250 Words #2 - The Thirteenth Floor Elevators' May The Circle Remain Unbroken

Closing their final studio album, 1968's Bull of the Woods, was this track, which illustrated the damage drugs had inflicted on the band. Gone was the howling, jugband psychedelia of their debut single, You're Gonna Miss Me and in its place came a sound that was haunted by Erickson's fading mind. This was a farewell forever, from a band who never came back.

Lyrically, there is little here with Erickson simply repeating the title three times before humming the melody as the track fades away but the music is astonishing. Rough guitars and a pump organ fade around Erickson's frail vocal, which drifts over the music like a nighttime radio broadcast. Forget rock music, this is closest to the soundtrack to Herk Hervey's Carnival Of Souls, bleeding out of Saltair, the old dance-hall pavilion into which Candace Hilligoss vanishes.

A drugs bust in 1969 saw Erickson pleading insanity but what followed was not the pleasant retreat he hoped for. Three years of electroshock therapy and thorazine at a hospital for the Criminally Insane saw Erickson emerge with his mind long gone, telling Nick Kent how the Devil spoke to him and that he loved to watch those zombies dance...

May The Circle Remain Unbroken is the last track on Collectables Records' reissue of Bull of the Woods.

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