Essays and rock & roll. Looking and listening. Nostalgia versus skepticism. Sound and sense.
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Something in the air
13th Floor Elevators
It's highly unlikely that John Lennon heard 13th Floor Elevators' version of the Beatles' "The Word," captured live at the Avalon in San Francisco in September 1966 as Lennon's band was winding down their touring career. Had he somehow, I imagine he would've been studiously cool toward it, and then dismissed it; he wore an infamous superiority complex over a host of crippling anxieties. After Roky Erickson's recent death, I've been revisiting his first band's stunning output, especially digging the '66 show, released officially in 2009 on the Sign Of The 3 Eyed Men box set. The Elevators' take on "The Word," a tune sung and mostly written by Lennon, is slower than the the original, the Beatles' proto-flower power vibe funked-up into something grungier and much louder. I love its soulful grind and churn, and Roky's Yoko Ono-like wailing and screeching near the close, something Lennon, eventually, would come to dig. As the story goes, John met Yoko in the Indica Gallery in London a couple months after the Elevators let loose this version. Something in the air.