7 years ago tomorrow I was in my 4th year of university. The prior summer I had become obsessed with the music of Elliott Smith. My first taste of his music was during the film The Royal Tenenbaums, when Elliott’s song “Needle in the Hay” eerily plays during an attempted suicide. Something about the music struck me, and I went straight to the internet to track down everything he had done.
The first album I bought was Either/Or and once it sank into my psyche, it never left. I still can’t figure out how to play “Ballad of Big Nothing” right. In fact, I can safely say Either/Or is the one album that made me buy an acoustic guitar. As Elliott’s music became more and more of an obsession to me, I would often read online that he had terrible struggles with depression and drug use but that he had recently cleaned up and had big plans to release a double album.
I downloaded a couple of recent shows and kept tabs on him, and couldn’t wait until he toured again so I could go and maybe shake his hand.
Anyway, I woke up and rolled out of bed and signed onto a weezer messageboard. i clicked on a thread titled “oh shit.” and couldn’t believe my eyes. It said that Elliott had passed away the prior day and that details were scant. My heart felt like it had plunged into my stomach as I crawled back into bed and cried.
As time passed, I grew even more fond of his music and his last album From a Basement on a Hill was pieced together by his family and friends and released a year later. It was a gripping portrait of his final years, and somehow more disturbing than some of his darkest work prior – but I still found it to be as brilliant as ever.
The world lost an insanely talented man that day. Elliott truly belongs in the ranks of artists like John Lennon, David Lynch, and Van Gogh. He had such an effortless genius to him that was wrapped up in mazes of crazy chords and compelling stories.
Sometimes its tough to listen to his music taking his life into context, but I will always wonder what could have been, what might have been left, and where he could have gone. Maybe he had already given all he had, but still I can’t help but wonder. Miss you Elliott.
Categories: Everything Else
come with me if you want to live
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