I got introduced to Elliott

“I got introduced to Elliott via Mary Lou Lord during an interview with her. She asked me if I was coming to her show at Mercury Lounge that night and when I said I was she said “ you have to check out the opening act, Elliott Smith. He’s a cross between Kurt Cobain and Lou Barlow. I should be opening for him!” Continue reading


I was visiting from St. Louis

“I may be the guy Erik is talking about, here. I was visiting from St. Louis at the time, at the show with some cousins. Hyped him up all trip, and was bummed out by the show. I didn’t know he’d been having problems. The tarp on the chainlink backstage fence hung low in one area and we managed to get the attention of Erik and/or Elliott’s girlfriend at the time. Continue reading

I would see him in Amherst center

jesse mosher
©Tom John Kubik

“I would see him in Amherst center playing guitar in front of the Unitarian church. It was where everyone hung out, smoked weed, hackey sacked , skateboarded. There was a handicapped ramp there, and some low walls. There was usually someone playing guitar there. In 1989 or 90, 7 th grade for me, I remember listening to Elliott doing a song and was mesmerized. It was very powerful compared to the other kids who played. I was a hick kid, from Shutesbury, in the big regional jr. high school. Continue reading

I loved Elliott Smith


“I loved Elliott Smith. He was difficult, and he was depressive, but he was also hilarious, according to people who knew him, and you can see/hear it in interviews. I met him on my birthday, February 20, 2000, in Washington DC, after a gig at the Black Cat. It was an intimate show, a very warm crowd. He was straight, and nervous. He made lots of jokey comments and asides, and interacted with us.
Afterward, he just sort of hovered, shuffled from foot to foot, and looked awkward. I went up to the stage, which was pretty low anyway, to see how he was doing. He sat down on the side of the stage. Continue reading

My first exposure to Elliott Smith


“My first exposure to Elliott Smith came when I was working at a college radio station and he was in the press following his Oscar nomination. I never really heard his material until I caught the video for “Son Of Sam.” The music floored me, it was so different from anything else you would have heard in ’98/’99, but the emotions were so powerful. What’s more, when I was in second grade our class watched The Red Balloon, which the video was based on. For a 7-year-old, that movie was about as dramatic as you could imagine. This made the song’s sentiment sting all the more. And though I’m not down anymore, that song resonates cause there’s a solidarity in knowing someone has a sense of how you feel. Elliott Smith had a gift for that kind of empathy. Continue reading

My introduction to Elliott was one of the saddest moments of my life

“I’m getting over bronchitis. I was about to go to work for the first time in 5 days when I heard the news. Luckily, I was sitting down. Was it a surprise? Not really. He’d looked like death for years, sang the saddest songs ever and canceling shows because of “health reasons” didn’t leave much to the imagination anymore. It’d been going on for so many years and he’d been so out of the spotlight, I’d almost forgotten about him. Almost begun not to care. Kurt Cobain had NOTHING on Elliott when it came to how obvious it was that he didn’t want to be a big rockstar and how hard a time he was dealing with it. “Everybody wants me to ride into the sun but I ain’t gonna go down.” Continue reading

Recently, on a trip to Mexico

©Barbara Cully

“Recently, on a trip to Mexico, I was caught off-guard by a cover of Elliott Smith’s “Between the Bars.” The version sounded so much like Billie Holiday that I was instantly dumbfounded. How, I wondered, could Billie Holiday cover Elliott Smith? – it was impossible. Slightly less impossible was Smith’s song as a cover of Billie Holiday. But this didn’t sit right either, and so when I learned that the performer in question was Madeleine Peyroux, I was relieved, even pleased. I’ve always thought of Elliott Smith as a musician whose sound and sensibility are deliberately at odds. Peyroux’s version only confirmed this impression for me; hers is a languid, slinking, sonorous rendition, one that displays a wide range of expression and phrasing. Smith’s harmonies and melodies just aren’t as extravagant. Continue reading

Kurt Cobain wasn’t ours

©Bill Wadman

“Kurt Cobain wasn’t ours, in Portland. As suburban middle-schoolers who mass-transited it into town every weekend to pick up our copies of The Rocket, we loved Nirvana, naturally. But after the suicide, my punk-rock songwriting pal and I felt a little bit angryleft behind. And so we were excited about the beginnings of Candy Ass Records, each of us devoting hard looks to each new CD from the label that showed up at Ozone on Burnside, across from Powell’s. We didn’t need it to become as big a deal as Sub Pop; we just wanted something we could get next to from the start. Continue reading