Why were certain songs chosen over others?


“Why were certain songs chosen over others?
Well, it’s true, there weren’t just 15 “finished” songs. If there were, it’d be an easy decision, and one nobody would be questioning. There were more than 15, (as for the exact number, I honestly don’t know, but not too many more,) but because the double-record idea was out, (due to contractual problems as well as agreed number of “ready” songs,) we had to narrow it down. Elliott has always had to narrow it down. There have been some AMAZING songs that, in my opinion, should have been on some of his other records, or comprised more records, but that he shelved, for one reason or another. Come on, how many of you out there wished that Cecilia/Amanda had made it, or Place Pigalle, or I Don’t Think I’m Ever Gonna Figure it Out, or Brand New Game, or Angel in the Snow, or the COUNTLESS amazing songs he had but never put on a proper record had made it? He shelved (or flat out never fully recorded,) tons of beautiful songs. The same is unfortunately the case for this record. There are a number of amazing, beautiful songs that if ANYBODY heard them they would say they belong on there, and I agree, but we couldn’t release a gazillion songs. It was impossible. We had to make some choices. CDs are only so long. And those choices were really hard. Does the track listing reflect MY OWN personal opinion? Partially. Are there songs that I too think are missing? Sure. Of course. It’s not up to one of us, it was up to his whole family, tempered by what the labels could swing. Are there songs that other members of the family wanted on there but that got nixed for one reason or another? Yes.’

‘I’m not saying that the final track listing is what Elliott would have done, but it really is the closest that we could get (with the consensus and our boundaries) to what we think he would have chosen. True, each of us were coming from a different perspective and a different WAY of knowing Elliott, but there were enough decision-makers in there that REALLY know his music and have worked with him for years and years that I think the decisions, while not perfect, are at least within the range of something he would find acceptable. We chose Rob and Joanna because Elliott had worked with them for LONG amounts of time in a musical setting, and we really think that they know him, musically, as good or better than anybody. And I was in there with them for a good part of almost every day while they were working, and I was around Elliott a lot during the last four years. Particularly during his last two years. I moved out to LA to be close to him, and while I didn’t see him every day, nor did I go to the studio with him all that often, I was around him, goofing around, going to shows, having him cut my hair, eating dinner, hanging out, and LISTENING to his music. I’d always get him to play me stuff. So while I don’t claim to know the MOST about how this record should have been, I was at least in quite regular contact with him and discussed songs with him quite a bit for this record. So it’s not like some totally oblivious family came swooping in and changed everything around. The rest of his family weren’t oblivious at all, but they knew that they were geographically, at least, further away, which is why they relied quite heavily on the opinions of Rob and Joanna and me and other friends of Elliott’s that were in LA or at the studios he recorded at. Let’s face it, none of us are professional musicians, so obviously we needed some help. So the parents used some advisors. True, some of them are saying that we went against some of the stuff that Elliott wanted, but keep in mind that he told lots of people exactly what he wanted for this record, and nobody’s story is the same.’
‘Were songs censored?
I don’t know how to answer that. Is not including a song on a particular record censorship? If so, Elliott is guilty of censoring all of his past records too. Sure, there are reasons, (sometimes technical, sometimes opinion-based) that some songs aren’t on there, but Elliott would have had to make these tough decisions too, and whether or not he had a “finished” track listing in his mind is up to interpretation. Ask anyone who’s ever worked on a record with him. He goes back and forth up until it’s finalized. I can say that I personally didn’t strongly object to any songs that were his own compositions making it. There just wasn’t enough room to include all the songs, so choices were made. Abused is one of those songs that everyone says was censored. Well, I can tell you that that song was recorded well before Figure 8 came out, and Elliott actively chose not to include it on that record. We have proof of that. Did I want it included on this one? I think it’s a beautiful song, and I do hope someday that it gets released, but others in his family may have a different idea. I don’t know, and I can’t speak for them. I guess we’ll just have to see with time. This whole ordeal has been so painful on the parents, on both sides, I don’t think any of us have any idea. Obviously this has been the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with, and hopefully ever will deal with, and I loved him more than anyone on this earth, but even I can’t begin to understand how it feels to lose a child. That’s just not natural. Regardless of how close they were or how often they talked, to lose a child is nothing I’d ever want to go through. So if certain things are difficult for them, that’s the way it goes. Elliott left us without a will, without designating ONE person to handle it all, and we’re doing the best we can. Do I wince at some of the decisions that have been made? Hell yes. But do I think I would have been able to come up with better ones? Maybe, maybe not, and that depends on who you talk to. Would one of the techs, or other friends been able to? Possibly, but quite possibly not, and the way he left it created this situation.

Other songs, like True Love, were really meant to be on there, but his vocals were so raw and unclean on the version we had intact that we weren’t sure Elliott would have put it out. We did find out the whereabouts, later, of a cleaner version, and hopefully that can make it out eventually. We’ll see. It literally was found about three days late to make the cut.

Basically what I’m saying is that decisions HAD to be made, and so songs got chosen over others. None of us are conspiring to hide anything, at least I can speak for myself, and as for not wanting to put depressing songs on there, listen to the music. If we were really censoring the songs, pretty much NONE of them would have made it. There wouldn’t have been a record. Elliott’s songs are beautiful, and sad, and touching, and heart-felt, and sometimes very autobiographical, and sometimes more metaphorical. But there’s no doubt that this is a dark record. He was in a dark time for most of the last four years. And those dark songs still made it. Because we felt that that’s how he wanted it.
Basically, in all of this, what I’m saying is that this is the hardest process I’ve ever faced, I think it’s probably up there on all of the family’s lists, as well as those we recruited to help, and no, it’s not perfect. But the only way it would have been perfect would be if Elliott had lived to finish it. I think we can all agree there. And people, I’m trying. I’m trying my hardest. I ONLY want what I believe Elliott wanted, even when it goes against what I think (for example, the label choice: we only chose from a couple of labels that he was thinking about right before he died. I could have thought of 5 others that I’d like to have considered, but I didn’t think Elliott wasn’t too keen on them, so I didn’t try and throw them into the mix.) I’m happy with Anti-, though, for the record! “

Ashley Welch


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