Excited by Roger Waters' presentation of "The Wall" in concert, putting on four shows this week in Chicago? Here are three new opportunities to dive into the history behind that show and the band's nearly iconic original singer ...
1. If you need to go back to the film of "The Wall" -- or especially if you want to see it for the first time -- don't dial up the occasional rerun on VH1 Classic. Like your first "Rocky Horror" experience: You need a big screen, and you need guidance. Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot, hosts of NPR's weekly pop music talk show "Sound Opinions," will introduce and comment on the film before screening "The Wall" at another Sound Opinions at the Movies event, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport. Tickets are $9 in advance, $10 at the door.
2. The man who co-founded and named Pink Floyd, its first singer and songwriter, Syd Barrett, led a troubled life with a sad end. This November, UK journalist Rob Chapman publishes A Very Irregular Head: The Life of Syd Barrett, attempting to examine the accepted myths of Barrett's mental illness. He doesn't necessarily debunk the urban legends, but he does ground them with research and fact (a rarity in rock and roll history).
This recollection, from a bartender who saw Barrett frequently in his declining years, sums up the dichotomy of his maddening descent: "He used to ... just sit there and drink Guinness, Guinness, Guinness. He put so much weight on. Then he shaved his head, as well. But it was his eyes that gave it all away. Those starey eyes. It wasn't spaced out. How can I describe it? Different world. Some days he would ignore you like you weren't even there. Some days you could have a pretty normal conversation. Other days he was completely out of it."
3. A week before that book hits shelves, a fine collection of Barrett's songs, "An Introduction to Syd Barrett," is released Nov. 9. The set, executive-produced by David Gilmour, features six Floyd tracks (including a new mix of "Matilda Mother") and a dozen solo selections, including a few fresh remixes (and Gimour added new bass to "Her I Go").