Steve found this robot that had these guns that came out


“Steve found this robot that had these guns that came out, and there was a guy behind the counter who would light the lyrics on fire. And it’d burn up part of the counter top and we’d have to go ‘OK, let’s do it again.’ Clean off the counter top, then here comes the robot, then burn the lyrics. I don’t know, it was kind of fun, watching the lyrics burn.”

Elliott Smith

On several songs there’s some imagery that keeps popping up

©Charlie Gross

“On several songs there’s some imagery that keeps popping up about soldiers, or doing battle with something. On that particular song, “Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud”, I just thought that it was an interesting question. I don’t know what the answer is, to that. Sometimes it seems like “No”… I wanted it to seem equally plausible to answer it “No” or “Yes”.You can’t answer to some sort of authority that you don’t even know who they are, or what it is. That song wasn’t meant to be specifically addressed to my parents, it’s just an abstract authority that sees you in some mainstream terms. Would they like how your life seems to be? Would they be disappointed? Would they be impressed? Does any of this matter? Or are any of the answers negative, some of them positive?”

Elliott Smith

Most writers aren’t very good judges of their own material



“Most writers aren’t very good judges of their own material. They’ll think one thing is good, because it works, whereas other people might like the thing that didn’t really work, but was way more interesting. Writers opt more for songs that work well than they opt for the songs that represent personal growth, and that poor choice often slows your writing down a lot.”

Elliott Smith  

The records I listen to


“The records I listen to like that don’t always turn up in my music in any tangible way. As much as I like the Stooges’ Fun House or Raw Power, my records aren’t likely to start sounding like that anytime soon. But there are all kinds of things you can pick up and learn from other people. I like getting a bunch of different emotions together, if possible. It’s like having a bunch of people from different eras at some big weird party and making them all talk to each other. I think it creates tension, and tension is one of my favorite parts of songs.”

Elliott Smith

Brad Mehldau – Sky Turning Grey (2010)

“I have [heard his version of Bottle Up & Explode]. It blew me away; I couldn’t believe it. I’ve seen him play once or twice. It was extremely flattering that he found my song interesting enough to play in his show. He heard things in it, some of which I could hear in it but didn’t feel I could do any more than imply because, after all, it’s supposed to be a rock song. He brought out a lot of the implied harmonic things in it, and then added a bunch of stuff that I would have never thought of. And, of course, his technique is a million miles beyond mine. It was incredible. He’s amazing.”

Elliott Smith