He talked about New York like it was Oz


“He talked about New York like it was Oz. When he found out I’d never been there, that was all he talked about. He talked about how much I’d love it and all the great things you could do there. I don’t think he cared much about Portland. One of the things he told me is that he hated Portland because everybody played music and everybody did the same thing. He wanted to move to New York City so he could meet people who made movies and were artists and did different stuff.”

Bill Santen

He had a show in Boise with the Softies

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“He had a show in Boise with the Softies. And I was back in Portland and I was a mess and nobody knew, and I was like, ‘Elliott Smith, everyone knows he’s a junkie, and I’ll offer him a ride to Boise’. And when we were up there, I told him I was a mess and he told me he had never done it. I was pretty shocked by that. But not really. Once you get in that kind of trouble, you can tell if someone’s been through it or not. Then we were driving back from Boise and I was having a talk with him, saying, ‘I don’t want to go back to Portland, I don’t know what to do, I’m in a mess with everything.’ We were talking about how heroin had taken over the city. I was talking about crossing the Columbia River to get some heroin, and he was like, ‘I’d swim across that river for a piece of carrot cake.’ We spent the next two hours going around looking for carrot cake, after we were having this really heavy moment in the car.”

Bill Santen

I think meeting Elliott would have been different

©Bill Santen

“I think meeting Elliott would have been different had it been six months or one year later. I met him at a strip club where a friend of mine set up a Wednesday night acoustic night. Why at a strip club? I have no fucking idea. Anyway, he played one night and he called me the next week to accompany him to Seattle for a show. So, we became friends through music. I respect/respected him a great deal. His impact on my music? I don’t know. Elliott is a very inspiring person to be around. He makes people feel important. I guess he made me feel important.(…) I have not spoken to Elliott for a long time, but I hope we can work together at some point.”

Bill Santen