You’re Gonna Miss Me: Music Doc Dusts Off the Myth of Roky Erickson

If you only see one gushy, poppy rock-doc about an influential singer-songwriter—renowned as much for his music as for his near-tragic mental illness—that features candid intimacy with the subject's folks and canonizing interviews with Gibby Haynes and Thurston Moore, go rent The Devil and Daniel Johnston. Not to dismiss You're Gonna Miss Me's where-is-he-now chronicle of 13th Floor Elevators frontman–turned–LSD burnout Roky Erickson, whose status as psychedelic-rock grandfather warrants rediscovery; director Keven McAlester's film is entertaining. But with battered archival footage and celebrity worship, McAlester skimps on perspective and complexity, instead focusing on the courtroom battle over the then-53-year-old Roky's custody and painting Roky's brothers as heroes and Mom, who's against giving her son psychiatric meds, as the villain. Roky's addled state might be a product of the electroshock he received after being arrested for marijuana possession and institutionalized in 1969, but McAlester fails to connect those dots, so Mom's faith in God over science looks merely neglectful rather than neglectful and a rational response to evidence. The camera lingers unobtrusively on her nostalgic ramblings and scrapbook show-and-tells, but the laissez-faire approach feels less like impartiality than rope; it's her noose, but McAlester's knot.

 
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