Radio review: The Twilight World of Syd Barrett

An emotional retelling of the Pink Floyd legend's story – with one goose-bumps moment

The Twilight World of Syd Barrett (Radio 4), like any retelling of his story, featured a couple of moments to make you gulp with the sadness of it all. I remember Bob Harris's excellent Wish You Were Here – A History of Pink Floyd (Radio 2, 2002), which explored the magical, childlike qualities of Barrett's early lyrics and contrasted them with his departure from the band, when Richard Wright would tell him he was going out for cigarettes, and sneak off to play a gig.

That anecdote appeared in yesterday's programme, too, but John Harris's version had other emotional peaks. One was Barrett's sister, Rosemary, saying: "I did love him, perhaps too much. That's what I strived for, for him – contentment." You could still hear the effort that had been in her voice. Members of Pink Floyd conceded they hadn't dealt with Barrett's breakdown well ("We dragged him along for longer than we should have done.").

But the goose-bumps moment came when they remembered Barrett dropping into Abbey Road, years after they had last seen him. "He had shaved off all his body hair, including his eyebrows," we heard. "All he did was jump up and sit down again." Quite by chance, it happened to be the day the band was recording their tribute to him, Shine On You Crazy Diamond.

Contributor

Elisabeth Mahoney

The GuardianTramp

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