The 13th Floor Elevators

2 06 2008

The 13th Floor ElevatorsThe Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators
1966 – International Artists

The first track of this album made me realize something: I know nothing about music.

“You’re Gonna Miss Me” appears in the opening scene of one my favorite movies, High Fidelity. John Cusack gives a monologue about pop music and whether it’s the music that makes people miserable or simply that people predisposed to misery tend to listen to pop music. At the end, he cranks his stereo, which is playing this song, and yells out the window at his ex-girlfriend. I bought the soundtrack to the movie as soon as it came out, and for some reason, I always thought “You’re Gonna Miss Me” was a Kinks song. I know.

Now that I listen to the song again, I don’t know how I could have thought that (or at least how I could have continued to think that up until about 30 minutes ago).

The 13th Floor Elevators were around from about 1965 to 1968 and were based out of Austin, Texas. Their lead songwriter, singer, and guitar player was Roky Erikson, who, again, I knew was an important musician but had never figured out that he was in this band. According to wikipedia, the most distinctive thing about the 13FE’s sound was the sounds of the electric jug, as played by Tommy Hall. I still find this sound mystifying even after learning what it was. How is he playing it? Is he blowing it? Hitting it? What?

The album itself isn’t as “psychedelic” as I would have thought, given both the album cover and the album’s reputation as one of the great psychedelic masterpieces of all time. I guess it’s because I wasn’t around when the psychedelic scene was happening, but I tend to think of things like sitar and 18-minute songs when I think of psychedelia. It was a surprise to look at the track listing for The Psychedelic Sounds… and see 21 tracks, most around 3:00 minutes long. It was another surprise to hear how structured they were. To me, this sounded like 60s rock ‘n roll, not what I conceived of as 60s psychedelic music. All this is to say, I liked this album a lot more than I thought I was going to

Also Listened:
The Coup – Party Music
Levon Helm – Dirt Farmer
A bunch of dub on last.fm
Teenage Head and Marky Ramone – LIVE (as in, saw them live)