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Arnold Layne

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"Arnold Layne" was the first single released by the English psychedelic rock band The Pink Floyd (later simply Pink Floyd), shortly after landing a recording contract with EMI. It was written by Syd Barrett, their co-founder and original frontman. Although not originally included on the band's début album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, "Arnold Layne" is featured on numerous Pink Floyd compilation albums.


 [hide*1 Lyrics


The song's title character is a transvestite whose primary pastime is stealing women's clothes and undergarments from washing lines. According to Roger Waters, "Arnold Layne" was actually based on a real person: "Both my mother and Syd's mother had students as lodgers because there was a girls' college up the road so there were constantly great lines of bras and knickers on our washing lines and 'Arnold' or whoever he was, had bits off our washing lines."


In January, Pink Floyd went to Sound Techniques studio in Chelsea[1] (they had been there previously, to record two songs for Tonite Let's All Make Love in London).[2] Here, the band recorded "Arnold Layne",[1][3] and few other songs: "Matilda Mother", "Chapter 24", "Interstellar Overdrive"[3] and "Let's Roll Another One" (which was renamed to "Candy and a Currant Bun", at the lead of Waters).[3] Nick Mason on the choice of "Arnold Layne": "We knew we wanted to be rock'n'roll stars and we wanted to make singles, so it seemed the most suitable song to condense into 3 minutes without losing too much".[3] The band had tried to re-record "Arnold Layne" after signing up with EMI, but the Joe Boyd version from January was released instead.[3] The song would be Boyd's last production for Pink Floyd.[4]

Boyd mentioned in several interviews over the years that "Arnold Layne" regularly ran for ten to fifteen minutes in concert (with extended instrumental passages), but the band knew that it had to be shortened for use as a single. He has also said it was a complex recording involving some tricky editing, recalling that the middle instrumental section withRichard Wright's organ solo was recorded as an edit piece and spliced into the song for the final mix.

Both "Arnold Layne" and "Candy and a Currant Bun" were mixed into mono for the single. Both have never been given a stereo mix, though the four-track master tapes still exist in the EMI tape archive.

Music videos[edit]Edit

A black and white promotional film of "Arnold Layne" was made in late February 1967, directed by Derek Nice and featured members of Pink Floyd dressing up a mannequin before showing it around a beach in East Wittering, West Sussex.[5] This promo, made for £2,000,[5] was meant to be screened on 3 April 1967 for the BBC's Top of the Pops show, but cancelled when the single dropped down the chart.[6]Another promotional film was recorded for the song, this time filmed on 29 April near St Michael's Church in Highgate.[7] It is the only known footage of Barrett lip-synching to the song. It was shot in the spring of 1967, around the time that his mental deterioration began.


The single was released on 10 March 1967 in the UK, backed by "Candy and a Currant Bun".[8] The band's management, Blackhill Enterprises, had paid to boost the single's chart position,[9] as managerAndrew King stated: "We spent a couple of hundred quid, [...] trying to buy it into the charts. The management did that, not EMI."[10] However, despite reaching number 20 in the UK singles chart,[11] the song's unusual transvestism theme attracted the ire of pirate radio station Radio London, which deemed the song was too far-removed from "normal" society for its listeners, before eventually banning it from radio airplay altogether.[3][12][13] The song later appeared on the band's 1983 compilation album Works and their 2001 retrospective best-of, Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd.[14]

Track listing[edit]Edit

All tracks written by Syd Barrett.

  1. "Arnold Layne" – 2:52
  2. "Candy and a Currant Bun" – 2:38


David Gilmour version[edit]Edit

"Arnold Layne"
Single by David Gilmour
from the album Remember That Night
B-side "Dark Globe"
Released 26 December 2006
Recorded 29 May 2006 at Royal Albert Hall, London
Genre Psychedelic rock
Length 3:30 (with David Bowie)

3:23 (with Richard Wright)

Label EMI
Producer(s) David Gilmour
David Gilmour singles chronology


"Arnold Layne"


David Gilmour, during his solo tour promoting On an Island, unexpectedly added the song to the setlist near the end of the American tour on 17 April 2006 show at the Oakland Paramount Theatre. This incarnation of the song was sung by Richard Wright and remained in the setlist until 31 May.

On 26 December 2006, two live recordings of the song, from Gilmour's On an Island shows at the Royal Albert Hall were released as a live single, which peaked at No. 19 on the UK Singles chart.[15] One version had guest vocals by David Bowie. Both versions are featured on Gilmour's DVD/BD, Remember That Night (Bowie's version on disc one and Wright's version as a bonus on disc two).

Track listing

All tracks written by Syd Barrett.

  1. "Arnold Layne" (with David Bowie) – 3:30
  2. "Arnold Layne" (with Richard Wright) – 3:23
  3. "Dark Globe" – 2:23
  • David Gilmour - electric guitar, backing vocals (tracks 1-2), acoustic guitar, vocals (track 3)
  • Richard Wright - organ (tracks 1-2), lead vocals (track 2), backing vocals (track 1)
  • Jon Carin - keyboards, backing vocals (tracks 1-2)
  • Phil Manzanera - guitar, backing vocals (tracks 1-2)
  • Steve DiStanislao - drums (tracks 1-2)
  • Guy Pratt - bass guitar, backing vocals (tracks 1-2)

Pink Floyd 2007 performance[edit]Edit

On 10 May 2007, Pink Floyd, featuring Gilmour, Mason and Wright (minus Waters, who had appeared onstage earlier in the evening) performed for what was to be Wright's final live performance, at The Barbican, London, for The Madcap's Last Laugh, a tribute show for Syd Barrett organised by Joe Boyd. At the end of the show, they were introduced as surprise guests and they performed "Arnold Layne" once more with Wright taking the lead vocal.

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