Inclined To Borrow Somebody’s Dreams

On July 13th 1967, Pink Floyd made their second appearance on BBC Top Of The Pops to promote their new single, that Syd Barrett titled, ‘See Emily Play’.  Pink Floyd’s second single was originally titled ‘Games For May’ and it was recorded on May 23rd 1967, and released on June 16th and it went on to peak at No.6 on the UK chart.  Barrett’s lifelong passion was painting, and he drew the train that is depicted on the single’s sleeve.

Barrett took up the guitar at a young age, inspired by blues and R&B singers.  In Cambridge he was friendly with future Pink Floyd members Roger Waters and David Gilmour, so when he attended Art College in London in 1964, he sought out Waters, who had formed a band with fellow students Nick Mason and Richard Wright.  Syd joined The Tea Set in 1965 and he assumed front man duties on guitar and lead vocals.  Barrett originally claimed that he saw a girl named Emily, that was dancing naked in the woods while he was sleeping after he took a psychedelic drug, but later he stated that the story about sleeping in the woods and seeing a girl was made up for publicity.  ‘See Emily Play’ along with ‘Money’ and ‘Another Brick in the Wall Part 2’ are included in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll”.

Syd Barrett, founder of Pink Floyd, came up with the band’s name by juxtaposing the first names of Bluesmen Pinkney ‘Pink’ Anderson and Floyd ‘Dipper Boy’ Council. In 1967, he said, “The name Pink Floyd came from two Blues singers from Georgia, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council”.  He noticed the names on the notes of a 1962 Blind Boy Fuller album.  The text, written by Paul Oliver, read, “Curley Weaver and Fred McMullen, Pink Anderson or Floyd Council, these were a few amongst the many blues singers that were to be heard in the rolling hills of the Piedmont, or meandering with the streams through the wooded valleys.”

Fulton Allen was called Blind Boy Fuller by his manager J D Long and he had a short career as he was only 33 when he died, but he became one of the most influential and best-selling bluesmen of his time.  Curly James Weaver was encouraged to sing and taught to play the guitar by his mother,  Savannah ‘Dip’ Shepard and he is perhaps one of the least appreciated of the great Piedmont blues singer/guitarists, generally overshadowed by his  contemporary, long term frequent partner and friend, ‘Blind’ Willie McTell.  Fred McMullen was an American blues singer and guitarist that played the bottleneck blues guitar, often along with Curley Weaver and Buddy Moss.  He spent time incarcerated at a convict camp in DeKalb County, Georgia and you can find recordings of him singing ‘DeKalb Chain Gang’ with Curly Weaver.  Pinkney Anderson was playing guitar at the age of 14 to entertain the folks who came to the medicine show to buy Dr. Kerr’s ‘cure-all medicine’.  He teamed up with a blind guitarist called Simmie Dooley, and they worked up a huge repertoire of Folk, Piedmont-style Blues and Ragtime songs as they both sang their way around the South.  Floyd Council was a superb Piedmont guitarist, mandolin player and singer who recorded 27 songs over his career, seven of them backing Blind Boy Fuller.

The main inspiration for ‘See Emily Play’ is thought to be a fifteen year old girl named Emily Young, who was the daughter of Wayland Hilton Young, 2nd Baron Kennet.  She was nicknamed “the psychedelic schoolgirl” at the UFO Club in London, where Pink Floyd used to play before they went mainstream.  Emily frolicked across Holland Park to the London Free School (a kind of underground Citizen’s Advice Bureau and loose-knit quasi-university where a coterie of stimulating students, activists, poets, musicians, and would-be hippies met) with her friend Anjelica Huston.  Intellectual curiosity prompted Emily to visit the Free School and educate herself beyond school curriculum.  Her private ‘evening classes’ consisted of reading William Blake, existentialists and Romantic poets, dressed at the same time in a noticeable long Victorian style gown that touched the ground.  Syd Barrett became friends with both Anjelica and Emily and one night after a performance, they smoked a few joints together.  Syd Barrett later lost his mind, probably from doing too much acid and his band mates kicked him out of the group in 1968.

On the track for ‘See Emily Play’ were Syd Barrett (lead vocals, electric guitar, slide guitar), Rick Wright (Farfisa organ, piano, tack piano, Baldwin Spinet electric harpsichord, backing vocals), Roger Waters (bass, backing vocals), and Nick Mason (drum).  Barrett did the slide guitar work on the song with a Zippo lighter.  This Emily is living her life as a cheap imitation of someone else, following what her friends are doing, copying the way they dress and not understanding why she is this way.  Since she is not an original, she has to borrow somebody else’s dreams till she becomes her own person.  After dark, Emily cries while gazing through trees in sorrow, probably because she is not able to see the forest through the trees, because she is a follower and she will never get the whole picture.  Since Emily does not have her own dreams, she will hardly make a sound till tomorrow.  When she wakes, she will put on a gown that touches the ground, and then float on a river forever and ever, because her spirit is carefree and she enjoys playing games.

Emily tries but misunderstands, ah ooh
She’s often inclined to borrow somebody’s dreams till tomorrow
There is no other day
Let’s try it another way
You’ll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play

Soon after dark Emily cries, ah ooh
Gazing through trees in sorrow hardly a sound till tomorrow
There is no other day
Let’s try it another way
You’ll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play

Put on a gown that touches the ground, ah ooh
Float on a river forever and ever, Emily
There is no other day
Let’s try it another way
You’ll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play.

Written for Ragtag Community – Coterie and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Stimulating.

9 thoughts on “Inclined To Borrow Somebody’s Dreams

  1. In my younger days I was a like warm Pink Floyd fan, but recently I’ve been listening to mostly classic rock on Sirius XM in the car and on Comcast Music Choice on the TV at home and have rediscovered the magic of Pink Floyd. Great post, Jim.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. He turned over his turntable cover and filled it with ice and placed it on his amplifier. We had to smoke a few joints while we waited for it to cool down enough before we could listen to Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy album.

        Liked by 1 person

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