While Chiba eventually became


“While Chiba eventually became Smith’s girlfriend, in the weeks after his Neurotransmitter Restoration Center treatment (in August 2002), Smith was in need of care more than romance. He may have become healthier in some ways after his rehab treatment, but his strength was gone.”

Benjamin Nugent

He was extremely restrained


“He was extremely restrained; he didn’t make the kind of brash, anthemic statements rock musicians are often given to. In a way he was an anti-Dylan. He loved Dylan’s music and covered ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’ in concert, but he took it away from strident stances and into a personal, ironic place. And he was different from Kurt Cobain because he was not into youth slogans or grandiose statements.
His songs provided at least the illusion of great intimacy with the artist. I think people make the mistake of thinking they afford more intimacy than they do. The real Elliott Smith is a lot more hidden.”

Benjamin Nugent

Half of the album, as far as I can tell

©Benjamin Nugent

“Half of the album, as far as I can tell, was made with David McConnell in this sort of druggy phase, and half of it was made afterwards in Elliott’s own studio [New Monkey in Van Nuys] after he moved in with Jennifer Chiba, and there’s these two very distinct moods, and the songs sound very different” Nugent explains over the phone from New York City, adding that Smith’s preferred opening track, “Shooting Star,” was moved to twelfth on the album, and other potentially close-to-the-bone songs such as “Abused” and “Suicide Machine” were left off entirely. “Rob Schnapf is a really brilliant guy, and he did a great job with the album, but Elliott Smith pretty explicitly did not want Rob Schnapf being the producer on the album. So in a lot of ways, it’s kind of astonishing.”

Benjamin Nugent