Sunday, March 21, 2010

Vegetable Man

Vegetable Man  2:32
Studio recording 9 August 1967 

* Unreleased

Written by Syd Barrett
Produced by Norman Smith

In yellow shoes, I get the blues
So I walk the streets with my plastic feet
With blue velvet trousers, make me feel pink
There's a kind of stink about blue velvet trousers
In my paisley shirt, I look a jerk
And my turquoise waistcoat is quite out of sight
But oh, oh! My haircut looks so bad!
Vegetable man, where are you?

So I change my gear, and I find my knees
And I cover them up with the latest cut
And my pants and socks are bought in a box
It don't take long to buy nylon socks
The watch, black watch
My watch with a black face
And the date in a little hole
And all the lot is what I got
It's what I wear
It's what you see
It must be me
It's what I am
Vegetable man

I've been looking all over the place for a place for me
But it ain't anywhere, it just ain't anywhere
Vegetable man (8x)
The kind of fella you just gotta see if you can
Vegetable man

Lead vocals: Syd Barrett

Peter Jenner: "Syd wrote Vegetable Man in my house. It was really uncanny. He sat there and just described himself, what he was wearing and doing at that time."

The song that would have been the B-side to the Scream Thy Last Scream single, if it had been released (see that entry for more information and quotes). Vegetable Man is a condemnation of those dedicated followers of fashion, implying they don't think for themselves and are over-concerned with every minutia of personal appearance. In addition, the brilliant couplet 'It's what you see/It must be me' ironically attacks the basic human tendency to judge the nature of other humans based only on superficial perceptions. Syd seems to feel that there isn't really a place in society for those people, like himself, who aren't 'vegetable men.'

Syd wrote the song on the afternoon of 9 August at his manager's home, which also served as a base for the band. He was about to go round to Abbey Road to record the proposed single, which still lacked a Bside. Vegetable Man was the answer.

Peter Jenner: "Syd was around at my house just before he had to go to record and, because a song was needed, he just wrote a description of what he was wearing at the time and threw in a chorus that went 'Vegetable Man — where are you?'"

And indeed, in photos from the period Syd can be seen wearing his black watch which he describes in the song, 'with the date in a little hole.' This is another classic of Syd Barrett's later period which certainly ought to be released some day.

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