old Flower-Power preoccupations with mysticism, fairy stories and things pastoral, all filtered through the Barrett conciousness. (34) Barrett's mental state gradually diminshed and his behavior became eratic. On some gigs he would "only stand and stare at the audience while strumming the same chord all evening" (The Illustrated Encyclopedia 182). On April 6, 1968 Barrett left the band and David Gilmour replaced him in the band. All the stories of his breakdown "added up to the same thing: Syd was becoming an acid casualty" (The Illustrated Encyclopedia 182). Barrett was briefly hospitalized and later released several albums, one appropriately entitled The Madcap Laughs. Pink Floyd's first album after the departure of Syd Barrett still focused on the same type of psychedelic, fairy-tale music; Ummagumma, released in1969, contains such songs as "Careful With That Ax, Eugene," "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun," and "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving With a Pict." In the latter, "a weird, angry unintelligible Scottish brogue ends the cut" (Heineman 20). By this time, however, Roger Waters had already begun to exert his influence on the band. Ummagumma is a double album, with two live sides and two studio sides. On the studio album "each member had half a side to experiment with as they wished, Wright, Gilmour and Mason all writing single varying self-indulgent pieces, divided into numbered parts, and only Waters providing several individual tracks" (The Illustrated Encyclopedia 182). In 1970 Floyd released their next album, Atom Heart Mother , which represented a slight transition for the band. While the band still possessed the eccentricity and lunacy characteristic of Barrett-era Floyd, the band had "made the big switch from outer to inner space" (DiMartino, "Pink Floyd Before the Wall" 22) The album featured a cow on the cover and songs with such humorous titles as "Breast Milky" and "Funky Dung." "Allan's Psychedelic Breakfast" represented a link to the past fascination with drugs and lysergia. However, this album represented a beginning in the band's investigation of the inner psyche and anticipated many of the theme albums (Di Martino, "Pink Floyd Before the Wall" 22). In 1973 Floyd released the first of their theme albums, Dark Side of the Moon. The album came into such great popularity that it still remains in Billboard magazine's "Top 200", a weekly listing based on number of albums sold (Contemporary Litererary Criticism 35: 305). The album explores such themes as death, stress and insanity. Dave DiMartino, recounting several of Floyd's earlier albums in his article "Pink Floyd Up Against the Wall: Come in Roger Waters", summed up the theme as "life sucks and will make you crazy" (22-23). This album, more than any other post-Barrett album except Wish You Were Here, displays the influence of Syd Barrett and his battle with insanity. The album also represents Roger Waters' clear emergence as leader of the band, with his composition of six of the ten songs. The album also completed the change in the band that had begun with Atom Heart Mother. John Piccarella, summing up the career of Floyd after the release of The Final Cut, wrote that Pink Floyd's early "funeral tone poems were meant to be heard stoned, and they were meant to scare the shit out of you... On the Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd made the '70s move from drugs to high tech" (59). Indeed, on this album we see a departure from the fairy-tale imagery anmd psychedelia, long a part of Pink Floyd. Dark Side of the Moon is a cynical commentary on contemporary society. The album relates the pressures and the fleetingness of human life, as well as the result of these, insanity. Here is where we can see the plight of Syd Barrett emerge. Roy Hollingworth, in a review of Dark Side of the Moon in Melody Maker, wrote, "one song in particular ["Brain Damage"] was extremely Syd-barrettsian to the point of being a straight lift from any of the Lost Hero's songs. Yes Sydbarretsian... Barrett still exists, you know, and it was pleasing that the best track on this album is 80 per cent plus influenced by him" (54). And as much as the style of the music came from Barrett, the lyrics were about Barrett. "Brain Damage" is merely a romp around the inside of the head of a lunatic. The lines "if the band your in starts playing different tunes / I'll see you on the dark side of the moon" reflect the feelings of the isolated and lost Barrett. As did Barrett-vintage Floyd, "Eclipse" brings home a twisted irony with "Everything under the sun is in tune / But the sun is eclipsed by the moon" (Malamut 81). In addition to the Barrett-like themes, "Time" and "Breathe in the Air" present a cynical view of the shortness of life. "Breathe" urges everyone to live life to its fullest until "You race toward an early grave." "Time" tells us "The sun is the same in relative way, but you're older / Shorter of breath and one day closer to death." (Malamut 80) On the other hand "Money" and "Us and Them" present the problem of greed. "Money" contains simple overstatements to make a point. The album urges us to "Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash" and "Share it fairly but don't take a slice of my pie". The problems associated with this greed are presented in "Us and Them." The lines, "Forward he cried from the rear / and the front rank died," "Down and Out / It can't be helped but there's a lot of it about / With, without / And who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about," and "For want of the price of tea and a slice / The old man died" tell of the depravity that greed (for money and power) leads to. In 1975 Floyd released their next album Wish You Were Here, a tribute to Syd Barrett. This album deals with "the machinery of a music industry that made and helped break Syd Barrett" (Edmonds 64). It is rumored that Barrett himself showed up at the recording studio uninvited and unexpected during the mixing of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and announced they he was "ready to do his bit" (The Illustrated Encyclopedia 21). The first (and last) song on the album is "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" which was dedicated to Syd Barrett, the "Crazy Diamond." Michael Davis, in review of the album wrote " the two-part 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond,' which opens and closes the album, is a plea from the band left alone, plagued by a frightening retention of sanity, for the man 'caught in the cross-fire of childhood and stardom'" (64). "Have a Cigar" is a direct blow at the music industry and its greed. An industry representative tells the band "Well I've always had a deep respect and I mean that most sincerely / The band is just fantastic, that is really what I think. Oh and by the way which one's Pink?", revealing the hypocrisy of the music industry. The primary concern of the industry is money, and "the band" is just a tool for getting more. This is made most clearly when the representatives exclaim, "we're so happy we can hardly count" (Davis 64). "Welcome To The Machine" is an even deeper criticism of the music industry "machinery." According to Michael Davis, the song is a nightmare come true for the Floyd who have just realized that success merely redefines flunky status on a higher plane. For most, the mansions and all are sufficient rewards but for a band who... have never really considered themselves pop stars, and who have never lived for cars and girls, the situation must be incredibly galling. (64) The album as a whole leaves one with a feeling that the band, while inherently a part of this machinery is none too happy over their situation and are still deeply marked with remorse over the loss of Syd Barrett. This album was followed by the release of Animals 1977. This album picked up were Wish You Were Here left off, offering more of Roger Waters' cynical musings and social criticism. In this album, "the human race is broken down into castes of pigs, dogs, and sheep to underscore negative human qualities" (Contemporary Literary Criticism 35: 305) "Dogs" are the agressive people. This song tells them that "You have to be trusted by the people that you lie to. / So that when they turn their backs on you, / You'll get the chance to put the knife in." It also cautions that "You gotta keep one eye looking over your shoulder." It sums up their life by saying, "Deaf, dumb and blind, you just keep on pretending / That everyone's expendable and no one has a real friend." Less interesting are the "Pigs," the fat, greedy slobs who represent the music industry. The "Sheep" are the innocent ones who are fooled into being slaughtered and hung "on hooks in high places" and made into "lamb cutlets." This is only until "through quiet reflection, and great dedication" they "master the art of karate" and confidently rejoice "the dogs are dead!" However, the dogs and sheep still need to seek "a shelter from pigs on the wing." Again we see a harsh criticism of the greed (of the rock industry) and the pressures of society which caused Barrett ot resort to drugs and at least indirectly caused his insanity. While Wish You Were Here and Animals "offered Waters's pessimistic versions of rockbiz inhumanity and Orwellian paranoia" (Piccarella 59), they were merely an a small taste of what was to come. The final two albums by Pink Floyd, The Wall and The Final Cut are two of the most cynical and pessimistic albums ever composed. These two albums were almost entirely written by Roger Waters and were greatly influenced by his feelings over the loss of his father in World War II. The Wall represented a final departure from the Floyd of the past. In a review of the album in High Fidelity, the band is described as having "gone from being the premier art-rock psychedelic band to literally cornering the mass market on full-blown paranoia" (30: 103). The main theme of the album is the breakdown and insanity of a rock star a la Syd Barrett. The wall represents a barrier which the individual creates around himself to protect himself from an insane world. The album warns of the dangers of "skating on the thin ice of modern life" and warns "teachers leave the kids alone." ("The Wall," High Fidelity 103) Society, represented by sadistic schoolmasters, smothering mothers, insistent fans, and faithless spouses, forces the individual into isolation and insanity, with each of the afforementioned groups forming "just another brick in the wall" (Cocks 49) The main character gradually gives in to his feelings and his insanity becomes complete. On "One of My Turns", "the deranged rock-star narrator, his shattered synapses misfiring like wet firecrackers, screams at his groupie companion: 'Would you like to learn to fly? / Would you like to see me try?'" (Loder, "Pink Floyd: Up Against 'The Wall'" 76) In the next song, the shattered rock star "begs his girlfriend not to go, "When you know how I need you, To beat to a pulp on a Saturday night.'" ("The Wall," High Fidelity 103). Even the format of the album conveys a message. The album is "fashioned as a kind of circular maze (the last words on side four begin a sentence on side one), The Wall offers no exit except madness from a world malevolently bent on crippling its citizens at every level of endeavor" (Loder, "Pink Floyd: Up Against 'The Wall'" 76). The album also contains a deranged reference to Syd Barrett and his insanity in backward masking on "Empty Spaces", saying "Congratulations. You have found the secret. Send answers to Old Pink care of The Funny Farm." While the album represents a departure from the drug-centered music of the past, many fans still tend to focus on what remnants of the past remain. Tom Mardin, a New York City disc-jocking at WNEW-FM said,"The Floyd are not as spacy as they used to be. They're doing art for art's sake, and you don't have to be high to get it. They'll take you on a trip anyway" (qtd. in Cocks 49). However, for those who look hard enough, drugs still are present in the theme. David DiMartino, in his review of a concert performance of The Wall in Creem magazine mentioned that what the album was supposed to convey and what the crowd thought it meant were to different things. He said, The Wall and what Roger Waters meant by it isn't the same Wall the audience has come to see, hear, and take drugs while watching... "I've got a silver spoon on a chain," and "There's one smoking a joint " bring the biggest cheers of all, and Roger Waters' message, as the crowd at the Nassua Colliseum interprets it, is TAKE LOTS OF DRUGS, KIDS, BECAUSE EVERYTHING SUCKS OUT THERE ANYWAY. (12: 29,60) Thus, at least from the perspective of the audience, Floyd condones the use of drugs as an escape from the horrors of society, just as they condemned society in Wish You Were Here for forcing Syd Barrett into drug use and insanity. While musically and thematically The Wall represents a departure from the Floyd of old, the concert tour, with its monumental special effects, represents a return to the past. Variety magazine described the show scale of the show as "monumental" and said that the animation brought the "cover 'creatures'" to life in "stunning fashion" ("The Wall," Variety 72) Jay Cocks, in his review of another concert performance of The Wall in Time magazine, describes the show as an extravagantly literal representation of the album, including a smoking bomber with an 18-ft. wingspan that buzzes the audience on a guy wire and huge floats representing the song's malor characters, among them a 30-ft. mom who inflates to appropriately daunting proportions... [and] a wall, soaring 30 ft. above the stage, spanning 210 ft. at the top. (49) These effects are reminiscent of the 50 foot inflatabe octupus of almost two decades earlier. Pink Floyd culminated their career with the release of The Final Cut in 1983. By this time Pink Floyd had merely become a pseudonym for Roger Waters (Loder, "Pink Floyd's Artistic Epiphany" 65). Waters took total creative of control of the album, dedicating to his father, Eric Fletcher Waters, who died in World War II. While the loss of his father is central to the theme of the album, he has much harsh criticism of contemporary English socitey, "What have we done, Maggy what have we done / What have we done to England." Indeed, he questions whether his father's death was in vain and wonders "What happened to the post war dream" (Loder, "Pink Floyd's Artistric Epiphany" 66). The album represents some of Waters' most depressing lyrics ever. In the title track, "Waters, or his rock star persona, reveals his deepest fears and doubts, including a failed suicide attempt" (Piccarella 59). The song begins with the depressing, almost tear-jerking lines, "Through the fish eyed lens of tear stained eyes / I can barely define the shape of this moment in time / And far from flying high in clear blue skies / I'm spiraling down to the whole in the ground where I hide." The rest of the song offers no escape for the main character, fearing that if he reveals his feelings to his wife he will be rejected and abandoned. Even his attempted escape by suicide fails because he "never had the nerve to make the final cut." In "The Fletcher Memorial Home", Waters launches his attack at various world leaders from Margaret Thatcher to Reagan to Brezhnev, criticizing their imperialism, calling them "colonial wasters of life and limb" (Loder, "Pink Floyd's Artistic Epiphany 66). Several songs on the album criticize competition with the "wily Japanese," and the Falkland Islands conflict serves as an example to express his concerns over imperialism and warfare. The unifying theme, however, is "the post war dream" which he feels has been lost. Kurt Loder sums up this feeling: In "The Gunner's Dream," a dying airman hopes to the end that his death will be in the service of "the post war dream," for which the album stands a requiem- the hope for a society that offers "a place to stay / enough to eat," where "no one ever disappears... and maniacs don't blow holes in bandsmen by remote control." But Waters, looking around him more than thirty-five years after the war's end, can only ask: "Is it for this that daddy died?" (66) Waters' tells us that the "[gunner's] dream is driving me insane." This shows his utter loss of hope for the dream. This feeling of loss and hopelessness pervades the entire album, culminating in "the holocaust" of a nuclear war in "Setting Suns." The second to last song on the album is "Not Now John." It is the only rousing, upbeat song on the album and John Picarella, in his review of the album in The Village Voice claims that "it is ironic that between the failed suicide and the certain nuclear holocaust, Pink Floyd's farewell album finds its most rousing moment in a fake labor song. Maybe we'd all have been made happier if they'd been men at work, proudly turning out pop product once a year" (59). This song represents a return to the past as well, completing a rather bizarre circuit in their career. Kurt Loder compares the song to the "I'm all right, Jack" feeling of "Money" and describes the chorus as "a Sixties style soul-chick chorus." The song, as upbeat as it may seem, revolves around the pessimistic chorus of "Fuck all that!", drawing us further into isolation and the "comfortably numb" condition of The Wall. Again, this album focuses on society's pressures and problems and the utter hopelessness of the human plight which they had previously blamed for the drug abuse and resultant insanity of Syd Barrett. However, as is also true of The Wall, they have broadened their criticism to include further elements of society than just the music industry. In this album, more than any other, the band seems less worried about their own plight and more concerned with that of society as a whole. Looking back at the career of Pink Floyd, one sees a cyclical return to the past. The band progressed from their early psychedelia to the social and political criticisms of their theme albums. However, throughout their career, the band could not seem to shake the influence of Syd Barrett. The loss of Barrett greatly influenced the band's work, both overtly in albums such as Wish You Were Here and subtly in the themes of albums such as The Wall. Works Cited Cocks, Jay. "Pinkies on the Wing." Time 115 (1980): 49. Davis, Michael. "Elegy for the Living." Creem 8 (1975): 64. DiMartino, Dave. "Pink Floyd Before the Wall: Come in Roger Waters." Creem 11 (1980): 22-23. ---. "Pink Floyd's Wall: Live and All Pink on the Inside." Creem 12 (1980): 26+. Edmonds, Ben. "The Trippers Trapped: Pink Floyd in a Hum Bag." Rolling Stone 6 Nov. 1975: 63-64. Heineman, Alna. "Ummagumma." down beat 28 May 1970: 20. Hollingworth, Roy. "The Dark Side of Floyd." Melody Maker 10 Mar. 1973: 19+. Loder, Kurt. "Pink Floyd's Artistic Epiphany." Rolling Stone Magazine 14 Apr. 1983: 65-66. Logan, Nick and Bob Woffinden, comp. "Pink Floyd." The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock . New York: Harmony Books, 1979. Malamut, Bruce. "Dark Side of the Moon." Crawdaddy June 1973: 80-81. Markowski, Daniel G., ed. "Pink Floyd." Contemporary Literary Criticism 35 (1985): 304-305. Piccarella, John. "The Last Labor of Pink Floyd." The Village Voice 28 (1983): 59. "Pink Floyd." The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll. New York: Rolling Stone Press/Summit Books, 1983. Stambler, Irwin. "Pink Floyd." Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock and Soul. New York: St. Martins Press, 1974. "The Wall." High Fidelity 30 (1980): 103-104. "The Wall." Variety 20 Jan. 1980: 72. Wards, Jeff. "Allman Joy! 'A Nice Pair'." Melody Maker 29 Dec. 1973: 34.


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