Reviews were never the intention of the Highland Cinema. What came to mind, now that was the intention. So here's a few thoughts I had during this one:
(1) There's no reason you should listen to shitty music. None. You have no excuse. I'm not here to convince you Roky Erickson is some genius or visionary or that he's the reason you shouldn't listen to shitty music, but in this sad and beautiful world where there's so many fucking bands out there you're a real idiot if you're gonna listen to junk like "Ridin' With the King." See, here at the Highland Cinema we thought we knew everything we needed to know about the cool and angry post-punk rock music of the 1980s. We had all the Big Black and Butthole Surfers records. We knew the names of the guys in the Birthday Party and the Swans. But you know what? We found out there was a whole shitload of music we didn't know anything about! Nothing. Turns that before Reagan took office there was a whole lot of fucked up proto-industrial noise and weird rock bands out there. Whitehouse, NON, Helios Creed, Chrome, Throbbing Gristle...the list goes on and on and on and on. And how about Jandek or Can or Keiji Haino? Guys who've been putting out wicked strange records for a long long time. There's a TON of really really really interesting music out there, music you may not like or get, but music that you might as well expose yourself to since you're just gonna die pretty soon and no one wants to hear you complain about Nickelback all day. Lucky for you, this modern age has rendered your musical pretension only a few clicks away! Why, just look at me! Thanks to Mark Prindle, Electrical Audio, and Steve I listen to all kinds of stuff I never would've found on Clear Channel. In just the past few months alone I bought a super-girlified pop record, the Pig Destroyer catalog, and sat through two hours of shrieking bass feedback. I might just pick up some more ambient drone before I listen to even more black metal. Keep in mind that all this stuff is completely new to me and I didn't think I'd ever dig any of it. It's all stuff I found out about as an adult and then really enjoyed as an adult. There's no reason to grow out of anything.
(2) Just like Crumb, this Erickson family is fucked up. If you just peruse Roky's bio you'll see a big ol' tragedy of mental illness, but when I sat here and watched this thing I had a hard time getting past the fact that Mama Erickson has some serious problems of her own what with her hoarding and religious fanaticism and vehement distrust of the medical industry. And then there's younger brother Sumner Erickson, a guy who seems so noble the way he fought a court battle to get custody of the middle-aged Roky just so he could get the guy's schizophrenia under control and turn him into a productive citizen. Looks like it all worked out so well, right? Not three months back Roky played right down the street at Bumbershoot like a real functional music-makin' adult would. But watch You're Gonna Miss Me's bonus feature and catch how Sumner talks about how mental illness is a way of acting rather than a chemical imbalance. Wait, what? Are you serious? His story's just as much documentary fodder as Roky's is, no doubt. Picture it: younger brother of nutcase cult rocker rises out of his dysfunctional family to become wealthy Philharmonic tuba player and New Age devotee. Wow! Sign me up!
(3) This movie was really good. It's always nice to know that you started a movie feeling like you didn't know shit about someone and by the end feel like you truly got it. All of it. Why the music was important. Why the story was important. Why Thurston Moore, Byron Coley, and the fucking Austin City Limits give two shits about the guy. Bravo.