Arnold Layne

Album: Relics (1967)
Charted: 20
  • Original member Syd Barrett wrote this about a cross-dresser named "Arnold Layne" who used to steal bras and panties from clotheslines in Cambridge, England. Barrett lived near Roger Waters growing up. Their mothers both lost underwear to Arnold Layne.
  • Pink Floyd's first single; it was not used on an album. In promotional materials to accompany the single, the band's record company, EMI, wrote: "Pink Floyd does not know what people mean by psychedelic pop and are not trying to cause hallucinatory effects on their audience."
  • The group was set to make their Top Of The Pops debut with a performance of this song in April 1967, but were dropped when it fell three places on the UK chart that week. They first appeared on the show July 6, performing "See Emily Play."
  • Barrett was the group leader and an excellent songwriter, but he did a lot of drugs and lost his mind over the next year, becoming England's first high-profile acid casualty. He was kicked out of the band the next year, replaced by David Gilmour.
  • Radio London banned this song, since it was about a man who steals women's undergarments. The far more conservative BBC played it, indicating they either didn't have a problem with this particular subject matter or didn't understand it.
  • Before the band came out at their shows in the late '80s, this played while video of Pink Floyd in 1967 was shown on the giant screens.
  • This had a blues sound the band was known for. Pink Floyd's name originated from Syd Barrett. His two favorite blues artists, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, appeared to him in what he referred to as a "vision," giving Syd the idea for the name. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Anthony - Wantagh, NY
  • The promotional black-and-white music video displayed the band with Syd Barrett. Directed by Derek Nice, it shows Pink Floyd goofing around with a mannequin on the beach in East Wittering, West Sussex, England in late February 1967 ahead of the song's release the following month.
  • The song made an unexpected appearance in the live sets of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour during his 2006 tour promoting his solo album, On an Island. Later in the year, 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 #19 on the UK singles chart. One version had guest vocals by David Bowie, the other by Floyd's Richard Wright.

Comments: 33

  • Jrbosch from New YorkThis was the very first professional pink floyd song recorded after they signed with EMI
    A great song with a real creepy vibe
    about a cross dressing guy who would steal
    lady's undergarments from washing lines in the moonlight.
    Nothing like this had ever appeared on pop radio
    before and according to the floyd themselves was based
    on a real guy , not necessarily named Arnold Layne
    but Syd and Roger grew up.in the same Cambrigde
    neighborhood that had a lot of young female students
    renting flats and hanging out their laundry to dry.
    Unlike the song ,they never caught the bloke.
    ....as the Brits would say.
    But in the song poor Arnold
    Is sent to jail to spend his days In a chain gang
    ...which , being of feminine senitive proclivities,
    "he hated! "
    The song ends warning poor Arnold
    "Don't do it again!"
    Unfortunately, alot of things written in here are wrong
    No syd never said , as far as I can find
    That naming pink floyd
    By taking the first names of early southern blues
    pioneers Pink Anderson and Floyd Coucil
    Came to him.in a vision
    Anything that sounds mystical about syd or juicy tid-bits
    of take on his sanity or lack there of
    are usually a load of crap
    As far as I know he just had an album
    That they recorded together and came up.with it by bopping their first names together
    And the person who said the maniquin video
    was done after Syd left the group is so wrong
    It's not funny
    That very video is posted on this very page and syd is
    Clearly in every scene
    Yes there is another video they made
    by a church where syd and roger appear to be fist fighting while rick walks back and forth across the screen aimlessly. Syd does mime the words " why cant you see"
    At the end of each chourus while the other 3 'play dead'
    It's cool to watch but the official EMI maniquin video on the beach is clearly the better of the two.
    Again Arnold Layne , like alot of 1967 floyd
    was pretty cutting edge and ahead of it's time
    Great song....marking a great begining of a great band
  • Craig from CanadaI wonder if this song is related to "I'm a Lumberjack" by Monty Python?
  • Mee from Milton Keynes, United KingdomSyd never left Pink Floyd,that is his band,nobody can replace him. He IS Pink Floyd.RIP Syd.
  • Zep from Cape May, NjI know what you mean, Harry From IN, I loved watching that scene and how its all backwards.
    I tried that by throwing oranges at a wall, then a hat and a jacket, and then running away. Pretty fun!
    Oh yes, and only Pink Floyd, only Pink Floyd. xD
  • Harry from South Bend, InOnly Pink Floyd can make an upbeat, catchy song out of a transvestite. I enjoyed the video to this; Roger's backwards scene was fun to watch
  • Chloe from St. Louis, Molol. they were such freaks- brilliant, unsurpassingly genius freaks. but thats what made them so awesome, isnt it?
  • Doug from Kansas City, Moits time we had more songs about cross dressers, since about half the male population does it. The other half are liars!
  • Bryan from York, United Kingdomam i mistaken or was the 'video' for arnold layne
    filmed on wells -next- the- sea, North norfolk? can anyone help me on this one??
  • Andre from Portland, OrThe "mannequin video" was made after Syd left the band; an earlier promo video (of the band in the woods) actually does show Syd mouthing the lyrics. Both videos can be found on YouTube.
  • Arnold from Cambridge, EnglandLot of crap written on here, won't bother correcting any of it, not worth the bother. Shine On
  • Onnie from High Point, NcThe guitarist was the band's first creative force and an influential songwriter, penning their early hits.


    Born Roger Barrett in Cambridge, he composed songs including See Emily Play and Arnold Layne, both from 1967

    Tuesday, 11 July 2006, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
  • Ozzy from Fresno, Cathe music video for this is real bizzare, but remember wat its about and the awkwardness is matched...its a shame they kicked barrett out. i bet the other members didnt REALLY like him they just never understood his awesome genius =)
  • Shelby from Out Beyond The Wall, Kylove the accompanying video Syd looks so handsome in it =]
  • Rory from Charlotte, NcPink Anderson and Floyd Council were not Syd Barrett's favorite blues musicians. He found their names on the liner notes of another blues album and decided to put them together.
  • Lizz from Tampa, FlArnold Layne isn't the guys' name. THey never caught the guy. To spencer: he doesn't really go to jail for cross-dressing, he stole the things and went for stealing. :)
  • Spencer from Los Angeles, CaI don't get it, why does Arnold Layne go to jail for being a crossdresser? Oh, and when Roger Waters plays Set The Controls For The Heart of the Sun during his gigs, scenes from the video for this song play on the screen.
  • Bill from Erie, PaYeah... I heard that David Bowie sung this song and "Comfortably Numb" at Gilmour's Royal Albert Hall gigs.
  • Calum from Bathgate, ScotlandDavid Gilmour played this on his tour. It was great.
  • Emma from .., CanadaGilmour and Barrett attended the same Arts College and knew each other. They practised guitar together at lunchtime and taught each other things. Then after college Syd went off with his band, and Gilmour had about 2 bands before he was asked to be in Pink Floyd.
  • Helen from Oxford, Englandof course it wasn't.
  • J from Atl, Gaanderson council that is clever anyway was arnold layne the cross dressers real name
  • Gilmour from Lockport, NyChas from Webster I believe you are very confused.
    Syd started to go mad from a combination of drugs and a series of life events that he could not cope with. When Syd could not perform anymore they brought in David Gilmour to help out guitar playing and singing. They played 4 shows as a 5 piece band. On the night of the 5th show they decided that they had had enough and did not oick up Syd for the show. From that moment on David Gilmour became the guitar player and lead singer of the band. Gilmour has not left since. He has been with the band for about 28 years now. Waters left officially in 1985.
  • Ash from Charleston, WvNick Mason has the distinction of being the only member to be a part of every incarnation of the band, from its beginnings and all the way through to the present.
  • Helen from Oxford, Englandi got this song played on the radio today! love it! And seriously, chas NY... what are you talking about?! Have a read of what scott NJ has said and educate yourself.
  • Tine from Hasselt, BelgiumDavid Gilmour was actually Syd Barretts guitar teacher.
  • Scott from Hillsborough, NjDavid Gilmore joined Pink Floyd around 67 and played with Barrett still in the band. He was a childhood friend of Barrett and Waters and was used to help cope with Barrett's lack of mental capacity. They later decided to not pick up Barrett for practice or shows and just parted ways but Barrett is still a member and being compensated. Waters and Gilmore equally took over as the lead songwriters after Barrett left. So Barrett was never replaced, he just stop playing with them. Waters was never replaced either but it is unnecessary at this point since they have enough money to hire top notch session players. Gilmore also went on to produce Barrett's two solo albums. He also played bass for Barrett when he performed his solo work live.
  • Erik from Lund, SwedenI'll have to correct myself: the quote from the "Ecoes" compilation is a statement from Rick Wright, not Mason.
  • Erik from Lund, Sweden"Arnold Layne" is a name Syd came up with, it just "sounded good" to him, although there was indeed a person stealing women's underwear from washing lines in cambridge around this time.

    Mick Mason stated in the CD folder of the "Echoes" compilation that he has troubles understanding the success of "See Emily Play" since he thinks "Arnold Layne" i "Much better".
  • Nickc from Ft. Wayne, InWaters, Mason, Wright, and Barret were the founding members. Gilmour hooked up with them which allowed them to let Barret go when his drug habits turned him into a drooling mess on stage. Nobody replaced Barret; they just went back to one guitar. When Waters left after the Final Cut and Wright came back, they filled in for him with a variety of other bass players, but no regular band member. So he wasn't really replaced either.
  • Si from London, EnglandNo, Syd Barret was replaced by Dave Gilmour. Waters was an original member.
  • Helen from York, EnglandThere's a Pink Floyd Tribute band called 'The Anderson Council' :)
  • Chas from Webster, NySyd wasn't replaced by Gilmour. he was replaced by waters, and gilmour was in the band. But when Waters took off, gilmour then took place.
  • Lee from Durham, Ncthe first single but later apeared on relics, their first compliation album. Its about a transvestite name arnold layne "arnold layne had a stange hobbie"
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