Arnold Layne

"Arnold Layne" is the debut single released by the English rock band Pink Floyd on 10 March 1967, written by Syd Barrett.[3]

"Arnold Layne"
Sleeve for UK promotional release; the UK retail single used a generic company sleeve
Single by The Pink Floyd
B-side"Candy and a Currant Bun"
Released10 March 1967 (1967-03-10)
Recorded29 January 1967 – 27 February 1967
StudioSound Techniques and EMI Studios, London
LabelEMI Columbia
Songwriter(s)Syd Barrett
Producer(s)Joe Boyd
The Pink Floyd singles chronology
"Arnold Layne"
"See Emily Play"


The song's title character is a transvestite whose strange hobby is stealing women's clothes and undergarments from washing lines.[4] According to Roger Waters, "Arnold Layne" was actually based on a real person: "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."[5]

Recording and productionEdit

In January, Pink Floyd went to Sound Techniques studio in Chelsea[6] (they had been there previously, to record two songs for Tonite Let's All Make Love in London).[7] Here, the band recorded "Arnold Layne"[6][8] and a few other songs: "Matilda Mother", "Chapter 24", "Interstellar Overdrive"[8] and "Let's Roll Another One" (which was renamed to "Candy and a Currant Bun", at the lead of Waters).[8]

Nick Mason said of why "Arnold Layne" was chosen over the other songs: "We knew we wanted to be rock'n'roll stars and we wanted to make singles, so it seemed the most suitable song to condense into 3 minutes without losing too much". [8] The band had tried to re-record "Arnold Layne" after signing up with EMI, but the Joe Boyd version from January was released instead. [8] The song would be Boyd's last production for Pink Floyd. [9]

Boyd mentioned in several interviews over the years that "Arnold Layne" regularly ran for ten to fifteen minutes in concert (with extended instrumental passages), but the band knew that it had to be shortened for use as a single.[citation needed] He has also said it was a complex recording involving some tricky editing, recalling that the middle instrumental section with Richard Wright's organ solo was recorded as an edit piece and spliced into the song for the final mix.[citation needed]

Both "Arnold Layne" and "Candy and a Currant Bun" were mixed into mono for the single. Neither have ever been given a stereo mix, although the four-track master tapes still exist in the EMI tape archive.[citation needed]

Music videosEdit

A black and white promotional film of "Arnold Layne" was made in late February 1967, directed by Derek Nice and featuring members of Pink Floyd dressing up a mannequin before showing it around a beach in East Wittering, West Sussex.[10] This promo, made for £2,000,[10] was meant to be screened on 3 April 1967 for the BBC's Top of the Pops show, but cancelled when the single dropped down the chart.[11] Another promotional film was recorded for the song, this time filmed on 29 April near St Michael's Church in Highgate.[12] It is the only known footage of Barrett lip-synching to the song. It was shot in the spring of 1967, around the time that his mental deterioration began.


The single was released on 10 March 1967 in the UK, backed by "Candy and a Currant Bun".[13] The band is credited as "The Pink Floyd" on the single, though the determiner the would be dropped for subsequent releases. The band's management, Blackhill Enterprises, had paid to boost the single's chart position,[14] as manager Andrew King stated: "We spent a couple of hundred quid, [...] trying to buy it into the charts. The management did that, not EMI."[15] However, despite reaching number 20 in the UK singles chart,[16] the song's unusual transvestism theme attracted the ire of pirate radio station Radio London, which deemed the song was too far removed from "normal" society for its listeners, before eventually banning it from radio airplay altogether.[8][17][18]

The song later appeared on the budget 1971 compilation album Relics, their 1983 compilation album Works and their 2001 retrospective best-of, Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd.[19] Both sides of the single appear on the first volume 1965–1967: Cambridge St/ation in the 2016 Early Years box set, and on a replica seven inch single also included in the set.

Track listingEdit

All tracks written by Syd Barrett, excluding Interstellar Overdrive which was written by Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Rick Wright. and Nick Mason.

1967 singleEdit

1."Arnold Layne"2:57
2."Candy and a Currant Bun"2:38
Total length:5:35

1967 French EPEdit

1."Arnold Layne"2:54
2."Candy and a Currant Bun"2:45
3."Interstellar Overdrive" (edit)5:00
Total length:10:39


David Gilmour versionEdit

"Arnold Layne"
Single by David Gilmour
from the album Remember That Night
B-side"Dark Globe"
Released26 December 2006
Recorded29 May 2006 at Royal Albert Hall, London (track 1); 30 May 2006 at Royal Albert Hall (track 2); 27 July 2006 at Klam Castle, Austria (track 3).
Length3:30 (with David Bowie)
3:23 (with Richard Wright)
Songwriter(s)Syd Barrett
Producer(s)David Gilmour
David Gilmour singles chronology
"Arnold Layne"
"Rattle That Lock"

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

On 26 December 2006, 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 No. 19 on the UK singles chart.[20] 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 one and Wright's version as a bonus on disc two).

Track listingEdit

All tracks written by Syd Barrett.

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


Pink Floyd 2007 performanceEdit

On 10 May 2007, Pink Floyd, featuring Gilmour, Mason and Wright performed for what was to be Wright's and the band's final live performance, at The Barbican, London, for The Madcap's Last Laugh, a tribute show for Syd Barrett organised by Joe Boyd. At the end of the show, they were introduced as surprise guests and Wright sang his band's first single one final time. This also saw the final performance by Pink Floyd with Gilmour now concentrating on his solo career, Mason on his motor racing, while Wright died in September 2008.

Other versionsEdit

Robyn Hitchcock covered the song on his 2020 album The Man Downstairs: Demos & Rarities.[21][22]


  1. ^ "30 Wild David Bowie Duets and Collaborations > David Gilmour, "Arnold Layne" (2006)". Rolling Stone. 11 January 2016. Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  2. ^ Alan Di Perna; Jeff Kitts; Brad Tolinski (2002). Guitar World Presents Pink Floyd. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-634-03286-8.
  3. ^ Hugh Fielder (2 October 2013). Pink Floyd: Behind the Wall. MBI Publishing Company. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-937994-25-9.
  4. ^ "Barrett's spirit lives on in Pete Doherty". The Telegraph. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  5. ^ Miles, Barry (12 December 2011). Pink Floyd: The Early Years. Omnibus Press. ISBN 9781846094446.
  6. ^ a b Chapman, Rob (2010). Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head (Paperback ed.). London: Faber. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-571-23855-2.
  7. ^ Manning, Toby (2006). The Rough Guide to Pink Floyd (1st ed.). London: Rough Guides. p. 31. ISBN 1-84353-575-0.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Manning, Toby (2006). The Rough Guide to Pink Floyd (1st ed.). London: Rough Guides. p. 32. ISBN 1-84353-575-0.
  9. ^ Cavanagh, John (2003). The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. New York [u.a.]: Continuum. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-8264-1497-7.
  10. ^ a b Palacios, Julian (2010). Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe (Rev. ed.). London: Plexus. pp. 191–192. ISBN 978-0-85965-431-9.
  11. ^ Palacios, Julian (2010). Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe (Rev. ed.). London: Plexus. p. 201. ISBN 978-0-85965-431-9.
  12. ^ Palacios, Julian (2010). Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe (Rev. ed.). London: Plexus. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-85965-431-9.
  13. ^ Palacios, Julian (2010). Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe (Rev. ed.). London: Plexus. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-85965-431-9.
  14. ^ Palacios, Julian (2010). Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe (Rev. ed.). London: Plexus. p. 193. ISBN 978-0-85965-431-9.
  15. ^ Cavanagh, John (2003). The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. New York [u.a.]: Continuum. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-8264-1497-7.
  16. ^ "PINK FLOYD | Artist". Official Charts. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  17. ^ Gilmour to release Barrett single
  18. ^ Chapman, Rob (2010). Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head (Paperback ed.). London: Faber. pp. 141–142. ISBN 978-0-571-23855-2.
  19. ^ "Echoes: the album credits". Pink Floyd. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  20. ^ "David Gilmour | Artist". Official Charts. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  21. ^ Bill Pearis (7 August 2020). "Robyn Hitchcock covers Nick Drake, Pink Floyd on new rarities album for Bandcamp Friday". Brooklyn Vegan. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  22. ^ Darryl Sterdan (7 August 2020). "Reviews: Robyn Hitchcock, The Man Downstairs: Demos & Rarities". Tinnitist. Retrieved 10 August 2020.