Whilst things are getting a little quieter on the Floyd front (with Roger's tour now wrapped up, and as yet it is still unconfirmed that he'll be back in Europe next year) we're taking a look at some of the other personalities within the world of Pink Floyd, and today turn our attention to Craig Bailey. Craig is the host of Floydian Slip – a syndicated radio show on 34 stations around the world (and counting).
Floydian Slip has been on the air for over 20 years. Craig was kind enough to take some time out of a busy schedule in his home-state of Vermont recently to answer a few questions and to discuss 'all things Pink Floyd', Freudian Slips, and badminton with Ed Lopez-Reyes...
Ed Lopez Reyes: Craig, how did you get your start on radio?
Craig Bailey: I was fascinated with radio from an early age, and decided to focus on broadcasting when I went to college. So I started doing work at Ithaca College's rock station while I was in school, and doing fill-in work summers at a local station in Barre, Vermont.
The Barre station was a miserable place to work with a cast of sad characters that could've come out of a Harry Chapin song. I was earning minimum wage to work all hours of the day playing country music 45s, but I was thrilled to be on-the-air.
Out of college, I worked in radio full-time as a copywriter, production manager and air person for about five years at a couple of other Vermont stations, before I shifted focus and radio became a part-time thing.
ELR: When was the first time you heard Pink Floyd (can you remember)?
CB: I don't recall hearing the band for the first time, but I remember the first time I heard of it: A cousin of mine was visiting from out-of-state and complained about having to spend time in the sticks of Vermont when he really only wanted to get back to "The Wall." This was right after the album came out. People forget music didn't travel with you like it does today. He was jonesin' to get back to his Floyd LP back home!
I didn't have a clue what he was talking about, and presumed, like many, that Pink Floyd was a person. Sad, I know.
I got into the band seriously when I was in college. A friend from back home passed me a cassette dupe of his "Dark Side" LP and I was hooked. So much for the dangers of music piracy, right? I wish I had the accounting tools to determine how much that illegal cassette has earned EMI over the past 20-plus years.
ELR: The Beatles vs. Pink Floyd: which one is greater?
CB: Come on, seriously? Look, I'm obviously a Floyd fan, but I don't think when they write the history of rock and roll many people would argue any band was more significant to the evolution of rock than The Beatles.
Does that make them "greater?" Debatable.
Let's put it this way: I could have spent the last two decades devoting myself to a show about The Beatles. I chose Floyd instead.
ELR: Barrett, Waters, or Gilmour?
CB: Well, we're in holy war territory here, obviously, and there's no "right" answer. But I can say, for myself, it's Roger's influence that probably drew me to the band.
I've grown to appreciate the psychedelic sound of Syd's work and have nothing against David — though would probably appreciate his work more if I was a guitarist myself — but I think a lot of the things that get stuck in Roger's craw also get stuck in mine.
ELR: What's your favorite Pink Floyd album cover and why?
CB: I'd say "Animals." I mean, what the fuck is it? There's a pig hovering over this massive, imposing piece of industrial architecture. What does it mean? I still don't know, but, like a lot of things I don't really understand, I love it.
Before I became better informed, I didn't even know it was a photograph. I thought it was a painting. You know when I realized the Battersea plant actually existed? When I was taking the train into London in about 1991 and happened to look up and see it. Imagine my surprise. There aren't words.
ELR: Out of all the members in the Pink Floyd universe you've interviewed (e.g., Thorgerson, Jackson, Geesin, Scarfe) whose personality was the most unexpected?
You never know what you're going to get when you set up these kinds of things, but I'd say Ron Geesin was the most unexpected. He was kind of a nut. But, now that I think of it, from hearing "Music from 'The Body'," that shouldn't have been a surprise at all, right?
I was impressed with all of those guys: all very cordial and willing to talk. Maybe the most (unexpected was) Gerald Scarfe. When I got him on the phone I realized his PR person hadn't warned him I'd be calling. He had no idea who I was or why I was calling, but he didn't miss a beat. Very gracious and easy to talk to. I'd give my left arm for a Scarfe caricature of myself. He could draw me as ugly as he wanted, and I'd still kiss him for it. On the lips.
ELR: What did you think of Pink Floyd's Live 8 reunion, which is only three years away from hitting its 10 year anniversary?
CB: Never thought it'd happen. Honestly. I'm still pondering whether I imagined that. And so glad it happened while Rick was still here.
ELR: Do you think there could be another Pink Floyd reunion?
CB: I do, based on what I seem to hear from the band members. There'll never be any kind of substantial tour launched, in my opinion, but I'd be surprised if we didn't see some more Live 8-like reunions here and there for charity and whatnot.
ELR: Do you think surviving members of Pink Floyd have another album - as Pink Floyd - in them?
CB: Do they, collectively, have the material in them to create one or more albums? No doubt. Do they have the motivation and willingness to do it together? Certainly not. I think we'll see more solo output from Roger and David as solo acts, and it wouldn't surprise me if Nick sat in. But a new Pink Floyd album of fresh material? No.
The whole “Why Pink Floyd?” reissue campaign was very encouraging. It proved there is a ton of outtake material lying around, and I understand there's even more, if they wish to collect it and put it out. I think we'll probably see more releases of previously unreleased archival stuff, but not another album of newly recorded material.
ELR: What other bands, besides Pink Floyd do you follow?
CB: For better or worse, I really don't follow current bands much at all. If I'm laying down money for an album — I still buy CDs and rip them to hard-drive — it's probably 30-40 years old.
I have several hundred CDs, but as far as what I listen to? It's probably the 20/80 rule: I likely listen to 20 percent of my collection 80 percent of the time.
Here are some all-time favorites: Supertramp, Genesis, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Al Stewart, Devo, Eagles, ELO, Hall & Oates, James Brown, Loggins and Messina, Mark Almond, Nick Drake, Steely Dan and Billy Joel.
Ben Folds is probably the best artist I've discovered in the last decade. Brilliant.
ELR: What is it about Pink Floyd?
CB: I'm about as puzzled by Pink Floyd as when I first discovered them. Maybe that's it. There's an air of mystery surrounding Floyd that I don't think I'll ever fully penetrate.
ELR: Do your friends and family understand your passion for Pink Floyd?
CB: I have a couple friends who got into the group at the same time I did. We saw them on the Momentary Lapse tour, and have seen Roger solo together a few times, as well as a slew of tribute acts like The Australian Pink Floyd. They get it.
But my fiancé, for example? No. We were in the car one day when the show was playing on WIZN, my Burlington, Vermont, affiliate. We tuned in to the middle of "Echoes," and that was when she confessed she just "didn't get it."
And I'm fine with that. In a strange way, I almost prefer it. It's something I can kind of have to myself, and, contrarily, share with a collection of listeners around the world.
The truth is other people want to make me out as obsessed, but I'm not. I'm certainly focused on the band, take my duties producing and hosting the show very seriously, and am pretty sure I'll be a Floyd fan for life. But to a certain extent, this has become a job. And even if I wanted to stop — and I don't — I couldn't.
I mean, a guy who bakes donuts doesn't have to be obsessed with donuts, does he?
ELR: Your show went from a single station in Vermont to international syndication successfully - quite fast... what do you think this says about the band and Pink Floyd music in general?
CB: I've always said if the show was successful it had little to do with me. People tune into "Floydian Slip" to hear the music. If this was a show devoted to most other bands, it wouldn't be on a single station, much less 30.
There are Floyd fans in every corner of the world. And I think, like a handful of other bands — The Beatles, for example — there will always be fans. Being introduced to Floyd — like The Beatles or the Grateful Dead — is kind of a rite of passage: I don't think many kids will ever get out of college without crossing paths with one, two or all three.
ELR: Is conglomeration in the radio industry going to make it more difficult for young people to discover Floyd the way many of us did in the past, when stations really catered to different tastes?
CB: I think Floyd, long ago, reached the type of critical mass that no matter what happens in the radio or music industry, its place is secure. It's unfortunate that deep album cuts — by Floyd or any group — rarely get played on commercial radio. Wish I could say I think that'll turn around anytime soon.
Internet radio might be the hope. I don't think a lot of netcasters are getting rich off their efforts — I know the feeling — but there seems to be a lot more opportunity to be a lot more adventurous in online programming than over-the-air.
That's another reason my hat's off to all my affiliate stations — especially commercial FMs: They took a chance to step outside the norm.
ELR: I've been a Floydian Slip fan for years and notice you maintain a very Floyd-like (almost an English-like) quiet dignity and profile: as your show has become internationally known, are more fans reaching out to you with questions and requests?
CB: Oddly, no. I was on a stand-alone FM station for 13 years — in Vermont, of all places! — and feel like I got just as much feedback from listeners then as I do now I've syndicated the show to 34 stations.
I think longevity counts for something. I syndicated in 2009, so none of my current stations have carried the show more than a couple years — and many stations, much less.
ELR: What's the strangest email or question you've ever received from a fan?
CB: I once had a listener provide me with a numerical analysis of my history of airing the song "Pigs (Three Different Ones)," and its relation to "Floydian Slip" episode numbers that included the number 3. I should have told him it was just a coincidence, but I think I suggested he was clearly onto something and should keep digging and let me know what he finds.
I get a lot of people get in touch because they think I am Pink Floyd — or, at least, some official branch of the band.
I recently heard from one of the writers of two huge Broadway hits, who's also done work with "South Park." He wanted to get Roger together with Matt and Trey when Roger took "The Wall" to New York. Hated to break the news that Roger wasn't in my Rolodex.
ELR: What do you think of Roger Waters' 'The Wall Live'?
CB: I saw it in Montreal. Wouldn't have missed it. Normally I would have tempered my expectations so I wouldn't be disappointed. But I'd heard so many great things about it my expectations were very (very) high, so the show had a hard time meeting them.
That said: what a treat that people like me who missed the show the first time around could see it again 30 years later. Thank you, Roger!
ELR: 'PULSE' or 'Delicate Sound of Thunder'?
CB: "Pulse." If only for "Dark Side" in its entirety. And the blinking light.
ELR: What is your favorite Floyd album?
CB: That's kind of like picking your favorite child: something you just don't do. Or, at least, don't admit publicly.
I like to say I don't have a favorite album, but do have a favorite period in the band's history: "Dark Side" through "The Final Cut."
But if you held my feet to the fire, I suppose I'd say "Dark Side."
ELR: What is your favorite Floyd song?
CB: Likewise, a pretty difficult choice. "Time" from "Dark Side" might suit the bill: Extraordinary lyrics along with amazing performance and production. Roger wrote the lyrics for "Dark Side" when he was in his 20s. Tell me he wasn't a little ahead of his time.
ELR: What are your favorite Floyd lyrics?
CB: "Heavy hung the canopy of blue. Shade my eyes and I can see you" from "Green Is the Colour." I'm not sure why. It's kind of like a haiku: So simple and brief, but it paints an entire picture and creates a strong mood. For me, at least.
ELR: Can you describe the 'Floydian Slip-Up'?
CB: Once a week or so I'll play a song that's not by Pink Floyd but that has some type of connection. It could be a cover by another band, a song with a Floyd member sitting in, or something much more esoteric.
ELR: What is the strangest 'Floydian Slip-Up' you've played?
CB: There've been many! "The Universal" by Small Faces might have been the strangest Floyd connection: I theorize the dog you hear barking in the background of that song, recorded in Steve Marriott's yard, is likely Seamus the "singing" dog from the song on "Meddle." Seems to make sense: it was recorded about the same time, and Seamus is known to have belonged to Marriott.
ELR: Is there a 'Floydian Slip-Up' you've refused to play despite a connection to the band?
CB: Oh, sure, all the time. David, especially, has been pretty prolific as far as sitting in with other artists, and a lot of them just don't naturally jibe with the Floyd sound.
As long as there's a Floyd connection, I feel justified in playing it. But, in reality, I'd like to play a track that your average Floyd fan might enjoy, and as my network's grown I have to keep in mind some stations' feelings toward my playing something that might be way off format. So some deep album cut from another band from the same genre is usually what I aim for.
I've been toying with a new feature similar to the Slip-Up I'd call "Six Degrees of Floyd," which would be a track with six degrees of separation from Floyd. Pretty much an excuse to play whatever the hell I want! But you'd be surprised how hard it is to connect two bands with exactly six degrees if you're fussy about where you want to end up.
ELR: The Urban Dictionary has three definitions for Floydian Slip:
(1) When you accidentally say something that turns out to be a lyric from a Pink Floyd song.
(2) When someone inadvertently reveals through a conversational error drug habits or connections that were meant to be suppressed, often by substitution of a drug reference for a different word or phrase.
(3) Accidentally writing/improvising a riff that sounds similar or exactly the same as a Pink Floyd song.
Which one is correct?
CB: I like #1. Funny thing: I can hardly use the phrase "Freudian slip" anymore. It usually comes out "Floydian slip." Do you think that's a Floydian slip? Or a Freudian slip?
ELR: What are your thoughts on 'A Momentary Lapse of Reason'?
CB: Real significant in context of a band that was recovering from losing Roger and wondering how and if it was going to go forward. (Check out the interview on the VHS "Pink Floyd's David Gilmour" concert from around '84. Pretty obvious David was starting to see himself as a solo act.)
My lesser favorite of the two post-Roger studio albums for Floyd. You really needed to get Rick back in there to give it that keyboard sound "The Division Bell" has.
ELR: Do you know what happened to the cow on 'Atom Heart Mother'?
CB: I hope she lived a long life on a pleasant English farm before quietly passing in her sleep at a ripe old age, but I have no idea. How old do cows live? Maybe she's still around. Now that would be an interview..!
ELR: What is your most burning question for a specific member of Pink Floyd, if you could ask?
CB: That's a conundrum: What hasn't already been asked (a hundred times) of any member of Pink Floyd?
I remember seeing an interview with John Cleese, who seemed to regret he'd spent his life doing sketch comedy and films — that maybe he should've got into something of a higher calling, like psychology.
I might ask something along the lines of: Any regrets? You've spent most of your life as the member of a rock band. You've been enormously successful and played a significant role in the evolution of popular music and culture. But if you had it to do over again, would you? Bottom line: Has all this made you happy?
ELR: Do you think Pink Floyd's sense of humor goes over most people's heads?
CB: Sure, I think that a group as enigmatic as Floyd would have a sense of humor probably comes as such as shock that a lot of people just don't see it.
ELR: Any thoughts on Bob Klose?
CB: Here's my primary thought: He should have stuck with the band.
ELR: You've stated you'd rather 'chew glass' than watch the Super Bowl. Any thoughts on badminton?
CB: Clearly you pay too much attention to the crap I post online. I only recently realized badminton was a spectator sport. But, no, I wouldn't have much of an interest in watching. Especially if the sissies aren't even gonna try to win.