See Emily Play

Album: Relics (1967)
Charted: 6


  • Syd Barrett wrote this. One of the band's original members, he was the group's leader until he lost his mind. He did a lot of acid and became very unpredictable, sometimes refusing to play at shows. His band mates kicked him out in 1968.
  • Barrett claimed "Emily" was a girl he saw when he woke up one night after sleeping in the woods after a gig. It is unclear if she was a real person or a drug-induced hallucination.
  • This was Pink Floyd's second single. Their first was "Arnold Layne."
  • Barrett did the slide guitar work on this song with a Zippo lighter (he used it as a slide, not to set the guitar on fire). >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Steve - Laconia, NH
  • David Gilmour was asked by the members of Pink Floyd to join the band to supplement the guitar work of the increasingly erratic Syd Barrett. For a brief time, Syd and David were both members of Pink Floyd at the same time. When Barrett's mental breakdown made it impossible for him to continue with the group, Gilmour became a permanent, contributing member in time for their second album, 1968's A Saucerful of Secrets. Syd Barrett contributed one track to that album, his last with Pink Floyd. Syd departed the band soon after that. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Joel - Chicago, IL
  • The original title was "Games For May." They performed it live a few times before changing it.
  • This is an example of the psychedelic sound Pink Floyd was known for. Over the next few years, they tried to lose the psychedelic image because they wanted people to know there was much more to their music.
  • This was included on the 2001 Pink Floyd retrospective album, Echoes. The tracks flow seamlessly together.
  • The song was inspired in part by 15-year-old schoolgirl Emily Young, who was the daughter of Wayland Young, 2nd Baron Kennet. She recalled to Mojo:

    "On Friday night at the Saints Hall, the regular band was the Pink Floyd Sound. I was more into R&B, so their dreamy hippie thing wasn't exactly my cup of tea, but it was interesting. And the light show was wonderful, and I liked to get stoned and dance. After playing, we'd sit around on grey sofas and pass around joints. I was quite pretty and word got out that I was a lord's daughter, and apparently the guys in the band called me the 'psychedelic schoolgirl.'"

    "See Emily Play" began life as a Syd Barrett song written for Pink Floyd's concert-cum-happening Games For May at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on May 12, 1967. Emily missed the event but someone told her all about it. She recalled: "I thought, gosh, that's nice, a song with my name, but I didn't think it was about me. And I don't think it was now because Syd and me didn't have a love affair and he didn't really know me. It could have been some other girl who played a part in his dream. It could have been Jenny, but Emily scanned better."

Comments: 54

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 16, 1967, Pink Floyd performed "See Emily Play" on the Dick Clark ABC-TV weekday-afternoon program, 'American Bandstand'...
    Six months earlier on July 26th, 1967 the song peaked at #6 {for 1 week} on the United Kingdom's Singles chart...
    It was track one of side one on the group's U.S. debut album, 'The Piper at the Gates of Dawn', the album peaked at #131 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
    It was their first of two Top 10 records on the UK Singles chart, the other one was "Another Brick in the Wall", it peaked at #1 {for 4 weeks} on December 19th, 1979.
  • Kody Yardley from Salt Lake City, UtTo Zero, that's not a harpsichord or a sitar. It's a piano and a guitar sped up to twice speed. This is accomplished by recording at half speed then turning the tape back to normal speed. If you take the record and put it into a DAW and half speed it you can hear that section as it was recorded, it's quite interesting.
  • Espinada from Magdalena, NmIt could very well be that Syd may have had some subtle kind mental illness, and the LSD he had been taking took him over the edge. Many true geniuses have been considered a bit "crazy", or showed signs of unconventional behavior. Take musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Little Richard, and Jim Morrison, all who had been considered wild, unconventional, and at the same time creative geniuses. However, as someone mentioned earlier in the thread - Syd was never actually diagnosed that we know of, so any statements made about his mental state is nothing more than speculation, albeit some may be educated guesses at best.
  • Zero from Nowhere, NjTo reply to Matthew, Downers Grove comment from a while back -- the instrument you hear is called a harpsichord, which looks a lot like a "miniature piano" and is actually built a lot like one, but the keys operate levers that pluck strings lightly rather than strike them (like a piano would do). Incidentally, my friend thinks its a sitar, but he's kind of obsessed with sitars...
  • Brett from Avon Park , FlI swear the horn after the piano trip reminds me of the war drums from Lord of the Rings Movies
  • Mike from Little Rodk, ArIt's about sculptor Emily Young, according to a book about the group. She did artwork for several of the band's album covers.
  • Hope from Watertown, NyI take it back, thought about it, if Gilmore and Waters and the lads paid respect and hommage to Syd in later years there has to be something to it. Researched and listened to lots good quality recordings, I get it now.
  • Hope from Watertown, NyI mean no disrespect but I think Syd was off his rocker the whole time, this is just garbage, Astronomy Domine is the only bright spot. Things happen for a reason, I highly doubt that Pink Floyd would have evolved into what they became had Syd remained.
  • Ryan from Cincinnati, OhSyd BArret was not schizophrenic or another acid casultie. He was never diagnosed with it mental health doctors would just like to say he was so they can raise money for their cause easily.

    He is just someone who kind of went insane something with in him who is much deeper. The acid probably accelerated whatever it was. We will probably never understand him.
  • Chloe from St. Louis, Moi really dont think emily was one person particularly, but i dont think she was made up, either. syd said that she was just a "hung up chick"- a sort of representation of all the girls who like to live in the moment, who have no dreams of their own but simply take whatever comes.
  • Tristan from Philadelphia, PaSyd didn't have aspergers, he became schizophrenic. Some may say that the drugs didn't make him schizophrenic, that they acted as a catalyst bringing out something that was already there. This may be true but without all the acid Syd would not have fallen as hard as he did, and he certainly would have had a few more years of great music. Of course some argue that without drugs he never would have made music in the first place but if he kept it under control he could've had the best of both worlds.
  • Jim from Johnsonburg, NyLove the song (the Bowie version is horrible.) Every book or article I've read indicates there were several possible female inspirations for "Emily" but as Syd never really confirmed anything (except for his clearly playful fiction of seeing a girl after waking up in the woods) Emily will always remain a mystery. To me, Emily is simply a very poetic name chosen to fit the lyrical tone and feel of this lovely bit of Victorian psychedelia. In true poetic fashion, Syd always seemed to chose his words more for sound and effect than actual meaning. Shine on, Syd!
  • Martin from Rostock, GermanyWhit,

    "Barrett died on Friday 7 July 2006 at his home in Cambridge. He died of pancreatic cancer, but this was usually reported as "complications from diabetes." The occupation on his death certificate was given as "retired musician.""

    from wikipedia
  • Whit from Sunshine City,Bill man,
    Syd Barret still breathes.
  • Bill from Erie, PaFloyd keyboardist Rick Wright brought the main riff from this back for "Shine On You Crazy Diamond"- it's on Part IX at the very end, fading out into the distance. I suppose he thought it would be a good touch to include some of Syd's music on the song that paid tribute to him.
  • William from Deal, United KingdomHave a look on You-Tube, theres a vid of the Tellytubbies dancing and this track playing. The two go really well together !!!!
  • N from Staten Island, NySo Emily was a real person? I doubt it very much. Anyway she'd be a 50-something today, not some cute little brit teenager. Makes ya feel old doesn't it.
  • Rob from Southend, Englandthis song is amazing, but iagree, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn should be up, i mean FLaming is an amazing song.
    Also people should not forget his work after Floyd like MAdcap Laughs which is also amazing
  • Robert from Chicago, IlThis song replaced "Astronomy Domine" on the US vinyl configuration of "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" on Tower (Capitol Records' sub-label) as well as Arnold Layne. Both songs were mixed in "fake stereo" like the Beatles US albums prior to 1967. They no longer appear on the CD release but are on "Echoes" and "Relics".
  • Sorcha from Perth, Wapeople pelase. see emily play was not about an acid trip get that into your minds there was a real girl called emily. there are pictures of her. yes, real ones.
  • Madalyn from Greensburg, Pai think this song is about a autistic girl named emily and how she has no dreams so she borrows her parents dreams...and how she lives for everyday and she lives in the moment...and how she loses her mind having fun with a girl named may? (emily helps may have fun and lose her mind for a moment?) and that emily is interesting to watch as she plays...later it explains how she is scared of the dark...and maybe she got ditracted and got lost in the woods...and she decides there is no imeadiate danger so she keeps quiet untill the next day...then she grows up to put on a gown that touches the ground and she lives on a boat...
  • Patrick from Chicago, IlSyd's only song on A Saucerful of Secrets was Jugband Blues incase song facts didn't now that.
  • Tim Smith from Chesterfield, EnglandDeepPhreeze, I think you will find they are playing Cricket in the video. We do not play Baseball.
  • Alex from Fort Mill, ScAlong with Lucifer Sam this is probably my favorite Barrett-era song. You can find some interesting home/music video bootlegs from the swinging London days on some P2P networks. Oh, and you're right Bill, damn you diabetes!
  • Bill from Erie, PaJust heard that Syd Barrett died. Shine on, Syd- may the pigs on the wing carry you up to the great gig in the sky.
  • Bill from Somewhere, CaDeepPhreeze from Irvine, umm ya...then whos that guy playing the guitar? Syd wasn't in the video. That was Rick Wright hitting the guys, you can tell because one guy is playing the bass, Roger Waters, Nick Mason is pretending to play the drums, David Gilmour is playing the guitar, there were no keyboards/paino in the video.
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesIf Barrett was autistic, it's quite possible that his mental illness was caused by well-meaning psychiatric intervention as a child. You can look this up at Autistic children are still brutalized in "therapy". I wouldn't doubt that this happened to Barrett back then.
  • Tyler from Brantford, Canada""i think the name emily is a reference to aunt em. who is in the wizard of oz. aunt ems full first name is emily."" No. You are Wrong.
  • Matt from Brisbane, Australia"sounds like the beatles"

    - Ha! Not even buddy.
  • Pink from Dallas, Tx
    Syd Barrett's drug did not help the fact the was suffering from mental illness. It was not just his drug use which led to his instability. It has been suggested that he has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of Autism, owing to certain traits in his behaviour.

    It was a tragic thing for the band. The entire Wish You Were Here album is a tribute to Syd Barrett.. get it? 'Wish You Were Here'

  • Jeremy from Warren , RiAwesome tune, but check out Bowie's version, 100 times better!
  • Phil from Niagara Falls, Canadathis is a good early pink floyd song, it proves to their psydalecity (made up word i know) and it does sound like the beatles:o
  • Stump from Gulf Shores, AlWow its nice to see how uniform everyones view on this song!
  • Anthony from Beverly, Njsounds like the beatles
  • Steve from Lansdale, PaThis is one of my favorite Floyd songs - just very orinal, and it really rocks. I came to this song very late in the game, having been weaned on brick in the wall as a kid, but the first time i heard it in the late '80's i was totally blown away, and still love it.
  • Helen from Oxford, Englandi reckon this site should have some songs off Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Lucifer Sam is the best. Ash, you are a legend.
  • Ash from Charleston, WvAsh, you are so full of it! Everybody knows this song is about a real girl named "Emily."
  • Ash from Charleston, WvYes it was about an acid trip! I was there, man.
  • Mac from Newport, Englandget real guys
    great 60s track from a band that was to become awesome
    arnold layne was a far better example of mid 60s alternave stuff but Ed Stewpot was worried by the lyrics!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Helen from Oxford, EnglandSee Emily Play isn't about (or because of) an acid trip. Syd just said it was for the publicity. It's about a girl he had shared spliffs with.
  • Wes from Springfield, VaThis may seem like heresy, but I prefer the David Bowie version on "Pin-Ups."
  • Matthew from Downers Grove, IlDefintely in my top 5 favorite Floyd songs. I love the part after the first verse with what sounds like-- a miniature piano?? Aunt Em... thats a little far-fetched, and believe me, i know far-fetched.
  • Andrew from TorontoThis song is not about an imaginary girl or lsd trip but based on a real girl named Emily see Mojo article "The real Emily"for more info.Great song.Floyd never been popier than this.Very much a tune of the time but brilliant never the less.
  • Maya from San Francisco-ish, Ca"See Emily Play" is the exact same length as "Arnold Layne" (2:52).
  • Helen from Oxford, Englandyea it must be about Aunt em from the wizard of Oz. That must be it.... WHAT?!?!
  • Matthew from Germantown, MdThis wa sthe last song on the US release of Piper at the Gates of Dawn. It is put in instead of Bike (Which was on the UK Release). Good song. One of the more conventional song compositions (Chorus, bridges etc..)
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaThe most coherent song Syd ever wrote. It was a hit by a fluke, but things fell apart when the group hit the limelight (Syd was taking so much drugs and all, and most of his other songs were absolutely weird, in a much different vein). When he left, the group had already gotten a foot in the music industry and had to learn to write songs themselves. Their next few albums were dismally bland, and it was almost six years before they had worked up to 'Dark Side of the Moon' which was more characteristic of their actual sound.
  • Kent Lyle from Palo Alto, CaDuring this time, the band's live music consisted primarily of extended unstructured jams. When "See Emily Play" became popular, it became a huge problem for the band, because they were unable to play it live.
  • Erik from Lund, SwedenSyd stated he had indeed fallen asleep in the woods and when he awoke, this girl he named Emily was standing there, but as far as I know, all the band members thought this was really the result of an acid trip.

    "Games of May" was sort of a festival where the band had performed, if I'm not mistaken, they even did it for free, hence the lyrics.

    Even though "Arnold Layne" was their first single, "Emily" was the one which really put them in the spotlight.

    Also, in the video they are playing imaginary cricket, not baseball.
  • Deepphreeze from Irvine, CaHe met this "Emily" girl several times at a club and introduced her to his friends. She apparently was one of the first 'ravers', and used MDMA.

    The video shows them playing imaginary baseball, with Syd as a ringleader of a sort. He goes around tapping them on the shoulders and they start playing their respective instruments, and quickly resort to pretending to play baseball, using guitars as baseball bats and hats as mitts.
  • Gill from Parlin, Nji think the name emily is a reference to aunt em. who is in the wizard of oz. aunt ems full first name is emily.
  • Brooks from Vero Beach, FlIt's also on "Relics". If you don't have that album, get it. As far as Pink Floyd goes, it's second only to Dark Side of the Moon.
  • James from Sudbury, Canadathis is NOT in fact a hallucination syd had, in fact if you look hard enough you can find a picture of an article about syd's emily.
  • Lee from Durham, NcSee emily play is about one of syds acid trips. Its their second single before the release of thier first offical album "piper at the gates at dawn"
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