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May 11, 2014 | by  | in Arts Online Only |
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Have you got it yet?

It was our fourth day in a row in the studio. That album and that song in particular was taking a lot of time. They had installed new mixing console. We had a satisfactory take of the song the night before but that morning we all could pick up excessive bleed from other instruments that affected the drum base. So, we had to record it all over again. I secretly wished the recording to be over early not because I was tired but it was one of the longest songs, I had ever worked on. That day we were supposed to record the vocals.

While I was busy with the keys, I couldn’t help but notice a heavy set, bald guy sitting at the desk behind the glass pane in the studio. I glanced at him. There was something very off about him, I could feel it. He dint have any eyebrows either. But who was I to judge, I was completely smashed from the night before. The bald guy seemed out of it too. I looked at the rest of them. Dave and roger were sorting their creative differences, I agreed with Dave, the intro was a bit too long but being the least experienced and the most educated guy I thought it was wise to be quiet and regardless my head was killing me. Nick on the other hand was smoking a cigarette, he probably was still high. I started to practice my part.

Half way through the recording Dave noticed the bald man. He asked Roger “roger, who is the guy sitting on the desk”. Roger replied “I don’t know, I assumed he was your friend”, “maybe he is from EMI”. They both tried to concentrate on recording, I stopped eves dropping too. After almost an hour I heard a sound I couldn’t figure what made that sound. I closed my eyes even more intently to listen to locate the origin of the sound. It was like a husky dog was trapped under its own sleigh and was out of breath. I opened my eyes and turned my head towards roger only to find the source of the sound. It was Dave. He was crying. In all the years I knew him, I never once saw him cry. Nick came to the rescue too. I asked Roger what happened. He just looked behind the semi-opaque glass with moist eyes and then turned his head towards me and said “Syd is here”.

The last time I saw him was more than two years before that day, in rehab, and it had been seven years since he had been asked to stop to contribute and official statement was released. The first day I saw him was my first day with the band and till years that we played together he was an inspiration for me and the closest I was to, in the band. It possibly can be because of both of our love for jazz that was buried under the façade of rock n roll. I looked up to him in ways more than he ever appreciated. He was never in a state to appreciate anything, not for the time I knew him. He had a mild case of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, some even diagnosed him with Asperger’s and autism, but he abused all sorts of drugs, especially LSD beyond his capable limits. He got physically violent with his girlfriend, locking her up and hitting her with instruments on the head. Even on stage, he had been behaving erratically even by his standards. That’s when we had to call in Dave.

But that was seven years ago, when Syd was the handsomest of us all. I was particularly jealous of his multi coloured psychedelic shirts. But now when I looked at him looking at me just staring blankly, I dint know how to approach him. Dave, Roger and Nick composed themselves and started recording. I, for once, dint do as Roger did. I stood up and went towards the bench. He was jumping up and down with a white coloured toothbrush fixed in the air, close in front of his face. While approaching him I went misty eyed. I asked him what he was doing. He said “isn’t it clear, I am brushing my teeth”. I couldn’t control myself. I snorted like a sea lion, a bit of mucous came out. I wiped my tears and went in for a hug. He just stood there like a tree trunk not moving, not responding. He was bigger then. He just, for some incredible reason, picked the very day that we were doing a song which was about him, and we hadn’t seen him in a really long time. That is what was so incredibly weird about that guy and a bit disturbing, as well, I mean, particularly when you see a guy, that you don’t, you couldn’t recognize him. Then, for him to pick the very day we were to start putting vocals on, which is a song about him. Very strange.

Venetta, one of the background vocal artists, realised, after I hugged Syd, who he was. She asked him how he managed to gain so much weight. He said “I have a huge refrigerator in my kitchen and I help myself to a lot of pork chops”. She gave a courtesy laugh. I smiled while looking into the abyss that used to carry a legend in his eyes. I had to leave to record. I asked him if he is staying longer. He dint say a word or moved, not that I was expecting. I looked at him and started with a dense G minor on my synthesizer pad.

We were all pleased when, for what seemed like ages but was twelve and a half minutes, we were done with the song. Everybody, especially me, looked up at Sid with an anticipation that only toddlers have when they show a drawing to their parents, made by them in school when teacher asked them to draw ‘my family’. Syd said absolutely nothing. Actually he was smelling his armpits and licking something suspicious. Roger looked at me. He wanted to confirm if I told Syd how much that song meant to us. I nodded. He mustered the courage to ask Syd expecting the worse reaction possible, which could be anything from spitting on us, to pulling his pants down. I want to believe even though he had his differences with Syd, Roger knew him the best. “how did you like the song Syd” asked Roger. “yeah…. I don’t like it” said Syd. He stood up and left.

That was the last time any of us saw Syd. The next time we saw him was 31 years later, at his funeral. He looked calm. They say he had severe diabetes and he died of pancreatic cancer. We saw his paintings. Just like his music, his paintings were beautiful. There were hundreds of them. He dint go broke as junked up musicians usually do. He was regularly paid royalties. David made sure EMI paid him a monthly salary of £6000. He had a beautiful garden. Rosemary, his sister said Syd tended to that garden himself, it was passion just like painting and music. Rose came up to me and said “Roger” that was his real name “Roger left something for you”. She went inside came back in a couple of minutes with a huge bag which very obviously contained a painting. I took the painting out. It was huge multi coloured diamond with all shades of all colours possible, with every cut with different colour. At the bottom it said ‘To Richard Wright, Shine on you crazy diamond’.

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Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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