I know all too well what it feels like not to be able to find the words to express something that feels so important. I do find it most humbling to come across great writers or poets who seem able to put into words the things that I cannot. I am frequently moved to tears by great writing – and for me Grahame absolutely hits the spot with the ‘Pipers at the Gates of Dawn’ chapter. It always surprises me when critics don’t get it!
As for Bike, the last song on the album it is in a way the definite sign of Peter Pan Syndrome. It is also quite a beautiful love song about a guy prepared to do more or less anything for the girl he has a crush on. The bells at the end followed by an insane laughter is in so many ways the perfect way to end an album such as this. And even though there is A Saucerful of Secrets to consider in between I still want to believe that the laughter at the end is the madcap that was to become Syd’s sarcastic persona on his début album.
Now. In connection with The Piper at the Gates of Dawn there were three singles released that never made it onto the album. Arnold Layne, See Emily Play (which would become the bands first and only hit until the danceable Another Brick in the Wall pt. 2) and Apples and Oranges. For the sake of keeping this from getting too long I will focus mainly on Arnold Layne since it had a rather significant and radical effect on me and my personality.
For all who know the tragic story of Syd Barrett's meteoric rise and fall in the world of art rock, it's generally agreed that, between the first psychedelic strains of "Arnold Layne" and the mumbled torture of "Late Night", his creative zenith was The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. Recorded in the run-up to the Summer Of Love in a studio next to the one where the Beatles were putting the finishing touches to Sgt Pepper, this album remains a pinnacle of English psychedelic music. It's filled with the child-poet musings of a mind not yet oppressed, but free to wander between fairy tales and cosmic explorations and still be home in time for tea.
Thank you for your comment. I am very happy to hear that others find the passage as affecting as do I. The ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ chapter had a great effect on me when I first heard it on the radio many years ago, and I was very glad to discover – on going back to it in adulthood – that it still weaves the same magic.