Lou Barlow’s Good Things: The 13th Floor Elevators’ “Sign Of The Three Eyed Men”

Lo-fi legend Lou Barlow has played in three of the most influential indie bands of the last quarter century: Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh and the Folk Implosion. And while he’s still recording and touring with the reunited Dinosaur (whose Farm was released this summer), his main concern these days is his solo career. Goodnight Unknown (Merge), Barlow’s second album under his own name and the follow-up to 2005’s Emoh, is his best collection of songs in a decade and features guests including Dale Crover (Melvins) and Lisa Germano. Barlow also recently joined Lara Meyerratken in Ben Lee’s new incarnation of Noise Addict, which released It Was Never About The Audience for free last month. Barlow (backed by the Missingmen) is opening for Dinosaur throughout October and part of November. As if that double duty wasn’t enough, Barlow will also be guest editing all week. Read our Q&A with him.


Barlow: Think it’s hard to be in band in 2009 when music is free and everybody stays home? Check out Austin, Texas, back in 1966: The cops are literally out to kill you, the smallest amount of marijuana will get you 20 years in prison, your band leader makes you take acid for every practice and show, your record label remixes your songs after you leave the studio and refuses to promote them, and the draft board is after you. Then you die. The 13th Floor Elevators‘ story makes the MC5 seem lucky in comparison, which they most certainly were not. Did you know that Janis Joplin adopted her unique scream-singing style from seeing Roky Erickson perform? That when the Grateful Dead heard that the 13th Floor Elevators took acid for every show, they said, “Golly, we could never do that”? No band called themselves psychedelic before the 13th Floor Elevators came along; unbelievably, they never toured nationally (though they had a hit single) but did make it to San Francisco, where they blew the hippies away and changed modern music. The story is unbelievable, the music is great. There’s a gorgeous new 10-CD boxed set, Sign Of The Three Eyed Men, and a meticulously researched, fun-to-read book to prove it.