Item Details

The vegetables turned: sifting the psychedelic subsoil of Brian Wilson and Syd Barrett

Issue: Vol 4 No. 1 (2009)

Journal: Popular Music History

Subject Areas: Popular Music

DOI: 10.1558/pomh.v4i1.57


This article offers a comparative analysis of aspects of the careers of two celebrated 1960s popular musicians, Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys and Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd. Through formal and contextual readings of selected songs, it argues that during 1967, in the hands of Barrett, Wilson and his lyricist Van Dyke Parks, the incongruous, semantically complex figure of the vegetable came to illuminate aspects of psychedelic consciousness and – part by design, part by accident – the link between LSD and Anglo-American popular music. It threw light, too, on the scope and limits of changes in the relationship between creative artists and the Anglo-American popular music industry in the mid-1960s. Finally, and in retrospect, the figure of the vegetable cast into relief the counter-culture’s utopian and dystopian dynamics as manifested in these song-writers’ personal lives, now rendered as contemporary counter-cultural myth.

Author: Dale Carter

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