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*4.32-CHAPTER 24 (Pink Floyd)

Syd Barrett
Syd Barrett

LISTEN

All movement is accomplished in six stages
And the seventh brings return.
The seven is the number of the young light.
It forms when darkness is increased by one.

     Change. Return. Success.
     Going and coming without error.
     Action brings good fortune.

          Sunset.

The time is with the month of Winter solstice
When the change is due to come.
Thunder in the Earth, the course of Heaven.
Things cannot be destroyed once and for all.

     [Chorus]

          Sunset. Sunrise.

[Break]

[Repeat 1st verse]

     [Chorus]

          Sunset. Sunrise.

          [Coda: Sunrise]


Like John Lennon’s Tomorrow Never Knows, this song by Syd Barrett draws from a mystical text, in this case the I Ching. Chapter 24 of that book concerns the six line hexagram called in English "The Turning Point", depicting the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year after which the light begins again to gain ascendency. Many of the lines are drawn directly or are approximations of text from the 1950 translation by Richard Wilhelm and Cary Baynes.

Barrett’s lyric to Chapter 24 seems to find solace in the “darkest moment is just before the dawn”, an American way of putting a similar sentiment that was expressed frequently by the Mamas & Papas during this period. However, the song seems to emphasize the singer’s low point, and like the Beatles’ Getting Better, shares in the feeling that it can’t get no worse. The first time the day and night metaphor arises Barrett only mentions the sunset. Afterwards, sunset is followed by sunrise. In the coda, the song remains in sunrise, repeating the word over & over, while Richard Wright’s wandering Farfisa organ work evokes sunrays and the wonder of the recurring light, extending the sunrise theme beyond that expressed in the break. The two verses are accompanied by a Hohner Pianet that with its staccato notes sounds much like a plucked harp, and gives the I Ching text an appropriate antiquity and courtliness. The Hohner Pianet had previously been used by the Beatles on Sgt. Pepper for Getting Better and on some of their other songs, but its earliest pop appearance seems to have been with the Zombies’ She’s Not There. It was also used by the Lovin’ Spoonful in their psychedelic hit Summer in the City.

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