The first thing that happened

©Timothy Greenfield Sanders

“The first thing that happened when I moved to Portland was that I got assigned a locker partner who was supposed to shepherd me around this new place and be my pal or whatever and he stole my Walkman, like, the second day. It was weird. There were no fights but there were mass cliques and just weird attitude, you know, a very ’80s, Breakfast Club kind of situation, which I couldn’t relate to at all.”

Elliott Smith


At any time only a couple things are really cool to do

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“At any time only a couple things are really cool to do, or are popular to do. Everything else is a big gray area, that verges on a black area for most people. That’s the most interesting place to be for me. There’s no bad tricks in music. For example, the Eagles may have trashed certain melodic types of things, but that doesn’t mean those things are ruined. It means you have to take it back from the Eagles and do it right. No thing is unworthy by its nature. People aren’t, and anything creative couldn’t be that way. It’s only discredited by association to somebody, or some band, or some movement that people can’t relate to.”

Elliott Smith

I have big defenses against receiving a compliment

©Charlie Gross

“I have big defenses against receiving a compliment and actually carrying it around with me. I mean, compliments are nice, but I don’t think it’s any accident that there’s so many people who have a hard time accepting them, even though they know that they’re nice. It’s like you don’t want to let in the little bomb that might go off later when it’s retracted. I’ve been really lucky in the last few years. I don’t expect it to always be like that. And I know what it’s like to not be like that…”

Elliott Smith

There’s some stuff that seems to have to be done


“There’s some stuff that seems to have to be done in order to be really popular that’s kind of distasteful. But I’m trying to make interesting music if I can. I didn’t start doing it so that I could strut around and be some sort of celebrity or anything. I feel lucky. I hope that things go well, but that’s not the bottom line.To me that’s something closer to fate than something I can control. I mean, it is my livelihood right now, but I was doing it before it was my livelihood. And if it can’t be my livelihood, then I’ll keep doing it when it’s not my livelihood.”

Elliott Smith