4. The last song he wrote for Pink Floyd is impossible to play.
By late 1967, Barrett’s erratic behavior and general unreliability had made him a serious liability to the band. He spent many concerts strumming a single chord, slowly detuning his guitar until the strings went slack, or merely staring out of the crowd – if he bothered to show up at all. Given his increasingly tenuous mental state, the rest of the band deemed it necessary to hire David Gilmour, their longtime Cambridge friend, to fill in for Barrett onstage. Much as the Beach Boys had done with their similarly disturbed leader, Brian Wilson, Barrett was to be kept on as a studio member and primary composer.
When Pink Floyd gathered in January 1968 for one of their first rehearsals as a quintet, Barrett shared a new composition he called “Have You Got It Yet?” The song sounded straightforward, but the band became confused as they tried to join in and learn the number. The melody and structure seemed to shift on each run-through, with Barrett gleefully singing a chorus of “Have you got it yet? Have you got it yet?” at them.
Eventually they realized that Barrett was changing the arrangement each time, deliberately making the song impossible to learn. “We didn’t get it for quite a long time,” says Gilmour in Rob Chapman’s book A Very Irregular Head. “I remember the moment and the song well. It was really just a 12-bar, but the responses were always in the wrong places according to Syd. Some parts of his brain were perfectly intact – his sense of humor being one of them.”
Roger Waters also appreciated the humor. “I actually thought there was something rather brilliant about it, like some kind of clever comedy. But eventually I just said, ‘Oh, I’ve got it now,’ and walked away.” It would be Barrett’s last practice session with Pink Floyd. The song was never recorded.
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