Roger Waters Says Pink Floyd Considered Syd Barrett An ‘Existential Threat’

It’s widely believed that ‘there is a fine line between genius and insanity.’ Many artists have struggled on this thin line, and Pink Floyd‘s Syd Barrett was one of them. The late musician’s former bandmate Roger Waters addressed Syd’s deteriorating state while chatting with the Joe Rogan Experience podcast and discussed the threats Pink Floyd faced after Barrett’s departure.

By all means, Syd Barrett’s passing was a tragic loss. He was the ‘crazy diamond‘ of Pink Floyd, as his lyrics and musical tone helped the band build a reputation in the rock scene. Waters remembered his bandmate’s life while conversing about Barrett’s mental health and his talents as a musician.

Roger disclosed that the band experienced Syd Barrett’s condition as an ‘existential threat.’ Since Syd was the primary songwriter of Pink Floyd, his bandmates were anxious that the musician would not be able to continue, which would impact their career. Waters expressed that the members were distressed because Syd’s writing was unique and had enabled their success.

The musician remarked that Barrett adopted a romantic tone in his songs, and his lyrics were very eccentric in terms of meter. Roger Waters added that the late singer’s lyrics would attach to the melody and the time frame in a ‘remarkable’ way. Since most of Barrett’s songs were eccentric and unique, Roger revealed that Pink Floyd didn’t know if they could survive without him.

The band knew that if their primary songwriter went ‘mad’ and could not produce any lyrics, it might bring their end. However, luckily, that was around the time when Waters started writing. The musician expressed his happiness with continuing the band’s legacy but then continued in a serious tone and said Barrett’s loss was tragic and expressed his love for him.

Roger Waters on Syd Barrett’s works and the ‘existential threat’ Pink Floyd faced:

“Those of us who were in Pink Floyd at the time experienced it as an ‘existential threat.’ [We were like] ‘What are we gonna do? He writes the bloody songs.’ Well, I wrote about 20 percent of them before, but they were nothing. Syd’s songs were the things that were different.

They had that weird English romanticism about them. They were beautiful. They were so quirky in terms of its meter. The way the lyric attached both to the melody and to the time signature and the tempo of the thing is remarkable. There were lots of quirky little songs, all in a very English romantic tradition.

[We thought] ‘How could we possibly survive if the guy [who] writes the songs and the band goes crazy?’ You’re f*cked basically unless somebody leans to write [and] luckily, I did start to write [laughs]. I don’t mean to laugh because he was a huge loss, and I did love him.”

You can watch the interview below.