My first exposure to Elliott Smith


“My first exposure to Elliott Smith came when I was working at a college radio station and he was in the press following his Oscar nomination. I never really heard his material until I caught the video for “Son Of Sam.” The music floored me, it was so different from anything else you would have heard in ’98/’99, but the emotions were so powerful. What’s more, when I was in second grade our class watched The Red Balloon, which the video was based on. For a 7-year-old, that movie was about as dramatic as you could imagine. This made the song’s sentiment sting all the more. And though I’m not down anymore, that song resonates cause there’s a solidarity in knowing someone has a sense of how you feel. Elliott Smith had a gift for that kind of empathy.

Fast forward a few months and VH1 is doing a show on inspirations, and there’s Mr. Smith talking about Stevie Wonder, and that a friend of his suggested a song to play that would cheer him up, and the song was “Don’t You Worry about a Thing.” I’d never made note of the song, but anything that could make Elliott Smith smile was worth seeking out. It cheered me up, and I passed it along to many a friend, so I credit Elliott Smith with writing songs that put a finger on a quiet pain that many people raised in the divorce riddled, drug addled ’80s, and pointing a finger to happier times cause he saw reason to connect with the joyful times that preceded them. I am in his debt, and will share what he gave every chance I’m given. “

Willie Smith

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