Ça lui est arrivé de me raconter un jour toute l’histoire exacte d’une chanson

number nine

“Ça lui est arrivé de me raconter un jour toute l’histoire exacte d’une chanson. Et alors ? Le lendemain, pour la même chanson, il expliquait qu’il n’y avait en fait aucune histoire, que ce n’était qu’une succession aléatoire de mots. Mais avec le recul, certaines paroles résonnent avec sa personnalité. Continue reading


I didn’t talk to very many labels

©Renaud Monfourny

“I didn’t talk to very many labels because I liked Lenny. We have similar tastes in music, including Randy Newman. I just liked everyone there. Lenny actually talks about music as opposed to the rest of the world who talk about the stuff that has to do with it. He likes songs and I like songs.”

Elliott Smith


Artists all occupy their own space

stuart holt
©Stuart Holt

“Artists all occupy their own space, and Elliott is the epitome of that. I think that he is a major songwriter who has his own vocabulary. Most great writers do. There’s something very fragile and almost eerie about his style that was attractive. And then when you start to pay attention to what he’s saying, and the melodic smarts, it all adds up to somebody who’s quite special.”

Lenny Waronker

We had meetings with Lenny Waronker and Luke Wood

soundcitystudios plasticsoul mcconnell

“We had meetings with Lenny Waronker and Luke Wood where we’d play them some of the songs. Waronker looked really tripped out by it. I think he was probably thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is the most crazy drug album I’ve heard in fifteen years.’ It was kind of like that. I think he felt almost like he was going back to the ’60s listening to this album. Lenny seemed very supportive of Elliott. He seemed concerned, he also seemed afraid of Elliott, too, kind of scared of him, intimidated by him. It wasn’t like he was saying, ‘This is unreleasable.’ It was more like he was saying, ‘This is really fucking trippy.’ Continue reading

I’ve been thinking of the kids we went to school with



“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


“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

“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.”

Grace Marks