For a while there, Elliott was just kind of, hanging out

©Renaud Monfourny

“For a while there, Elliott was just kind of, hanging out. He seemed to always just magically be around. And it just happened to be at a time we needed some melodic backing vocals, so Elliott came by one day to record his parts, and did a few songs with us, and one that we recorded was a version of The Beatles “Yer Blues,” with Elliott singing and playing bass, which, if you’re familiar with that song — is a pretty heavy song. Shortly after that, Elliott passed away, so now we have this tape that we’ll never release because the song took on this whole new weird light, but it’s this great version from this deeply troubled, but remarkable musician.

So, he’s on a lot of stuff from the New York City sessions, and then we went to LA and spent three days in his studio, which had an incredible collection of gear. He invited us to just come jam, and work with him, and he was sorta…courting us, and he was like “I want to make a record with you guys, and I want you to be my band” and we were up for that, so we would arrive at the studio and we would just kinda sit around outside the studio and wait for him for long periods of time, so it wasn’t a very productive trip…but he was a sweet guy and just an incredible musician, but just dealing with a lot of problems.

But it’s funny because just last night Russell Simins and I were talking about this, and after the tragedy of Elliott killing himself, there were a few books that came out, and one of them attacks us saying that we were a bad influence for him, saying “how could they have alcohol in the dressing room when Elliott was there!” And I thought that was just incredibly unfair, since the author knew nothing about the relationship between Elliott Smith and the Blues Explosion.

So, we’ve been painted as devils for corrupting R.L. Burnside, as well as for fucking things up for Elliott Smith.”

Jon Spencer


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