“As the Class of 89’s 30-year high school reunion approaches, I’ve been thinking of the kids we went to school with. My Facebook feed is a flood of pictures and memories. Some pictures make me laugh, some cause confusion, some bring – most bring – all of the insecurity back.
That knot in the stomach.
Some pictures and the memories they trigger make me curious about what life would have been like if had been a little more courageous, a little more of myself. Mostly, I am astonished by how interesting these children have become. And these are just the children who were in my class. There are so many more who were older or younger who I watched from afar who went on to the extraordinary. Continue reading →
“I didn’t know Elliott Smith. I knew a Steve Smith. He and I went to the same school in Duncanville, TX, a Dallas suburb. He had blonde hair, and a characterful, acne-scarred face, even as a thirteen year old. He was quiet, older kid, with a demeanor that implied intelligence and maturity. It’s possible he wasn’t mature for his age, but at the time I imagined he was. I liked and respected the guy, even though I didn’t know him that well. The fact that he was also a year older than me—an 8th grader—didn’t hurt his image, either. That made him almost as intimidating as a teacher.
I wasn’t friends with Steven Paul Smith (who later changed his name to Elliott Smith). I was friends with his friends. I very briefly dated a girl he once dated. I wasn’t in a band with Elliott Smith, but I did play in rock bands with a few guys who, reportedly, played in Elliott’s first band. Pathetic joke: actually, I did play in one band with Elliott Smith: The Byrd Junior High Symphonic Band. He played clarinet; I played xylophone and snare drum. I was sometimes first chair; he was almost always first chair. Continue reading →
“You could have known Beck before he was big time. You might have met Elliott Smith in another dimension before he was also big time. He thought you were cool because you knew Beck and once when you heard Elliott play live in a coffee shop for a crowd of 30 teenage girlies, you told him ‘No, Elliott, I’m not cool for knowing Beck. If knowing anyone is what makes me cool, it’s knowing you because your damn voice sounds like angels singing, your voice just made me and a grown man cry. Then Elliott got big time and everyone got to hear angels singing and everyone was made to cry, even if just in their hearts.”
“The indies are just a cover up for major labels and the scrap heap of talent is piling up. The cruel end is that in five years from now, people like Paul Westerberg and Hayden and Elliott Smith and E…, all these people aren’t going to be able to make major records anymore. No one will want them because they’re not huge money-makers. The days of labels encouraging offbeat talent are over.
It’s happening now, where Elliott got a lot of critical attention at first, and now some people can’t remember who he is.”
“Elliott Smith, or Steve Smith as his yearbook picture says, went to my high school. He was a senior when I was a freshman. I’m not that familiar with where he came from, but I remember seeing him play in this prog rock band and he had a pink paisley guitar. They were called Stranger Than Fiction and he was a great musician so I think I looked up to him. He’s an amazing guitarist. The guy would never remember me from high school. If anything he’d remember me from bands we played in high school.”
“I mean, in this country, people always make money by screwing somebody else. I don’t know how much difference it makes whether I’m playing music or doing construction work like I used to. Someone always gets paid too much, and someone else doesn’t get paid enough. Sometimes I’m the one getting paid too much, and sometimes I’m not.”