Monday, December 22, 2008

"Rats, Rats, Lay Down Flat" - Tribute to Syd Barrett

Followers of this blog know I occasionally give in to a post-adolescent nostalgia for what's euphemistically called "classic rock" (meaning it was made long before the biggest music-buying demographic were born). Some might assume I'm revisiting my teenage tastes, but for the most part I'm not; I'm discovering some of it for the first time, thanks to my music-afficionado husband, AND to my 4-year-old son.

A few months ago my son (at the tender age of 3 -- what he now refers to as "the old days") was given to periodically shouting, "rats! rats! lay down flat! we want to know why you act like that!" After witnessing this behavior a few times I learned from my husband that this is a line from a Syd Barrett song called "Rats," off the 1970 album simply titled "Barrett." This became one of my son's favorite songs (along with "Bungle in the Jungle"). I don't know if he ever shocked his teachers and classmates with this line, because if so, they never told me about it.

Who knows what it means? I sure don't. Syd Barrett was a strange dude. He was a founding member of Pink Floyd, but left the band early, an "acid casualty," as my husband calls him. The song "Shine On, You Crazy Diamond" was reportedly about him. (That's from my favorite Pink Floyd album, "Wish You Were Here.") Rumor has it that the members of the band hadn't heard from Barrett in years, but when they went into the studio to record this song, he appeared out of the blue. Maybe they conjured him up, like a genie.

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