He was of course a prodigious talent, with as much raw ability as a songwriter and performer as anyone coming out of the UK in the mid-1960s, if not more. He had what remains one of the most identifiable voices in music, that crystalline cocktail of menace, madness and sweetness. It's painful to think what he could have done had he remained healthy, just as it is impressive to measure all of his considerable gifts.
But I like to think that had he been able to be around as a functioning performer long enough, he may have eventually come to work with this guy. Who clearly had an affection for Syd's music.
And if they made music together? I have little doubt it would have sounded something like this.
This is my favorite Robyn Hitchcock song, and not just because Michael Stipe is part of it. It's the way these two very big and very different musical figures mesh so wonderfully together in such an understated way. And how downright lovely the result is. (With Peter Buck, who worshiped Robyn Hitchcock long before becoming a household rock-n-roll name himself, on guitar!)
Many have always thought of Robyn Hitchcock as the evolutionary Syd Barrett, myself included. He sounds like him, he writes like him, he seems to inhabit those strange, lurking spaces that Syd also seemed so fond of finding.
And when I listen to song like "She Doesn't Exist," which even lends a bit of a nod to the classic 60s Zombies song "She's Not There," which also sounds like the kind of thing that could have made Syd Barrett happy, I can't help but think that maybe we're listening to one more great tune Syd never got a chance to do.
As Papa once wrote, "Isn't it pretty to think so?"