In some ways, the 1968 departure of beloved former band leader Syd Barrett followed Pink Floyd for much of the decade that followed — even if it was only through fan perception. Certainly, their 1975 song cycle Wish You Were Here was sparked, in part, by Barrett’s descent into drug-fueled madness.
But Nick Mason, the lone member of the group to appear in every different lineup, says he shies away from attaching that sense of personal loss onto other pieces of Pink Floyd’s legacy. For instance, he doesn’t believe that Roger Waters’ “Brain Damage,” one of the closing tracks from 1973′ Dark Side of the Moon had anything to do with Barrett at all, despite popular sentiment.
“I don’t see Roger writing about Syd so much as perhaps writing about himself,” Mason says, in a talk from Eagle Rock’s newly expanded The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story film. “I think he draws more from within than from outside. I don’t feel as if it was designed around Syd at all, because of the fact that Dark Side was a much more general album — written about an idea, rather than about specific individuals.”
Barrett, who fronted Pink Floyd through its initial singles and 1967 debut album, was out of the group a year later. Other than a pair of disjointed solo efforts, both stitched together with help from Barrett’s bandmates, he lived in seclusion — only contacting the band once again, during the sessions for Wish You Were Here — until his death in 2006.