I’m also a big fan of the band’s follow-up album, A Saucer Full Of Secrets, but for different reasons. Syd Barrett wrote just one song, Jugland Blues, for that one. But save for Roger Waters’ Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk and the instrumental Interstellar Overdrive, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was mostly attributable to Syd. I like both of those albums more than the ones Pink Floyd made without Syd, as an arena rock band. I guess I was too afraid of crowds.
Even as an adolescent, I remember when The Dark Side Of The Moon came out in 1973. In America, Pink Floyd were really pushed into your face back then. I knew all of its songs even though I didn’t own the record.
For me, the joy of Pink Floyd was going backwards and discovering what they did before. And the important thing about The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was the music’s strange juxtaposition – sometimes whimsical and pastoral, but simultaneously desperate and sad. I don’t think I ever found another record which that type of dichotomy worked so well. With Syd Barrett, it never felt like an invention.
After discovering the album that day in Seattle, I’ve bought it several times. The original pressing had See Emily Play but the American one didn’t. One of the editions had this silhouette photograph of the band’s heads and arms on the sleeve. I ended up painting that onto the back of my motorcycle jacket. The image reminded me so well of how the record made me feel.