Roky Erickson – ‘Openers II-The Lyrics Of Roky Erickson’ (1995)
Published over a quarter century ago ‘Openers II’ collects the lyrics and writings of Texas psychedelic rock legend Roger Kynard Erickson, better known by his nickname Roky, whose work with The 13th Floor Elevators and his solo efforts left an indelible mark on rock and roll music.
The 317 page volume, first published May 1, 1995, compiles a total of 209 compositions, 195 penned by Erickson solely, 10 co-written with Elevator vocalist/electric jug player Tommy Hall, 2 with Hall’s wife Clementine and 2 penned with Elevator lead guitarist Stacy Sutherland and Hall.
Following Erickson’s words of introduction: “If You Be And You Let These Words Be You Can Perceive” the lyrics are arranged alphabetically, from ‘Ain’t Blues Sad’ to the author’s best known work, widely recognized as the first “psychedelic rock” song ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’, first recorded by Roky with his pre-Elevators band The Spades in 1965, but brought to prominence with its 1966 release as a single as well as its inclusion on The Elevators’ debut album from the same year ‘The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators’ which also included such Elevators classics as ‘Splash 1’ co-written with Clementine Hall, ‘Roller Coaster’ penned with Tommy Hall and ‘Reverberation’ a joint effort of Erickson, Sutherland and Tommy Hall. The band’s 1967 followup LP ‘Easter Everywhere’ featured such notable tunes as ‘Slip Inside This House’, ‘She Lives (In A Time Of Her Own), ‘Levitation’, ‘Earthquake’ and ‘Postures (Leave Your Body Behind), all written by Erickson and Tommy Hall, while the group’s 1969 swan song album ‘Bull Of The Woods’ featured Erickson’s ‘May The Circle Remain Unbroken’. All these lyrics are included in ‘Openers II’. Following the disbanding of the 13th Floor Elevators Roky went on to a prolific solo career, the vast majority of which is covered in ‘Openers II’. His earliest solo work, credited to Roky Erickson And The Blieb Aliens (Blieb being an anagram of Bible), included the melodic love song ‘Starry Eyes’ as well as Erickson’s adventure in the science fiction and horror arena ‘Red Temple Prayer (Two Headed Dog)’. Roky’s solo work continued in this vein with releases under the shortened moniker Roky Erickson And The Aliens, including ‘Don’t Shake Me Lucifer’, ‘It’s A Cold Night For Alligators’, ‘Creature With The Atom Brain’, ‘Stand For The Fire Demon’, ‘Bloody Hammer’ and ‘The Wind And More.’ The songs can be accessed alphabetically or for those more familiar with his catalog by use of a “first line index.” This book, along with the 2021 publication of Syd Barrett’s work, stand as the two most important compilation of psychedelic rock musicians lyrics, and is invaluable to fans of the genre.
‘Openers II’ contains 18 photos, including the front and back covers, all credited in detail on the “Photos” credit page”, while the 4 illustrations used are annotated on the “Illustrations” credit page. The volume includes an “Editor’s Query” regarding 19 songs whose lyrics could not be located in time for inclusion, a 4 page “Editor’s Afterword” and short interview with Tommy Hall by Casey Monahan and a short note of thanks from Roky’s brother Sumner Erickson. The volume closes with a “Rocky Erickson Discography” compiled by Casey Monahan, Sumner Erickson, Andrew Halbreich, Craig Stewart, Li Wang and Jack Ortman which details 91 songs written or co-written by Erickson by including the song title followed the name of the album, record label and year of release for each of the songs. As an example, ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ is documented to have been included on 32 releases at the time of publication, making the effort put into this incredible volume obvious to the reader.
‘Openers II’ is a slim, yet handsome volume with a 1974 photo of a then youthful Roky, taken by Scott Newton, on the front cover. The intimate photos within the text document Roky’s life throughout the period covered and add to the obvious tender loving care put into this work. The book will interest 13th Floor Elevators and Roky Erickson fans, psychedelic rock fans, music historians and collectors of lyric compilations and comes most highly recommended. To go a step further, this book is absolutely essential to psychedelic rock music fans and historians and despite the fact that it fetches far more than its original suggested retail price of $19.95US it is an absolute must have for such people. Seek out copies on Amazon.com, at eBay.com or wherever possible. I guarantee you will not be disappointed!
Roky Erickson – ‘Openers II-The Lyrics Of Roky Erickson (1995)