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Entry date: 6-1-2024 – Happy June – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


Up there in the vast reservoir of nothingness that is a storage facility, there is a million stories…




That seemed like a good beginning.


Yesterday we cleaned out a bunch of stuff from our storage room. We have been renting a space for way too long at what has become a super sketchy place on Glendale and 20th Avenue. It reminded me of when I spent some of my time at the storage room that my friend, Jim, and I had in Berkeley in 1991. When you are homeless, your stuff has to go somewhere if you are going to keep it.


Desperation is palpable when you rent a small space in a building with no air conditioning.




Saw Guitar Wolf last night…it had been over 20 years since I had seen them last, but hot damn do they still put on a good show. Not the acrobatics I remember, but no one needs to see an older Japanese guy bust a hip at the Rebel Lounge.


Glad I went. Always good to see SVT and my friends.






Pink Floyd was a big part of my teenage years. The Wall, for example, took up an awful lot of my time and attention for a while. There is really no other band like them.


Like many people, the first of theirs I really remember is “Money” off of Dark Side of the Moon. That guitar solo is just a full-on ripper, and it is so fun to play air guitar to, as well. I have this memory of there being an air guitar contest during my freshman or sophomore year at Deer Valley and I think I entered the contest but chickened out after watching some of the actual guitar players (good, bad, or otherwise) show it could really be done.


When I discovered there was a lot more to Pink Floyd than The Wall or Dark Side…, I was pretty stoked. After perusing a lot of their earlier material, I found The Piper at the Gates of Dawn from 1967. It quickly became my favorite album of theirs and today, I’ll tell you why.


One thing I realize when I listen to The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is how much influence that one has over a lot of the more psychedelic music that I love, whether it is The Damned and similar punk rock-style stuff or some of the post-punk, noisier stuff like Alien Sex Fiend. The Syd Barrett led Floyd was definitely on a different wavelength than most, if not all, if their late-60s counterparts.


It seems like they also helped give birth to some of the cool European prog bands like Can or their English counterparts, Henry Cow, who I am still getting to know (and love). I may have a lot more homework to do here, but the sounds I hear on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn are not like anything else from that era and when you listen to the Floyd records that came after, it feels like they are missing Syd Barrett a lot.


This was the only record that Barrett was the main songwriter for Pink Floyd. David Gilmour had not yet joined the band but would soon step as Barrett got more and more out there. Now, I happen to love what Syd Barrett did in his short career. As a teenager, I thought he was the most interesting part of Floyd but didn’t realize how limited his time in the band truly was after they started making records.


There was and is a mythos about Syd Barrett. For me, the LSD side of things was intriguing as I was a big fan of that particular drug in the 80s, but I also genuinely like his style of songwriting. It’s very unique. I love the way he just did his thing.


The Piper at the Gates of Dawn has these wonderful moments of tripped out psychedelia including the opening track, “Astronomy Domine.” I was certainly hooked the first time I heard this over at my friend, K.J.’s house. I also happen to love the Voivod cover of it, too. There is a lot going on in there and it’s full of delicious head candy. Shut your eyes, turn it up, and let it take you to space.


“Lucifer Sam” is also a lot of fun. We toyed with covering it in the early days of The Father Figures. I don’t remember us every really getting past fiddling around with the main riff, but it could have been epic. Definitely one of my favorite Floyd songs.


While I’m not a huge fan of “Matilda Mother,” I enjoy “Flaming” and “Pow R. Toc H.” quite a bit. I like the weird spaciness of both of them. I would love to have that ear for creating songs with that much space in them. Listening to this makes me realize how busy my songs can be.


Not that there isn’t a lot going on, but Pink Floyd were masters of everything having its space in the mix. “Take Up Thy Stethoscope” is more my territory. It’s a Roger Waters song, so that might explain it a bit. One thing that this particular song reminds me of is how damn good Nick Mason and Richard Wright are at what they do.


Now, “Interstellar Overdrive” is one of those songs that will rip your brain out under the right circumstances and then feed it back to you in slow, tiny bites. What a great opening riff. Like “Lucifer Sam,” the main riff is so fun to play. It deconstructs itself into a full attack on the synapses, hence ripping your brain out, but with the right speakers or headphones, this one is a blast. Melvins do a pretty good rendition, too.


“The Gnome” is classis Barrett and so Is “Chapter 24.” Trippy, weird, and inventive. Wright kind of rules of “Chapter 24,” too. “Scarecrow” is another jag down the Barrett wormhole and then he pulls out the weirdo pop on “Bike.” I can’t help but grin at this one. Barrett is definitely not for everyone, but that’s okay. I’ll be writing about The Madcap Laughs at some point this year.


Grab some blotter and pop this one on. “Tune in, turn on, drop out,” as Timothy Leary once said.




See you tomorrow.

That left hand is wild.

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