Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd
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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Syd Barrett Wolfpack Analysis

Syd Barrett Wolfpack
Syd Barrett Wolfpack
I got such a good response with my analysis of Dominoes that I am going to have another shot with Syd Barrett Wolfpack. With this, it’ll be more of my opinion. OK, here goes.

Wolfpack is about him being on that mental health ward in the hospital. When I lived in Pennsylvania, I lived directly across the street from the hospital and a community park. Every day, the Psych Nurses and workers would take the patients on a walk in the park. See where I am going with this? Syd was the lunatic on the grass. And they, the Nurses and workers, were always getting the group into formation; howling the pack back into formation.

He's in the pack, with the Psych Ward Nurses telling him to "GET BACK IN LINE!" (waving him back in formation). If I am not mistaken, they took the patients to the park to play cricket. "Bowling they bat" is a kind of perverted cricket analogy in my opinion. The loonies are playing cricket in the park; they are "on the grass".

The Last Stanza:

"Howling the pack back into formation, diamonds and clubs, waving us back into formation..."

The cricket game is over and the Psych Ward Nurses and Orderlies are getting everybody back together (in formation) to go back up on the Ward where the only thing to do is play card (Diamonds and Clubs) or dominoes.

Syd Barrett Wolfpack:

Howling the pack in formation appears
Diamonds and clubs, light misted fog, the dead
Waving us back in formation
The pack in formation

Bowling they bat as a group
And the leader is seen so early
The pack on their backs, the fighters
Through misty the waving

The pack in formation
Far reaching waves
On sight, shone right
I lay as if in surround

All enmeshing, hovering
The milder I gaze
All the animals laying trail
Beyond the bough winds

Mild the reflecting electricity eyes
Tears, the life that was ours
Grows sharper and stronger away and beyond
Short wheeling, fresh spring
Gripped with blanched bones, moaned
Magnesium, proverbs and sobs

Howling the pack in formation appears
Diamonds and clubs, light misted fog, the dead
Waving us back in formation
The pack in formation

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Blogger The Revelationship said...

All due respects but I find this analysis quite far off the mark. Like any good analysis one must look at the work in context, not just at the literal myth of the creator. This second album I believe was recorded sometime after Madcap and has a completely different mood and represents an artist of acuity and class. The accompanying musicians totally got it (Jerry Shirley deserves a special mention) and the result is a charming and at times enthralling collection of summery fables ('animal fetish' being a working motif).

Rats in particular is a work of genius, Syd's sardonic commentary on popular culture a reference to his former position as The Piper is one that draws anarchically on the avante-garde and jazz delivered with an obtusity that was somewhat lacking in British punk which was soon to follow. For sure, there's not one dud song on Barrett (not even Maisie), but for inspired brilliance it is difficult to go past Wolfpack - it is simply a man possessed yet fully in control of his facilities. This sounds paradoxical I know, but I'm not one to pay any due to the 'Syd's mad' myth, he was simply a great artist able to transpersonally plum the depths.

The style of Wolfpack' s prose and the aesthetic of the songs gang multi tracked vocal is very evocative of World War 1 English poetry and a conceptual device in rendering the packs as battalions. Similarly a man on the edge, Syd seems to be surveying the nature of organised man in what I believe is a commentary on colonisation due to the reference to games ('diamonds and clubs' being someone archetypal and 'bowling they bat' being somewhat less ambiguous). Many be be aware that this was an ideological tactic of the British in how they conquered foreign lands. Cricket's a somewhat obvious (and very English) example. Beyond the Bow (echo) winds await great bounty (more animals) for the hungry and acquisitive marauders who prey like wolfs. Men all the same, the English always looked to the East as a returning to home of sorts (sun imagery), but as Hesse points out they are often merely seeking and confronted with themselves in the 'other' (all the reflecting electricity eyes tears). The military imagery is obvious in conceptually harnessing the animal spirit of man, a social technology that transformed human civilisation in modern times...

Generally however, the musicianship in this song is just awesome. Huge dynamics, breathing and firing just when it needs to.

Just some thoughts...

September 30, 2017 at 3:53 AM  

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