Wednesday, September 19, 2007

False Gods Will Bring the Devil the Blues

Recently my music blogger acquaintances Anandamide and Peecat were asking each other whether any worthwhile late career albums have been made by artists whose career spans ten years or more. Byron Coley makes a strong case for the enduring quality of Roky Erickson's music in the documentary film You're Gonna Miss Me, which is now available on DVD. Roky hasn't released any new material in twenty years, but his 1986 album Don't Slander Me is as strong a collection of songs as anything I've heard from the late 1960's heyday of the 13th Floor Elevators. Roky's extraordinary voice is in fine form on the album's title track.

You're Gonna Miss Me begins with Roky's brother Sumner becoming Roky's guardian and removing Roky from their mother's influence. By the end of the film, Roky has regained his legal capacity and has returned to the concert stage. Sumner declares in a postscript that there is "no such thing" as schizophrenia or mental illness. One may reasonably conclude that Roky was misdiagnosed and mistreated, but it is a mistake to generalize from his experience that the entire mental health system is a house of cards.

You're Gonna Miss Me ends with a lingering shot of Roky compulsively licking and pursing his lips in the courtroom after his independence is granted; the shot suggests that the filmmakers themselves doubt Sumner's conviction. The interviews with the Ericksons' mother (and the inclusion of her short films, poems, and pictures) may lead the viewer to conclude that she suffered from depression. And it is ironic that Sumner first sought to get Roky to take psychotropic medications, but Sumner later comes to share his mother's distrust of psychiatry.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Instead of Confidence, I've Got Needs

The blog days of August are over. The kids are back to school, so us grown folks can settle into a schedule again. August was not a great month among many of the music bloggers whose sites I read: Neal pulled the plug on Blank Crisis; the online magazine Stylus deleted their Stypod feature; and three of my old favorites, Vinyl Mine, Mars Needs Guitars, and Something I Learned Today, took the month off.

Worser still, Reverend Frost was evicted; Big Rock Candy Mountain was hijacked; and Frank at That Truncheon Thing was literally robbed. Welcome, September; farewell to Blaugust. This month has got to be better than the last! Here are two harmonious songs that I am listening to a lot lately:

Icecream Hands: Rain Hail Shine
Number One Cup: Maybe There's a Thread

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I'll Buy

A book entitled The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting will be published in November, according to this article. Author Jim Walsh chose to write the book as an oral history, in the style of Please Kill Me. It was as much a necessity as a stylistic choice, since none of the Replacements can read.

Just kidding! I love me some rock books, and I love me them Replacements, so I will definitely buy the book when it comes out. I just got John Lydon: Stories of Johnny, and I recently read the Kim Cooper's book In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (from the 33 1/3 series). Here's the original version of a song that the Replacements performed on When the Shit Hits the Fans.

Vertebrats: Left Here in the Dark