Elliott Smith to me was the beginning


“I love Leonard Cohen and Townes Van Zandt, and these people who hit these emotional places. But Elliott Smith to me was the beginning. I was writing a lot of that time, but he was the one. He was definitely a major influence on me.
I saw him at The Warfield in San Francisco, and I saw him at The Fillmore. I actually got to meet him after the Filmore, which was pretty crazy. You know how you say you should never meet your heroes? He was quite frail. I ended up sharing some Jameson’s with him from a bottle. People were treating him like this delicate little flower they had to kind of dance around. And I wanted to grab him and say, ‘Dude you’re a fucking legend: a hero!’ Everyone was treating him like a child, which you imagine just added to his sadness and darkness.”

Jake Smith / The White Buffalo


They lied and said it was written for the movie

“Elliott Smith came in to help his friend build the studio and contributed a console that he had purchased. It was too large to fit in the building, so, the pair cannibalized what they could from it and traded away the rest.
Since there was a studio in Seattle called Laundry Room, Crane decided that the move would also lead to a change in monikers. Smith and Crane discussed possible names and, while sitting at breakfast, Smith reached into a Trivial Pursuit box and pulled out a card. “Jackpot” was listed as one of the answers and the two decided that would make a perfect name. Continue reading

I don’t think it has any chance in hell of winning

©Ron Gallela – Miramax party, Beverly Wilshire Hotel, 22 mars 1998

“I don’t think it has any chance in hell of winning. I mean, nobody knows me, and it’s not like that many people know the song. It’s not like, ‘Ah, yes, I’m finally where I worked so hard to be.’ The film thing was a happy accident all the way around. Gus Van Sant invited me over to his house one day to see some of his new movie. He’d put some of my songs in it, and he wanted to know what I thought. I guess I expected they would be way in the background, but actually they were really in the foreground. Continue reading

In the summer of 2002, I’d just returned to L.A. from Eastern Europe


“In the summer of 2002, I’d just returned to L.A. from Eastern Europe -Belgrade -where I could live cheaply and so work full-time on a novel. To my frustration, the novel still required extensive surgery, and one night, in lieu of taking an axe to my computer, I drove to Ralph’s Supermarket on Glendale Boulevard. It was three in the morning, but there was a longish line at the cash register, and the customer immediately behind me was Elliott Smith. The checker wandered off, and I wondered if I should say anything to Elliott. Continue reading

What a damn fine writer

©Claude Bell

“What a damn fine writer. His loss is the worst one, it really is, and I mean that in every way. I personally feel that he was our finest writer and his loss is incalculable, which makes everything all that much more heartbreaking. I have some very personal memories of sweetness. Before he took out his own mind, because he spent a few years without himself, he was a creature of immense sweetness. He was not without his grinding angers inside like the rest of us but his day-to-day interaction had a lot more shyness and sweetness in his heyday. The memories I have of him are so big to me that I’ll never be able to adequately communicate it. The nature of his music might suggest an endless dourness but he was really the opposite to that when he was in good shape.”

Jon Brion

As soon as someone calls you a songwriter

sam harris photo
©Sam Harris

“As soon as someone calls you a songwriter, you automatically get the melancholy tag. Also, ‘Why aren’t you playing dance music?’ and ‘Why are your songs so sad?’ They’re just clichés. If it wasn’t those, it would be different ones. You can’t always expect people to relate. There are all kinds of people, and some people understand each other and some people don’t. NSYNC sells nine million records, so there’s nine million people that can relate, and I’m not one of them. So even if you sell millions and millions of albums, there’s always going to be somebody who doesn’t get it. If you want to be creative and do what you do, it’s going to be kind of idiosyncratic.”

Elliott Smith

You know ‘As’ by Stevie Wonder?

©Steve Appleford

“You know ‘As’ by Stevie Wonder? It’s on ‘Songs In the Key of Life’, actually. He’s like reeling off this really long list of metaphors for how long he’s going to love someone. It’s all – I’ll love you til the end of this or that – and they’re all things that can’t end. That might be a good one for my funeral! Or maybe a Velvet Underground song, like ‘Sunday Morning’, or ‘Beginning to See the Light’. Yeah, that’s the one. That’s it. Perfect! That’s the song I’d like to have played at my funeral.”

Elliott Smith

I did have the fortune of meeting Elliott Smith

©Wendy Lynch Redfern

“I did have the fortune of meeting Elliott Smith and, like many others who’ve had the honor, I found him to be an open book. I had just flown back to LA from vacationing in Uruguay. The flight was over twenty hours long and I had a severe case of jet lag when my editor called me up and asked if I wanted to interview Elliott Smith that night at a Silverlake club called Spaceland. We’d been trying to get an interview with him for months and, as tired as I was, I couldn’t pass it up. My first meeting with Elliott at Spaceland was somewhat surreal. I remember being nervous because I heard he was difficult to interview. I had no need to be. Elliott was forthcoming and funny yet also humble and extremely shy. It was a short interview as he had yet to soundcheck and, although he promised a follow-up, I thought the quick forty minutes we had with him would be it. Continue reading