I found out that same day…

©Peter Ellenby

“I found out that same day… I used to work at a record store in town, and Elliott’s sister worked there too and was called to the hospital from the shop. So the news spread quickly, yet was still kept under wraps. The next day when it officially broke, it was like a whole community gasped for air. We’d been holding our breath, keeping it in, and suddenly we could all say what we were thinking. Why? Wasn’t he doing better? I don’t know, he’d looked awful the last time I saw him… I’d heard he’d been clean for a while. Didn’t he have a new record in the can? Everywhere I walked that day, it seemed Elliott Smith was on every turntable. (My brother happened to be in the Haight Ashbury the day Jerry Garcia died, and he had a similar experience. Except much more patchouli & sweat scented.) Continue reading

Somebody That I Used To Know is a pretty straightforward “Fuck off’ kind of song


Somebody That I Used To Know is a pretty straightforward “Fuck off’ kind of song – more straightforward than they usually are. Usually they don’t turn out that way, probably because I would feel really bored if I had to be in the exact same mood every time I sang the song to stay inside it and play it well. There has to be room for my imagination to kind of run around inside the lyrics, and hopefully inside people who bother to listen to it.”

Elliott Smith

The biggest bands that Kill Rock Stars ever put out

©Will Watts

“The biggest bands that Kill Rock Stars ever put out each got their momentum in a different way. Sleater-Kinney’s biggest momentum was from the press — second to Radiohead, they got more positive press than any other band in America in the 90s. With the Decemberists, it was the public: the indie rock record-buyers, the kids, went crazy for that band, but critics kind of shrugged at the time. When Elliott Smith came out, it was falling on deaf ears. But artists were reacting to it. So there was a Fugazi interview where they mentioned that they’d heard the record and liked it. And then John Doe took Elliott on tour, and Sebadoh took Elliott on tour, and in a Beastie Boys SPIN interview, they mentioned his record.”

Slim Moon

Staking out the shadows between melancholy and fatalistic


“Staking out the shadows between melancholy and fatalistic, Elliott Smith wrote pretty tunes that assumed the worst. At least that’s the critical shorthand on one of the more easily stereotyped artists of the last decade. But there’s more to Smith and his music than such faulty caricatures suggest.
A lyric from the song that opens Smith’s final studio album, “From a Basement on the Hill” plays right into the tortured-artist cliché: “I’ll never be good enough for you.” Of course, it’s tempting to read even more into Smith’s pessimism now that he’s gone, his death from two stab wounds last year instantly elevating him to rock-martyr status. Continue reading

Elliott Smith’s Guitar – Brainwarmer (2002)

©Tiffany Lee Brown

“I was deeply saddened to hear of Elliott’s recent suicide. As I wrote for BUST magazine’s “Men We Love” issue a few years back, “I moved back to Oregon the same week that saw the release of a local boy hero’s second solo CD…my entire brain contracted the minute I heard his amazing songs.” He and his music represent Portland to me, the way the rain leaks into everything we do. He knew how to turn that grey wet reality into something beautiful and transcendent. Continue reading

She started talking about I Figured You Out


“She started talking about I Figured You Out. She said that she watched Elliott as he wrote the song–I guess it was during one of the times when they were touring together–and then he played it.  And he said “It sounds like the Eagles!  I can’t wait for [she said a name, I forget who, I don’t  know anything about the Eagles] to get off the highway and take a dump!”And then he crumpled up the paper and threw it in the trash.  Later on she got into the trashcan and took the bit of paper with the song written on it out.  Then a bit later, I guess when Elliott was in a better mood, she said something like “As a singer-songwriter who doesn’t write many songs, would you mind if I kept this?”  Elliott said it was okay, and I guess then later on he was the engineer for her recording of the song on the Martian Saints EP. Continue reading

I was hired to be the music supervisor on Thumbsucker

“I was hired to be the music supervisor on that film. Mike Mills wanted me to help him much in the way I had worked with Sofia. Mike had wanted Elliott to do some covers for the film so I got in touch with Elliott and brought him on board. We showed him an early cut of the film which he loved so he agreed to try. Elliott lived near me and we have some mutual friends so I had seen him around a bit, but we never really talked much until the film. Continue reading

I remember the first time I met him

©Rhett Miller

“I remember the first time I met him, I was doing a songwriting circle with him and Fiona Apple at Largo, and the two of them were so nervous beforehand they were practically bawling. They were basket cases. And I was like, “What’s wrong with you two? If anyone should be a basket case, it’s me!” But he was just a sweet guy, and what he wrote about was really heartfelt and sincere. There was an awkward moment toward the end of his life when he was not doing well. Continue reading