L.A. is pretentious and lonely

©Sara Baldwin

“L.A. is pretentious and lonely.”

Elliott Smith 


I really, really wanted him to live in L.A.


“I really, really wanted him to live in L.A. I just thought that being close to us, and all these people i knew would be good for him (…) I feel guilty about the L.A. thing because I really thought L.A. was going to be healthy.”

Margaret Mittleman

I got a chance to meet Elliott Smith before he died


“I got a chance to meet Elliott Smith before he died. I’m a big Elliott Smith fan. I went to Los Angeles to go see him. He was super fucked up and thrashed and I’m sitting there at the bar staring at him, and he’s 10 feet away. He’s drinking Johnny Walker Red, and I’m thinking, “Oh man, he’s drinking Johnny Walker Red.” I made him so uncomfortable.
I was staring at him and he kept looking over at me. Finally he was staring back at me like he wanted to fight me, and I realized what I was doing, because I’ve had people do that to me before. I’m fully bumming this dude out. We watched him play; it was totally awesome. My friends that were in other bands were like, “Do you want to meet him? Do you want to meet him? Let’s go backstage.” And I’m thinking, I already did that shit at the bar; he’s going to remember me. What do you say? “Hey, your music changed my life”? You’re going to put them in an uncomfortable situation. I just told them, “Nah. I don’t think so.” It’s such a bizarre thing to get that kind of attention: to touch someone’s youth or be a part of their childhood.”

Jeff Grosso

When I first met him it was magical


“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

©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


“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


“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

©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