Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pink Floyd See Emily Play

See Emily Play
See Emily Play
See Emily Play" is Pink Floyd's second single, this 1967 tune was written by Syd Barrett and was originally titled “Games for May,” after a free concert where the group performed. Recorded on 23 May 1967, it featured "The Scarecrow" as its B-side. Though it was initially released as a non-album single, the song appeared on the Tower edition of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967). Long-time Barrett fan John Peel rated the song highly. "It is one of my favourites from that time,' he said. 'I wish they had written a song about me. Syd was a great talent and at one time I was even going to record an album of his lyrics, but when I heard myself reading them I decided to abort the project."


See Emily Play
See Emily Play
It's said to be about Sculptor Emily Young. While at Holland Park School in 1966, she became a regular at the nearby London Free School night sessions around the Notting Hill area, which brought her into contact with many in the UK Underground. Here, Ms. Young talks about the London Free School, "I used to go there because there were a lot of Beat philosophers and poets around," she says. "There were fundraising concerts with The Pink Floyd Sound, as they were then called. I was more keen on poets than rockers. I was educating myself. I was a seeker. I wanted to meet everyone and take every drug."


See Emily Play
See Emily Play
The details as to the recording remain shrouded in mystery due to the lack of paperwork in the EMI archive. Engineer Jeff Jarrett recalls that "See Emily Play" was recorded in a much longer form which was then edited down for the single release. It was recorded at Sound Techniques studios on 21 May 1967. Barrett did the slide guitar work on this song with a Zippo lighter.


See Emily Play
See Emily Play
There was much trickery involved in the recording with backward tapes, much use of echo and reverb, and the first piano bridge between the first chorus and second verse was recorded at a slow pace then sped up for the final master. The four-track master tape was wiped or misplaced. It no longer exists and has never been mixed into true stereo; it was reprocessed for fake stereo on the 1971 Relics compilation. The US single (Tower 356) was released by Tower Records three times between July 1967 and late 1968. Each time it failed to duplicate its UK success.


See Emily Play
See Emily Play
Barrett, reportedly, was not happy with the final studio cut. He protested against its release, which producer Norman Smith speculated was based on his fear of commercialism. It was during sessions for the song that David Gilmour became a frequent visitor to the studio, and although being invited by Barrett, was shocked by the perceived changes in Barrett's personality when he did not appear to recognize him. For many years Gilmour would recall this, saying, "I don't know at quite at what point Syd started to go very strange, but I know I came back from France and I called Syd up while I was there and he said why don't I come down they were doing a recording session and he told me the studio. And I went down to the studio and he didn't even recognize me, and that was when - the day they were making 'See Emily Play'"


See Emily Play
See Emily Play
Part of the vocal melody was played on a Mini Moog at the very end of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX)" at the end of Wish You Were Here, as a tribute to Barrett. It later appeared on the compilations Relics (1971), Works (1983), Shine On (1992), Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd (2001), The Piper at the Gates of Dawn 40th Anniversary Edition (2007), and on A Foot in the Door – The Best of Pink Floyd (2011). The song was also included on the Barrett retrospective, An Introduction to Syd Barrett (2010). In 2014 it was a Record Store Day product packaged with a Columbia range bag with a 7” 4 panel booklet / poster (i.e. like a 7” booklet with one single piece of paper folded) / backer card.




"See Emily Play"

Emily tries but misunderstands, ah ooh

She often inclined to borrow somebody's dreams till tomorrow
There is no other day
Let's try it another way
You'll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play
Soon after dark Emily cries, ah ooh
Gazing through trees in sorrow hardly a sound till tomorrow
There is no other day
Let's try it another way
You'll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play
Put on a gown that touches the ground, ah ooh
Float on a river forever and ever, Emily
There is no other day
Let's try it another way
You'll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play



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