Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason names his 5 favourite Syd Barrett songs

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason named his favourite Syd Barrett songs, many of which he has performed on his solo tour Saucerful of Secrets.

Mason’s tour tries to get as far away as possible from being a Pink Floyd tribute band. The songs he plays are exclusively selected from Pink Floyd’s pre-Dark Side of the Moon, pre-1973 repertoire. Most of the songs written before 1973 were psychedelic ballads from the mind of Syd Barrett.

Though much of this material hasn’t been performed in four decades, this fresh take on Pink Floyd’s discography separates him from bandmates David Gilmour and Roger Waters, who have toured on the hits in recent times. For the tour, his pseudo-Pink Floyd is made up of Spandau Ballet guitarist Gary Kemp, Pink Floyd touring bassist Guy Pratt, guitarist Lee Harris, and keyboardist Dom Beken.

Photo: Rex Features

In the face of his recent tour playing material from Pink Floyd’s pre-Dark Side of the Moon era,Rolling Stone talks to Nick Mason about his favourite Syd Barrett songs.

Check out Mason’s choices below. All quotes are taken from his recent interview with Rolling Stone.

Astronomy Domine

“I think it’s got a great science fiction vibe to it. It’s interstellar, but it’s also a bit more astrology. And then there’s a fantastic bit of Sixties philosophy mixed with a sort of psychedelic lyric. For me, it’s also really fun to play because of the tempo. It reminds me a little bit of Ginger Baker, who was a huge influence on me. There’s a Ginger Baker-style of drum fill in this song. The track begins with our manager reading the names of the planets. Those were the days when management was involved in the artistic decisions as well as the business,” Mason told Rolling Stone.


“From what I remember about this song, all of the clocks on it were recorded for real. The lyrics to this are so very Syd, astonishingly clever. It’s fun, but there’s a depth of sadness to them. When I listen to it now, I realise how young and immature we were and how hopeless we were at coming to grips with Syd’s breakdown.”

Interstellar Overdrive

“This is a track that is open to improvisation and reinterpretation. When you play the opening riffs, you can freestyle it so many different ways. At the moment, we have one way of playing it, but I think once we get back on the road, I’m hoping it will take some other directions.” 

Vegetable Man

“A wonderful song. It sounds relatively simple, but it’s actually a bit more complicated and almost punk. It’s sort of four snare beats to the bar, which is a very sort of punk way of drumming. So many songs were written by Syd in such a short time period. It was less than two years from our first public show in October of 1967. At that time we only had two or three original songs. And just about a year later, it was already sort of burning out.”

Arnold Layne

“This is a really unusual song. It’s part of the late-1960s thing where suddenly songs are more than just “I’m gonna get you, babe.” The weird thing is that I think back in 67, and the end of 66, we thought we wanted to be an R&B band, and somehow got completely distracted by writings songs like this and “Bike” and “The Gnome” and that whole rather weird English way of life.”

Via Rolling Stone.