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Pink Floyd - The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

A lot of people don't like Pink Floyd. I often hear things like "They are too weird for me".

If you don't like music like the Floyd's sound, well then I definitely don't suggest listening to this album, which is their debut album. If you like psychedelic types of music-genres - make this the next album you listen to!

When Pink Floyd started out it was this English fellow called Syd Barrett who was the mastermind behind their music. He has been called various things in his life: brilliant, ill, misunderstood, mad-man, "crazy diamond", erratic, hilarious. Here's an interesting story: this album propelled Pink Floyd into the music-consciousness at the time, because of its totally unique sound, but Syd was kicked out of Pink Floyd afterwards because of alleged increasing erratic behaviour (his family denies this whole Syd being a crazy schizophrenic LSD-fucked-up image that Pink Floyd has created by the way, they say he just started to prefer doing other things like painting and gardening). After Pink Floyd got got famous/legendary, with the brilliant David Gilmour joining the band, Syd started living a life outside of the lime-light, started to become a bit of a recluse. But he still continued making music for a while, see my later review of his debut solo album here.

I had a very big Pink Floyd phase to which my friends would attest, and this was just one of their albums I listened to on repeat while sometimes skipping class and staying in my "hool" (room) in Wilgenhof, the residence I attended in Stellenbosch. Piper at the Gates of Dawn is certainly a strange album, and I get that a lot of people would not like it at all. But I think it's excellent.

What a lot of people don't know is that Syd Barrett was definitely a musical genius, and also possibly an actual genius. Not only did he totally bring a new psychedelic sound to the world, he was also very well read, and I think he knew or thought he knew things most of us would never discover in our lifetimes.

For example, the song Chapter 24 is about the ancient Chinese book, I Ching, aka The Book Of Changes (the oldest of the so-called "Chinese Classics"):

A movement is done in six stages, and the seventh brings return

Sounds familiar? Maybe like the story of Genesis in the Bible? Well, this is something out of the I Ching which is dated to have been written somewhere between the 10th and 4th centuries BC.

This album shifts across a lot of boundaries: ancient wisdom (the previously mentioned Chapter 24), space (Astronomy Domine), the future (Interstellar Overdrive), JRR Tolkien's works (The Gnome), and one of my favourite songs - Bike, a simple song about him wanting to get a girl "into his world". It includes this wonderful lyric:

I know a mouse, and he hasn’t got a house
I don’t know why I call him Gerald
He’s getting rather old, but he’s a good mouse

There's also one other song that is special to me and that is Lucifer Sam, a song about his cat. I love cats and I love their crazy complex little minds. Syd also obviously loved his pets.

[Verse 1]

Lucifer Sam, siam cat
Always sitting by your side
Always by your side

[Hook]

That cat’s something I can’t explain

A truly original album from a truly original person 😀

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