The 13th Floor Elevators

You're Gonna Miss Me

Song Review by

"You're Gonna Miss Me" has been revered so long as one of the core 1960s garage rock classics that it might come as a surprise to learn that its nationwide peak was a mere number 55 (though in some regions it charted much higher, such as the Elevators' native Texas). The 13th Floor Elevators might be thought of as more a psychedelic band than a garage one, but "You're Gonna Miss Me" is primal mid-'60s garage, right from its compulsive opening chords, which are like a rawer American derivation of the sorts that opened 1960s Who and Kinks records. That riff was pretty powerful, but the record's most distinguishing characteristics were composer Roky Erickson's yelping lead vocals -- part Little Richard, part Buddy Holly, part Wolfman Jack, part werewolf. They were more Erickson's than anyone else's, though, and conveyed a desperate, swaggering young man on the edge of madness, a development which unfortunately carried over to real life in time. Psychedelic madness was more implicit than explicit in "You're Gonna Miss Me," however, with the most psychedelic element supplied by the rapidly ascending and descending electric jug runs by Tommy Hall. Lyrically the song fit snugly into the mid-'60s garage tradition: an up-yours kiss of goodbye to a girl who'd done the singer wrong, with the boast "you're gonna miss me" when he was gone, perhaps as much to assuage his hurt as to assert his power. It was far more memorable than most such songs, though, not only because of the powerful guitar riff and Erickson's idiosyncratic singing, but also because of the whirling ghostly background vocals. There was also an unexpected pause about midway, the chords landing on a slower ominous riff and becoming more basic as Erickson cooled down for some extemporized-sounding bluesy philosophizing. Then the melody suddenly became brighter, the backup harmonies returned, and the group declared their intentions not to come home before returning to the motif of the main verse. Erickson's screaming became even more crazed on the fade, with a Rolling Stones-like blues-rock harmonica adding to the clamor. There was, incidentally, a prior, similar, and yet slightly less effective version of "You're Gonna Miss Me" on a rare earlier single (sans electric jug) by Erickson's previous group, the Spades. "You're Gonna Miss Me"'s classic status was ensured by its selection as one of the tracks on the Nuggets compilation, and its placement as the opening song in the film High Fidelity, an ode both to collector obsession with records like "You're Gonna Miss Me" and the kind of stormy relationships that inspire such songs.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968 1972
Various Artists
Rhino 2:31
Psychedelic Microdots, Vol. 2: Texas Twisted 1991
Various Artists
Sundazed 3:14
1966-1967 Unreleased Masters Collection 1994 Collectables
The Best of the 13th Floor Elevators [Eva] 1994
Psychedelia [AAD] 1995
Various Artists
AAD 2:29
Best of the 13th Floor Elevators: Manicure Your Mind 1997 M.I.L. Multimedia 3:42
The Interpreter, Vol. 1 1999 Thunderbolt (UK) 3:19
His Eye Is on the Pyramid 1999 Recall (UK) 2:45
Up on the 13th Floor 2000 Dressed To Kill 2:32
Nuggets from Nuggets: Choice Artyfacts From the First Psychedelic Era 2000
Various Artists
Rhino 2:28
The Legendary Group at Their Best 2001 Collectables 2:33
Absolutely the Best 2002 Varese 2:27
Pop Art: Underground Sounds from the Warhol Era 2002
Various Artists
WEA International 2:29
Acid Visions, Vol. 2 [P-Vine Japan] 2003
Various Artists
P-Vine Records 2:05
The Best of International Artists: More Reverberation 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 3:19
Garage Rock Classics 2004
Various Artists
Varèse Sarabande 2:28
I Have Always Been Here Before: The Roky Erickson Anthology 2005 Shout! Factory 2:29
Reverberations 2005 Atom 2:29
7th Heaven: Music of the Spheres - The Complete Singles Collection 2006 Charly Records / Snapper / Snapper Music 2:32
You're Gonna Miss Me [Original Soundtrack] 2007 Palm / Palm Pictures 2:27
Sign of the 3 Eyed Men 2009 4:28
Headstone: The Contact Sessions 2010 Charly Records 2:42
True Blood: Music from the HBO Original Series, Vol. 2 2010
Original Soundtrack
Atlantic / Elektra 2:27
100 Hits: Sixties Pop 2010
Various Artists
100 Hits 2:26
Hard to Find 45's on CD, Vol. 17: Late Sixties Classics 2017
Various Artists
Eric Records 2:27