“I’m going to hit a period pretty soon where I don’t talk about that song [Late]and let it explain itself. I’ve always had an allergy to someone who goes, ‘Oh, I don’t want to explain my songs,’ but in this case, he’s got friends and family, and I don’t need to be the multimedia spokesman for the death of someone I knew for a couple of weeks. I really loved his music and I thought he was a great guy. And I was moved to write a song for him.”
“We toured together for a few weeks…a good tour. He was a talented guy. Yeah, I mean, he was playing before me, then I played, then Beck played afterwards. We hung out a little bit, but not much. I didn’t really know him that well, but I liked him. He was a great guy. You know, when you’re on tour, you don’t get that much of a chance to hang out. I was usually just traveling. But we got along well. I was really sad when he died.
Late wasn’t a hard song to write. It may have been a little difficult to decide that it’s OK to release it, but all in all, it was fairly easy writing. It was just a matter of cutting out anything necessary that wasn’t absolutely true, if that makes any sense. It was about keeping the song really honest, and keeping it to what I know. I didn’t try to make a big concept about it.”
“I wanted to write about the Elliott Smith that I saw on tour, who seemed shy and fragile one minute then playing super aggressive basketball the next, whose music got me through some hard times , and when I felt bad about playing some gross club with profanity scrawled all over the ceiling, I knew Elliott was out there somewhere making beautiful music in the middle of the same kind of stink. Poets are inspired because they look up at the same sky that Wordsworth used to look at. I was inspired because I looked up at the same starscape of ‘Dookie,’ ‘Nirvana Sux’ and ‘Eat Me’ that Elliott used to look up at. Hopefully people will hear the song and five more people will go out and buy his records or think about what he meant. If it keeps him alive for another few minutes, then I accomplished what I wanted to do.”