Usually, the songs that I like best

©Paul Bergen

Usually, the songs that I like best only take five minutes. I’d never get to them if I didn’t spend a lot of time writing stuff and crossing it out. My room is full of abandoned words.”

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

The only interesting thing about drugs

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©Martin Benjamin

“The only interesting thing about drugs is why do people do them. In and of themselves, they’re very boring. As for drugs in books or in songs, usually they’re a vehicle to talk about dependency or possibility… But the less that I try and put songs in situations that they don’t belong in, the easier it is for me to make them up. To me the point, if there’s a point, is just to make a mood or a feeling or at the most specific to create a mental picture. I just kinda write stuff, and then I look at it and go, ‘Oh, I see what I’m going on about’ or, ‘I don’t know what I’m going on about, but I like how it feels.’ It’s not like there’s any shortage of material in any given person. All you have to do is live a day in order to make record after record after record.”

Elliott Smith

He painted big squares that are one color

“He painted big squares that are one color, but the edges are a little bit of a different color. They’re meant to be seen in an installation, like in a room where they dominate the room. It’s the kind of art that some people just hate, but I really like it. He’s painting these big blocks, these big, static things that don’t change. Everybody’s got things like that in their lives. It’s all the things that they can’t work out. It kind of boils it all down to that, in painting. Stuff like that gets me going a lot more than anybody playing right now that I can think of.”

Elliott Smith


Of course it’s rewarding to see that so many people understand your work


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“Of course it’s rewarding to see that so many people understand your work and appreciate it but I don’t think it’s because I’m the same. I’m definitely not the same as I was some years ago but I reckon that I’m honest in everything I sing or do and maybe people can feel it… That’s true that I take a particular attention to lyrics without concentrating only on them as they just express what I truly feel about things. And as feelings are something that every human being can share, I can understand that some people feel close to what I express through my music. But I don’t think I give myself away, I still have my own secret garden…”

Elliott Smith

It’s very different from the kind of songs that I seem to make up


“[The Marble Index] is very different from the kind of songs that I seem to make up, and it seems very static in a way. It doesn’t move a whole lot, but it’s still really great, and I’m intrigued by that. There’s something really cool about how static and immovable it is – very stream-of-consciousness-like and harmonically kind of droning. Even though I’ve been listening to it over and over again, I still can’t put my finger on what I like about it. But I really do like it.”

Elliott Smith (avril 2000)