“I used to do catering at the Fillmore in San Francisco so I used to serve all the bands and watch all their sound checks. Elliott Smith was touring Figure 8 for two nights and both days for his sound check played the entire Abbey Road medley to warm up. A blast to see cause he didn’t play any of it during the shows themselves.It was June 5 + 6 of 2000. I still have the posters, one is framed above my LPs and stereo. It was one of my fondest memories of doing catering at the Fillmore. He seemed very sad that day but was most likely just shy. I actually know his music quite well and was a big fan and will always cherish sitting in the box by the sound man listening to Elliott and the band play the medley to just the crew and staff of the Fillmore. I am still looking to see if he ever played it in an actual show.”
“I don’t know how that story developed around Everything Means Nothing to Me. I mean, I don’t know why he told that story to David McConnell, and I’m not sure I’d like to know. He probably didn’t think it would spread and become some kind of post-mortem statement adding to the nauseating pile of hindsight wisdom meant to “explain” him and his alleged “suicide”. It really bothers me. That song was very important to him, but not in any negative or self indulgent way. When he discussed it with me in early 2000, there wasn’t any blood or drama involved, it was still a “new” song at the time, and he was proud and protective of it. Continue reading →
“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 →
“He played the Palace two nights in a row in Hollywood during the Figure 8 tour. I remember on the second night after the show I was with friends hanging in the parking lot after the show when we see him walk out the back door of the Palace. We walk over to him and say hello, nice show, blah blah blah. I didn’t say a word. He bummed a smoke and chit chatted for a minute with my friends. Then he says he has to go…and just starts walking down Vine St. to Hollywood Blvd. where he turned and just kept walking by himself, nothing in hand. After playing 2 sold out nights at a mid sized venue – he just walks out the back door and down the street. How fucking punk rock is that?”
“Saw Elliott in 1996/7 in a small pinball bar in Kansas whilst touring his self titled debut album. Being English in Kansas stood out so i even got to chat to him after the gig. He was a quiet chap who took my enthusiasm well. We chatted about Dischord a lot for some reason and I mentioned Nick Drake as simple base English comparison to him. He had no idea who Nick Drake was, I felt silly.”
“It was a very macho environment, very different from Olympia. Very hypocritical, claiming to be different from the norm but really more of the same. I can remember there being a lot of animosity towards Elliott going solo. My hunch is that he was really rejected by the Portland scene, at least a lot of people. It was a very incestuous and dark little scene. Continue reading →
“When I do a small thing, a thing to help someone out, and they thank me–quietly, maybe shyly–I feel a sense of gratitude, a sense of quiet peace that I’ve made a small difference, even if just for a moment. And I think, Did Elliott Smith ever feel like this?
Did anyone ever thank him for songs–not the loud, often fake cheering that goes on at a concert, or the scary stalking letter of devotion and “you see my soul.” No, I wonder if ever that shy person, overwhelmed by the world and alone, listening to his songs and getting through one more day despite the world’s best effort to break him or her, did Elliott ever hear thanks from them? Did he know what his songs meant? Did he hear from the ones with no voice, too alone to talk, the ones who felt it inside? The ones for whom his songs were the one thing that made some kind of sense, that gave them a gift of beauty?
“I used to work late nights at Johnny Rockets as a server. I was closing one night and was able to catch his Kinks tribute show, which I think was at the Derby. It’s a small place and I almost didn’t want to bother him. All I had on me was this dorky hat, and all my friends scrounged up a pen. I went up to him after the show, he was smoking a cigarette, I waited because I didn’t want to bother him. Just then, another fan asked for his autograph and I saw my chance. He was very polite and we struck up a small conversation about music. He asked me if I liked the Kinks and I replied that the Smiths were my favorite band, he said: “I like the Smiths, too”. Great fucking guy. My heart gets heavy remembering this. Sometimes I wish I would have used this moment to tell him how much he meant to me and that he saved me when I was most alone in life. Elliott was there, but I didn’t tell him. Sometimes I wonder if it would have made a difference, but it is what it is.
And I’ll always have that moment with my hero.
I love you Elliott and I miss you.
But I know you will always be there for me. See you soon,
“I actually got to meet Elliott at a solo acoustic show less than a year ago. He played the club I bounce at in Echo Park.
Before the show, I went up to him and shook his hand.
We spoke for a few minutes, and he was a genuinely sweet man. The show he played was a benefit. Realizing this, he didn’t submit any kind of guest list. Instead, he gave a list of names to the door person and handed over $15 per person on that list so they could have a ticket waiting for them at the door and have nothing taken away from the cause.
I had never seen anything like this, and I doubt I ever will again.