Famous author Rob Chapman who wrote the perfect (and most informative) Syd Barrett autobiography A Very Irregular Head: The Life of Syd Barrett pens a new book titled Unsung: Unsaid: Syd and Nick in Absentia. It tells a partially fictional tale of what if Syd Barrett and Nick Drake had a series of encounters in the mid seventies? It also delves into each mens life and their troubled psyches. It will no doubt be an interesting read! Read the official synopsis below and find the link to pre-order, available January 1st, 2024.
In the summer of 1974 Nick Drake and Syd Barrett made their final ill-fated ventures into a recording studio. There has never been any evidence that they ever met or that their paths crossed in any meaningful way. Until now.
In a parallel fictional universe it turns out that they did indeed have a series of encounters that year, firstly in the café snack bar in Kensington Market and subsequently in other central London locations. These meetings, tentative and fragmentary, yet full of shared understanding reveal much about the inner life of each man during that troubled late stage of their respective careers.
In Unsung : Unsaid we also learn about other previously undocumented aspects of their young lives. There’s Nick’s showcase Festival Hall concert in the summer of 1971 and Syd’s short-lived band with Steve Took, during 1972. A portfolio of Syd’s unrecorded songs which turned up at his music publishers in 1974 will reveal to the reader for the very first time an abundance of previously unseen lyrics. Similarly, a bootlegged copy of Nick’s unreleased fourth LP is faithfully and lovingly detailed by two of his most ardent admirers. You can read about the long-lost solo album that Syd was going to record in 1967 before the demo went missing, and about Nick’s aborted plan to record an album of cover versions, complete with a full run down of the tracks he chose and his reasons for choosing them. A rare audio letter has been unearthed in which Nick muses on his musical apprenticeship and his misgivings about the record industry. In another equally candid letter, written but never sent to Francoise Hardy he talks about his love of Paris, about Albert Camus and other philosophical matters.
We explore the intricacies of both men’s dreams and what they say about their troubled psyches. We learn in more animated detail than ever before about the realities (and acid induced unrealities) of Syd’s formative years in Cambridge and his coming of age in Swinging London. The Happenings. The art school apprenticeship. The light shows. The I Ching and the search for spiritual enlightenment. Syd’s residency at the Chelsea Cloisters hotel and his increasingly wayward daily derives around London. It’s all here.
Unsung : Unsaid gives momentum to stasis, substance to enigma and helps us understand more about what drove and derailed each man’s creativity. It is a philosophical meditation on absence, existential crisis and loss. But underpinning it all is those three (or is it four? Or more?) encounters in 1974. “This bedraggled Estragon and haunted Vladimir, so alike in their vacancy” captured shortly before they both drift into myths and fables. In a way it always has been about myths and fables but you’ll learn as much here about the actual Syd Barrett and Nick Drake as you will from any biographical account.
Here’s to more plausible myths and fables.