Friday, October 24, 2003

ELLIOTT SMITH - 1969-2003: Some memories of Elliott, first from Aaron Scullion:

Quite sad about Elliott Smith (sharp intake of breath sad, not weeping or anything). Used to really like him - went to a gig in Edinburgh once that was just crazy, really fanatical support there. One guy was so taken by it he stole one of Elliott's guitar pedals, literally unplugging it, lifting it from the stage, and nipping out the door, in the break between songs.

Elliott seemed genuinely hurt by it all, and bleated throughout the encores, "who comes to a gig and steals stuff, man...".

I was reviewing the gig at th time, and wrote this line

"You'd think the music industry would have toughened him up by now"

Sad it didn't, I guess.

Next, Becky Bamboo:

A few weeks before Good Will Hunting came out, I read a bunch of articles about it and each one mentioned how beautiful the music in the movie was. The name Elliott Smith was lauded over and over. I started to get that feeling; the feeling that this is someone on whom I should take a chance. I've learned to trust that instinct, so I went out and bought Either/Or without having heard a note of it. The next day I bought everything else of his I could find.

There are certain things that just resonate, you know? Songs, poems, books, whatever. They hit you deep and hard and you feel them in your soul. And when you manage to find them you hold them close and they become a part of who you are. Elliott Smith's songs resonated with me. He managed to find hidden corners of my heart and illuminated and defined them for me. The music was intricate and delicately beautiful and his hushed voice perfectly suited his recurring themes of loneliness and isolation.

I had the privilege of seeing him perform twice. They were two very different shows. The first was an hour long set at Glastonbury in 2000. It was a confident, intense, and utterly riveting performance. The rest of the audience seemed to fade away and it was just me and him in a tent, in the cold. There was no banter, no wasted time, no hesitation. Just song after beautiful song that ripped into me and left me wrung out. The second time I saw him was two years later in San Francisco. It was a shambles. He looked tired and worn out. Songs were started and not finished, lyrics were forgotten. He seemed embarrassed and out of place up on stage. The audience sang along to each song under their breath, getting louder and carrying him when he'd forget where he was going. There was such a feeling of support and love from everyone there that I haven't felt before or since. I left, once again, wrung out.

I didn't go home last night and put on any of his albums. I couldn't. I don't know how long it will be before I will be able to listen to "Alameda" without sobbing. I don't know how long it will be until I can talk about him without my eyes filling and spilling over. I don't know how long I'll be on the headache-y edge of tears. But I bet Elliott would've known.

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