“The circumstances surrounding his death don’t sit well with me at all, but there was only other person there, so nobody will ever know. He wasn’t around the type of people where I could know for sure what would happen any more. He was surrounded by sycophants, so who knows what could have happened? He had talked about suicide for many years, but he was always such a chicken about getting hurt! And there had been times in the past where suicide seemed more likely.”
“I grew up in the Silver Lake area and went to junior high down the street from the Sound Solutions wall. I came up with the idea of using the weird murals on Sunset that I’d been obsessing over since I was little. It was the ugliest mural I’d ever seen, and eventually the most beautiful because I looked at it almost everyday. So I took Polaroids of a bunch of murals up and down Sunset Boulevard, and I’d always loved that photo of NickDrake leaning against a brick wall looking down the street while a blurred picture of a girl (sic) runs by. I said at a meeting with Elliott, “What if you’re unaware of the color around you, and you’re just walking through or leaning against the wall, and you don’t realize how electric it is?” And he was, like, “I love that idea.” He was really into it being like a journey through this part of L.A.”
“I’ve just received a hefty volume aboutElliottSmiththat’s been put together by the photographer Autumn De Wilde. Flicking through, it looks great, and it really hammers home something that bugs the shit out of me when people often talk or write about Smith. It’s just too easy to write about him as this “troubled”, “unhappy”, “doomed” figure, to spend an hour with a profoundly shy man and divine from it that he was somehow not long for this world. Of course, Smith had problems: at times, when I was never quite sure whether he was talking on or off the record, he was fairly explicit about them to me. But really, the habit of simplifying his life into one inexorable downward spiral winds me up time and time again; it reminds me, too, how glib writers can come across – and i’ve certainly been guilty of this – when they try and psychoanalyse their subjects. Continue reading →
“I think what’s difficult about knowing somebody that was so incredibly good at what they do is that you are burdened with the knowledge that there were a whole bunch of things they were not good at. It’s hard, then, to remain an obsessed fan. It’s hard because you can hear the voices of the people who were disappointed and hurt, who were hurt for very, very valid reasons. But I was an obsessed fan who got to take his pictures, who had to grapple with the reality of the real man, which was sometimes amazing and sometimes incredibly disappointing. Continue reading →
“She was talking a lot about that movie, “La Jetée”, which I think is really cool. It’s all stills, except for one little moment where someone’s eyes open, and that’s the only moving part of it. There was some of that and some… not trying to cop “The Red Balloon”, but there was something kind of interesting about following around an inflated thing. It could represent many things: definitely something that you have some desire for in some way or another. “
“He was sexy. There were a lot of girls he was trying to get rid of by the end of the night! The thing is, when I photograph someone who has a face that’s accepted by society as beautiful, then we have a real problem, because no one believes that person could write a song or a book or a poem or a painting. They are treated by society as, “No, you’re supposed to be the sculpture that I stare at. You are David.” It’s a much bigger challenge to make someone traditionally beautiful, male or female, look like they have had a hard day or could write a song about a broken heart.”
“The people that were really friends with Elliott always questioned whether or not they were. They saw how Elliott went from best friend to best friend every night. He would just go somewhere and spill his guts, and that person would think that he or she and Elliott Smith had had a poignant evening.
That was what my first experience with Elliott was. I just happened to know better, that I wasn’t special in his life.”