When I first met him it was magical

aaronespinoza

“When I first met him it was magical. He just had that thing you’re attracted to. Magnetic. There was sides of him that were very reclusive, but if he let you in, it was a pretty good feeling. He would talk about dying. But it was never about suicide – it was about drugs. He always said he could never kill himself. For a lot of people, it wasn’t a surprise. But for me, it didn’t make sense at all.”

Aaron Espinoza

Oh my God, Elliott Smith is like one of my favorite guys right now

stevek
©Steve Keros

“Oh my God, Elliott Smith is like one of my favorite guys right now that’s happening. He’s not in the pop realm, but he’s also not rock. The Heatmiser records are pretty kind of pop-Stonesy, but it’s really original stuff. And everyone should really check Elliott’s solo records out. The first one, it’s on Kill Rock Stars and it’s absolutely genius, man. It’s got this great song, ‘Needle in the Hay.’ That one and the first song on the record will blow your mind.”

Jason Falkner (1999)

I saw when I was watching the Grammys

asm

“I saw when I was watching the Grammys last week that Elliott Smith had passed away. When I saw that, my face just dropped. I had always wanted to work with him. I know that people were saying that his music was dark. But his energy was definitely felt. It felt like life to me. Yes, there was a darkness and I’m always attracted to dark chords anyway and he would play these chords and I’d be like “whoa”. He kind of reminded me of the Beatles to some degree with some of his structure and I’m a Beatles fan so that was the immediate connection but then there was a deeper part of it that was just so dark. And what he was writing about – I connected with it. I think the album was called ‘XO’ and that’s the first album that I’ve heard of him. I know he has a lot more material. Wish list? Definitely Elliott Smith.”

Ali Shaheed Muhammad (A Tribe Called Quest)

Steve found this robot that had these guns that came out

spsh

“Steve found this robot that had these guns that came out, and there was a guy behind the counter who would light the lyrics on fire. And it’d burn up part of the counter top and we’d have to go ‘OK, let’s do it again.’ Clean off the counter top, then here comes the robot, then burn the lyrics. I don’t know, it was kind of fun, watching the lyrics burn.”

Elliott Smith

On several songs there’s some imagery that keeps popping up

charliegrossLA
©Charlie Gross

“On several songs there’s some imagery that keeps popping up about soldiers, or doing battle with something. On that particular song, “Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud”, I just thought that it was an interesting question. I don’t know what the answer is, to that. Sometimes it seems like “No”… I wanted it to seem equally plausible to answer it “No” or “Yes”.You can’t answer to some sort of authority that you don’t even know who they are, or what it is. That song wasn’t meant to be specifically addressed to my parents, it’s just an abstract authority that sees you in some mainstream terms. Would they like how your life seems to be? Would they be disappointed? Would they be impressed? Does any of this matter? Or are any of the answers negative, some of them positive?”

Elliott Smith

It was a very macho environment

jbalderson
©Jeremy Balderson

“It was a very macho environment, very different from Olympia. Very hypocritical, claiming to be different from the norm but really more of the same.  I can remember there being a lot of animosity towards Elliott going solo.  My hunch is that he was really rejected by the Portland scene, at least a lot of people. It was a very incestuous and dark little scene. Continue reading

I asked Elliott to open for Sebadoh

gregneate
©Greg Neate

“I asked Elliott to open for Sebadoh. Our audience was very rude to him. People were not even listening to his songs. I remember that the bar of the venue we were playing made its peak sales during his set. Poor Elliott. The most disgusting thing is how, two or three years later, the same people who had been ignoring him started to idolize him. His songs had not changed. Elliott was very aware of that irony. Sometimes it made him laugh, sometimes it depressed him completely.”

Lou Barlow

Sometime in late spring/early summer 1994

sanfrancisco
©JJ Gonson

“Sometime in late spring/early summer 1994, Laurian , me and the other 2 members of our band drove our crappy van (named Sal, because it had been rescued from a salvage yard in Sacramento and the engine was almost dead) 25 MPH over the mountain passes from CA to OR to record an album in Portland with Thee Slayer Hippy (Drummer for Poison Idea and producer – Heatmiser, Hard Ons etc.).

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