Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Spooktober Edition” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!
“Careful with That Axe, Eugene” By Pink Floyd, Album: Ummagumma (1969)
“Careful with That Axe, Eugene” is the kind of song title that stays with you: unique, portentous, darkly humorous, and equally mysterious. You recall that soft, swirling organ build, that persistent D on the bass, tinkled percussion, and sparing guitar stings. Then Roger Waters whispers those nonsensical words, whistles into the mic, and delivers a pre-emptive yet lightweight scream. The net effect unsettles you. There is menace in the air, an as-yet-undefined threat, but the music lulls and entices you into a near-soporific state. It doesn’t last.
Naturally, the second Waters lets out that full-bodied scream. (For full effect, scan to 3:06 on their version from Live at Pompeii.) The screams continue for 20 odd seconds, exorcised by an intense band jam, led by David Gilmour’s cutting guitar until the music dies away in a retreat to the darkness from whence it came. Eugene may have been no ordinary axe murderer, but then again, how would “Careful with That Axe, David” have sounded?
This was released as the B-side of the single, “Point Me At The Sky.” The title is a reference to the first line of that song: “Hey, Eugene, this is Henry McClean.”
Ummagumma was a double album, with one disc of live performances and the other record divided into four sections devoted to songs by each band member. This track appears on the first disc as a live version.