Books I Love: A Saucerful of Secrets

I’m very busy working on a few different things, including the craziest idea yet, but it’s important to me to maintain momentum and keep posting in my blog, so it’s time for another series of Things I Love.

This week, I’m going to highlight some books that were important to me when I was becoming an adult in my late teens and early twenties. All of them will be instantly-recognizable to certain people, but I think it’s likely that they’ve flown beneath the radar for most of you, and are worth pointing out. All of them, though, were very influential on my young life, and played a significant part in shaping the person I am today.

First up is a wonderful biography of Pink Floyd.

A Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey starts in the late 1960s when the band was formed by Syd Barrett, and continues all the way through A Momentary Lapse of Reason. It chronicles the band’s rise, the tension among them, and their eventual breakup.

I read this when it was published in 1992, at a time when Pink Floyd – especially The Wall and The Final Cut – spoke to me on a visceral level. I still enjoyed performing, but I was struggling with my distaste for the film and television industry. I was lurching from one shitty forgettable movie to the next, and wondering just what happened to my once-promising acting career. I felt like everything I’d spent my whole life working on was falling apart, and I wasn’t even sure if it’s what I really wanted to do with my life in the first place.

When I read this book, and followed the entire history of this band that meant so much to me, including all their creative struggles, it was comforting and inspiring, and I think it may have played an unconscious role in my decision to leave Hollywood (literally and figuratively) and go work for NewTek on the Video Toaster 4000.

Even if you’re not having a Seldon Crisis about your life, it’s still a great book. While a lot of the information contained in it can be found online in various places, it’s well-organized and enjoyable to read it in this format, and the hardback edition I have comes with a bunch of great art, as well.

next time: the ghost in the machine

27 thoughts on “Books I Love: A Saucerful of Secrets”

  1. Loved that book. There were some great stories in there. Like the time when they were driving to a gig, and one of them said something like “Shall we go by and pick up Syd ?” and another one answered “Oh no, lets dont.”
    Or the one where they were playing a gig (sans Syd) and Syd showed up and got in the audience up front and center and just stared down Gilmore.
    Good stuff….

  2. I have the trade paperback of this book and it is a great read. I also have Nick Mason’s book, “Inside Out”, which is a great retrospective of Pink Floyd.

  3. Not really related, but just wanted you to know what one of your woot shirts was up to. On Saturday I wore my How We Roll shirt while helping collect 21k+ boxes of Girl Scout cookies for Operation Cookie Drop. Thought you’d be happy to know your shirts are doing good work out there.That’s a lot of cookies!

  4. I’ve been a fan of Floyd since early high school (early 1980s). Dark Side of the Moon was my first Pink Floyd experience. That will always be my favourite album.
    Biography-wise, I have the “Making of Dark Side of the Moon on DVD”. Fascinating insights on how the album was made. I also saw Waters live last summer here in Ottawa when he did DSotM.
    I should keep an eye out for that book next time I’m at the bookstore. Thanks for the heads-up.

  5. Yeah, I saw that on Twitter about a half hour ago. I really despise those things, because they always make an effort to cast us in a negative light, facts be damned. This one was especially offensive because they got so much stuff wrong, it’s like it was written by a 7th grader who went to Wikipedia and cribbed it.
    If they’re going to write about where someone is *now,* maybe their information should be about what they’re doing *now* instead of what they did a year ago. or longer. And I never thought I’d defend Corey Feldman, but they got his stuff completely wrong, too. The whole reason Rob cast him was because of how much he was like that character, and that’s to Corey’s credit; he brought that role to life in a way that no other actor in the world coul. Also, his show was called The Surreal LIFE, not the Surreal World. If you’re going to slam the guy, barely-competent-AOL-writer, at least get your fucking facts straight when you do it, douche.
    I’m sure I’m the only one who gets worked up about this sort of thing, but I’m completely fed up with the goddamn media – especially entertainment writers – constantly getting the story wrong, and not even making an effort to get it right. I mean, it’s not like it’s hard for these idiots to do a little research.

  6. Wow, it’s a Floyd day today… the Sunday Times (UK) ran a lengthy article about Floyd, containing some new nuggets of info for those of us who (still) obsess over this band. There are some major factual errors, but overall it’s well worth the read.
    Here’s the story.
    Somewhere else (via I found an interview in which Roger Waters said he enjoyed playing golf. Golf! That blows the mind more than Ummagumma ever did…

  7. What do you expect? Half the time they don’t even check their grammar and spelling. And most of the time their galleries have massive duplicates.

  8. Do you have a copy of “Pink Floyd: A photodocumentary by Miles”? That’s the one that got me through a similar period probably around 4 years before you went through it. (And I gather I’m probably about 4 years older than you… go fig…) Loved having the dates of all the shows, and the tidbits that I could tie to specific moments in time. (True, the book didn’t go up to Final Cut, IIRC, but it got me most of the way there… and then I went off finding stuff on my own, like the Wall/Pros & Cons/Final Cut connections, or deciphering the morse code on the Radio KAOS sleeve…)

  9. So what you’re saying is that once a generation, a book about Pink Floyd will be released that provides guidance to society for the next 30-50 years while throwing out everything the previous generation achieved?

  10. Really? Or did I fail my sarcasm check?
    Seldon crisis for the win!
    Czeano’s mixing the Floyd reference with the Asimov reference.
    umm, right? (Says me who really only got the Asimov part *blush*)

  11. I saw the “where are they now” piece on AOL too. I think Moviefone is trying to go the way of TMZ. The more sensational, the better. I noticed that with your ‘update,’ Wil, they didn’t event talk about your amazing books. You just released book number 4(?) and they don’t even mention that or the multitude of fans all over the country that go gaga for them. For that matter, they didn’t even talk about the acting projects you’ve done.
    I added a little comment at the end for ‘perspective.’

  12. ….and then again, maybe not. Moviefone has their own membership type thing. I thought it was AOL. So all that stuff I typed disappeared when I tried to load it using the wrong password. :-(

  13. I haven’t made an account here, but I should’ve a long time ago. I’m a big fan of your books, and your blog/twitter. Been following both for awhile now, and I recently got ‘Just A Geek’ on audiobook for Christmas from my brother. That was just phenomenal. I’ve been a big RPG (not PnP or tabletop, but video games) and fantasy fan for as long as I can remember, but somehow missed out on D&D. And you’ve made me want to get into it.
    In response to what the moronic-AOL-writer-who-writes-about-people-aside-from-Kiefer-who-aren’t-on-tv-anymore-but-are-still-more-famous-than-he-will-ever-be posted, I really hope he doesn’t get paid. I mean, the article is, as you pointed out, is full of errors. From the Surreal “World”, to ’03 to ’09 being 7 years somehow (A leap year is extra day, not an extra year), it’s clear that the guy doesn’t even read his own stuff. It’s a little much to expect him to read what someone else has written if he won’t even read his own work.
    But you can always take solace knowing that you’re a better writer, and more people are likely to find you more credible than him. You were a celebrity in your youth, and you’re a celebrity now (at least to us nerdfolk =P ), but through your works, you’ve shown us you’re just like everyone else, and that humanity also gives you credibility.
    TL;DR You’re doing a great job, and you put out awesome work, whether it’s books, or blogs, or tweets. I’d like to thank you for that, and try not to let these uninformed articles get you too down.

  14. Wil,
    Just to add one more thing into your writer brain’s “To Do” list…
    After reading this blog for a few years now, it seems you intermittently mention the time you left the Hollywood industry to join the ranks of the IT crowd at NewTek (as if you needed any more geek cred in your quite interesting life).
    I’ve thought there must be LOTS of material there for another autobiographical piece on how you came across that opportunity and made the decision to move, etc. I’m sure there’s something you’ve already written in the blog archives about it, but it just seems like it has the potential to be a good longer-form story (especially when I imagine the reaction of your coworkers there when you first started).
    Has that been something you’ve considered?

  15. You need to be careful if you’re going to lambast someone about getting their facts right.
    “….to ’03 to ’09 being 7 years somehow (A leap year is extra day, not an extra year)”
    Lets count them shall we?
    03,04,05,06,07,08,09 = 7
    It depends how you count the years.
    I’ve only skimmed the article and it isn’t my specialist subject so i’m sure you right about other facts being incorrect.

  16. We’re in the same boat with the D&D thing. I’m a huge gamer but I was never interested in the tabletop experience until I listened to the campaign with Wil and the Penny Arcade guys. Now I’m gearing up to DM my first game ever. Funny ol’ world eh?

  17. Wow i feel really young — and not in a good sense. Being 19 sucks. I have no reference when people talk about things like Pink Floyd. I just nod, smile and quietly wiki the band.

  18. I too possessed this book and the insight on the working processes behind Floyd was incredible. Dark Side of the Moon still has an amazing amount of magic for me, and knowing that Gilmour stood in the way of a real reunion of Floyd makes me dislike him even more.
    BTW, your podcast really has me turned on to 4e and I’ll be running a game of my own soon, and another thank you for your recent comments about playing with your sons.

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