You must know the song “Brain Damage” from the 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon. The song contains one of the most memorable lyrics in rock history: “There’s someone in my head but it’s not me”.
But do you know the story behind this line? Who is the “someone” in the head of the songwriter, Roger Waters? And what does it mean to say that it’s not him?
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The Tragic Fate of Syd Barrett
The answer lies in the tragic fate of Syd Barrett, the original leader and founder of Pink Floyd. Barrett was a brilliant and innovative musician, who wrote most of the songs for their first two albums, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and A Saucerful of Secrets. He was also a heavy user of psychedelic drugs, especially LSD, which affected his mental health and behavior.
Barrett became increasingly erratic and unpredictable, often forgetting the lyrics or chords of his own songs, or playing completely different tunes during live performances. He also suffered from hallucinations, paranoia, and depression. He was eventually forced to leave the band in 1968, after they hired David Gilmour as a replacement guitarist and vocalist.
Profound Impact of Syd Barrett’s departure on Roger Waters
Barrett’s departure had a profound impact on Waters, who considered him a close friend and a musical genius. Waters felt guilty and responsible for Barrett’s breakdown, and wondered if he could have done something to prevent it. He also feared that he might suffer the same fate as Barrett, as he was also experimenting with drugs and facing the pressures of fame and success.
These feelings inspired Waters to write “Brain Damage”, which is a reflection on madness and alienation. The line “There’s someone in my head but it’s not me” expresses the idea that Barrett had lost his identity and sense of self, and that there was another personality or force controlling his mind. It also suggests that Waters felt disconnected from his own thoughts and emotions, and that he was afraid of losing his sanity.
A Tribute to Syd Barrett
The song is a tribute to Barrett, as well as a warning to others who might follow his path. It is one of the most powerful and poignant songs in Pink Floyd’s discography, and a testament to the lasting influence of Syd Barrett on the band and on rock music in general.