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"Arnold Layne" was the first single released by British Psychedelic rock group Pink Floyd, shortly after landing a recording contract with EMI. The song was written by Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd's co-founder and original front man. Although not included on the band's debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (though it is included on the bonus disc of the CD version), "Arnold Layne" has come to be popular within fan circles, and is featured on numerous compilation albums of the band.

Pink Floyd version

The song

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. Waters: "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."

However, despite finding a place in the Top 20, the song's unusual transvestism theme attracted the ire of Radio London, which deemed the song too far-removed from "normal" society for its listeners before eventually banning it from radio airplay altogether.

Producer Norman Smith wanted the band to re-record the Joe Boyd-produced song after they had signed up with EMI. While Waters and keyboardist Richard Wright were willing to do this, Barrett, on the other hand, was entirely satisfied with the existing studio cut, and argued against recording another version. Attempts were made to re-record the song at the insistence of EMI (who at the time only wanted to use in-house producers) but, perhaps due to Barrett's indifference to doing so, the re-recordings never got very far and the Boyd-produced session was used.

Boyd mentioned in several interviews over the years that "Arnold Layne" regularly ran for 10 to 15 minutes in concert (with extended instrumental passages), but the band knew that it had to be shortened for use as a single.

Music videos

A black and white promotional film of "Arnold Layne" was made the same year, and featured members of Pink Floyd dressing up a mannequin before showing it around a beach. Recently, an alternative promotional film was unearthed, which featured the band goofing around in a forest and in front of a church. It is also the only known footage of Syd Barrett lip synching to the song.

Track Listing

A. "Arnold Layne"

B. "Candy and a Currant Bun"

All tracks written by Syd Barrett.


David Gilmour version

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 the April 17, 2006 show at the Oakland Paramount Theatre. This incarnation of the song was sung by Richard Wright and remained in the setlist until May 31.

On 26 December 2006, two live recordings of the song, from David Gilmour's May 2006 On an Island shows at the Royal Albert Hallmarker were released as a live single, which peaked at #19 on the UK Singles chart. 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 1 and Richard Wright's version as a bonus on disc 2).

Track listing

  1. "Arnold Layne" (with David Bowie) 3:30
  2. "Arnold Layne" (with Richard Wright) 3:23
  3. "Dark Globe" 2:23

All tracks written by Syd Barrett


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 / Backing vocals (tracks 1-2)


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