He was extremely restrained

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“He was extremely restrained; he didn’t make the kind of brash, anthemic statements rock musicians are often given to. In a way he was an anti-Dylan. He loved Dylan’s music and covered ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’ in concert, but he took it away from strident stances and into a personal, ironic place. And he was different from Kurt Cobain because he was not into youth slogans or grandiose statements.
His songs provided at least the illusion of great intimacy with the artist. I think people make the mistake of thinking they afford more intimacy than they do. The real Elliott Smith is a lot more hidden.”

Benjamin Nugent

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