You're Gonna Miss Me

The sound of the opening four chords feels like looking into the eyes of infinity. They come out of nowhere, promising everlasting life. All in under three seconds. Nothing had prepared 1966 for such freedom from an Austin five-piece. After that, the 13th Floor Elevators' "You're Gonna Miss Me" blasts into the stratosphere with an authoritative John Ike Walton snare shot, a mad rush of rhythm, and my God, Tommy Hall's jug! What in the name of holy hell is that? It sounds like someone from another sphere speaking a secret language, and after 36 years of studying it, damned if they weren't. There's never been a near-hit single with such an ominous opening, offering the perfect setup for the wildest rock & roll voice this side of Little Richard: Mr. Roky Erickson. He introduces himself with a scream -- "Awwwwww yeah" -- and proceeds to obliterate any preconceptions anyone has about how far out a singer can swing. Erickson sounds genuinely threatening ("I gave you the warning, but you never heeded it"), while guitarist Stacy Sutherland's snarling lead lines carry the dark implications of a pulled pistol. If that isn't enough, we're treated to the terrifying howl of bassist Benny Thurman, something he used to do onstage right before his mind left his body. Another verse, a shivering mess of orgasmic shrieks, then the nervous breakdown of a harmonica solo as paradise catches fire and burns to the ground, gone forever now. Amen.

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