Saturday, March 6, 2010

Lucifer Sam

Lucifer Sam 3:04
     (written by Syd Barrett)

Lucifer Sam, Siam cat
Always sitting by your side
Always by your side
That cat's something I can't explain

Jennifer gentle, you're a witch
You're the left side
He's the right side
Oh, no!
That cat's something I can't explain

Lucifer, go to sea
Be a hip cat, be a ship's cat
Somewhere, anywhere
That cat's something I can't explain

At night prowling, sifting sand
Hiding around on the ground
He'll be found when you're around
That cat's something I can't explain

Lead vocals: Syd Barrett

Lucifer Sam was probably recorded in late May or June of 1967, and seems to be inspired by one of Syd's cats. The working title for this song was Percy the Ratcatcher, and the band even contemplated making a film called 'The Life Story of Percy the Ratcatcher,' though this project never materialized.

One of the song's more obscure lyrics, 'you're the left side/he's the right side' was a reference to a current preoccupation in underground culture, that of the difference between the left and right sides of the brain. People who were logical and pragmatic were said to be dominated by the left side, whereas the artistic and intuitive set primarily used the right side.

Syd Barrett: "Lucifer Sam was another of those quite obscure pieces. It didn't mean much to me at the time, but after three or four months, it began to assume a precise meaning."

Astronomy Domine
Lucifer Sam
Matilda Mother
Pow R. Toc H.
Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk
Interstellar Overdrive
Gnome, The
Chapter 24
Scarecrow, The


  1. Uncle Custard you did such a kickass job with these song factoids.Every Floyd obsessive should know about these.

    1. Ditto! For sure.
      I just want more information on those awesome, historical photos posted here.

  2. I have a different opinion about this song. I don't think Lucifer Sam was really a cat. I think it's a play on words. I think it's one of those have-you-got-it-yet deceptions. Syd was very sneaky with words. He was a master of symbolism, word reversals, double meanings, and all sorts of other mind tricks. He was a wordsmith in the most mad-joker kind of way...Back in the sixties, men called other men "cats". It was a very common expression back then. I think Lucifer Sam (or Percy) was really a dude, and Syd was expressing something much deeper, something he couldn't say openly. The clue: "You're the left side, he's the right side, oh no!" Very clever. I don't believe it was a left-brain/right-brain thing, though that may have been a convenient explanation to hide behind. I think Syd was dating Jennifer and this "cat" at the same time. I think this person appears in many of Syd's songs. I think Syd's male companion wanted to keep the relationship hidden, so Syd had to mask this man's identity when writing songs about their relationship..."Always by your side, that cat's something I can't explain." Indeed...Keep in mind, Syd started telling people he might be gay. Or that he was gay. He sometimes bordered on dressing in drag. It's not so hard to imagine that Syd may have been gay, or at least bisexual. Back in that time period, it would have been very forbidden. And Syd was a sly prankster with word tricks. He wasn't so innocent. As he said in his last press interview, "I'm not anything that you think I am anyway."