Who was Emily Young, "The Psychedelic Schoolgirl," the girl who inspired one of Pink Floyd's most famous singles?
While the Fab Four were in a spiritual and drug induced journey to India and shaping the album that would turn music upside down, another British group distanced itself from the traditional path and shaped a sound that would generate similar mental effects as the ones produced by LSD.
Who gets the credit for this musical innovation? The Beatles used their hallucinogenic experiences as central themes in some of their songs; however, Pink Floyd was already building the foundations of a totally new genre that later was known as psychedelia.
The reach of this group became so important that in just a few years their influence in countercultural music was noticeable. Comprised in their first stage by Richard Wright, Roger Waters, and Nick Mason, the group was creatively led by the singer and composer Syd Barrett.
Just as the band's popularity and record sales increased, inner conflicts between the members did as well, which spurred Syd Barrett quit the band. Pink Floyd was shaping the sounds of progressive rock, presenting it as an alternative to other subgenres of rock. But, do you know what was happening in 1966, when the band's first notes were played at the Roundhouse Club at London?
When Barrett was still in the band, he composed "Interstellar Overdrive," which led to a contract with EMI Records to record their first album. They first recorded two singles: "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play."
With the release of the second single, the unstoppable and winding rise of the band began. The rest, as people say, is history. The question here is kind of obvious: what made this song special?
Syd Barrett once shared that the character that inspired him to write this song was a woman he saw in the woods while he was walking under the effects of acid. Later on, he admitted to inventing the story, Nicholas Schaffner, a musical journalist and the band's biographer, believed this song was written to the daughter of an English baron, who used to spend her nights at the UFO Club, one of the first venues where Pink Floyd performed.
The name of this girl, also known as "The Psychedelic Schoolgirl," was Emily Young.
The recording of this single remains a mystery, since EMI doesn't have records of the sessions made at the time. All we know are reconstructed memories from more than fifty years ago, which make it unreliable. What we certainly know is that Syd Barrett used a plastic ruler to play his guitar and the piano sessions were recorded with a different speed.
While Pink Floyd's fame grew and began playing at bigger venues, Emily Young distanced from the UFO Club and started a prestigious career in sculpting. Nowadays, most of her pieces are exhibited in parks in London, a city where Pink Floyd launched its career as a global phenomenon that still entices new listeners.
There are many bands who developed their unique sounds within the psychedelic movement. Check The Door's Most Psychedelic Song And How It Lets You Explore The Limits Of Reality. If you're interested in the psychedelic movement you should take a look at 10 Psychedelic Instagram Artists You Should Follow.
Translated by María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards