Jim Keltner’s drumming is imprinted in my brain

jim keltner john lennon

“Jim Keltner’s drumming is imprinted in my brain on so many of my favorite songs (and most likely some of yours, too!) esp by ex-Beatles. I never saw him play live, but I did see him in-person one time back in the day at Largo. He was sitting a couple tables away and Elliott Smith was really chatting him up. I could sense Elliott’s reverence and wish I could have heard whatever stories he was getting from Jim. Lord knows he’s got plenty.”

Brady Harris

I think he’s widely misunderstood

joshua black wilkins(1)
© Joshua Black Wilkins

“I think he’s widely misunderstood. There was beauty to what he did and there will never be another one like him, ever. A lot of people think that it’s just about writing sad lyrics, but the reason Elliott Smith is so good is because he was who he was. He spent his life in a lot of pain and no matter how much some kid thinks that he can be Elliott Smith, he can’t. And if he was, it would kill him.”

Justin Townes Earle (1982 – 2020)

I saw Elliott Smith play solo years ago at a bar

alison klein
©Alison Klein

“I saw Elliott Smith play solo years ago at a bar. It was really loud, and then it started getting louder because all these people started howling like raging freaks to be quiet – “shut up motherfucker!”- which made it louder. And Elliott Smith was like, “Yo…” Well, he didn’t say “Yo, baby, it’s cool.” Elliott Smith did not say that. But he was like, “Listen, in a bar, people will buy alcohol and talk loudly and it’d be nice if everyone was quieter, but that’s not how it is. There’s not a whole lot you can do about it.” And everyone was just like [blank stare]. It was the craziest Jedi mind trick I’ve ever seen. Both sides were like, “He’s right,” and then just watched the show.”

Travis Morrison

It was an honour to hang out with him in New York

60ft dolls

“Either/Or’ was permanently in the van CD player for about a year. It was an honour to hang out with him in New York while we were doing the second album. We were drinking in a bar, just us and the barmaid and a really drunk guy in a baseball cap at the end of a the bar. I spotted his bull tattoo and recognised it as Elliott’s. Someone said, “Hey Elliott” and he looked up – it was him. He was smashed and very upset about something, so we ended up joining him and hit it off. He was going to play guitar on our ‘Joya Magica’ record, but it never happened in the end. I was mortified when he died. The guy was an actual, real life genius.”

Carl Bevan


Elliott Smith chose to make the songs

©Isaac Gillespie

“Elliott Smith chose to make the songs that fewer people really needed rather than those that more people didn’t and that’s why the people who love him really love him. His songs work like hymns; they tell you, yes, the hard times are really true and you’re not alone in visiting them. Elliott Smith will never tell you everything is gonna be alright; that’s up to you to decide. He says something more powerful and more needed — I see your suffering and can tell you it’s true.”
Isaac Gillespie

It’s interesting that you mentioned Elliott Smith

sun kil moon austin

“It’s interesting that you mentioned Elliott Smith as I’m in the city right now where I very last saw him – Stockholm. It was July 5, 2000. We did a short tour together over here and the last time we spoke was on July 4 in Göteborg. Honestly, Elliott looked very stressed out, there in the food court of the Accelerator Festival in Stockholm. I ran off with some friends and didn’t bother to say goodbye to him. Continue reading

You could have known Beck

“You could have known Beck before he was big time. You might have met Elliott Smith in another dimension before he was also big time. He thought you were cool because you knew Beck and once when you heard Elliott play live in a coffee shop for a crowd of 30 teenage girlies, you told him ‘No, Elliott, I’m not cool for knowing Beck. If knowing anyone is what makes me cool, it’s knowing you because your damn voice sounds like angels singing, your voice just made me and a grown man cry. Then Elliott got big time and everyone got to hear angels singing and everyone was made to cry, even if just in their hearts.”

Grace Marks

The indies are just a cover up

nate pottker
©Nate Pottker

“The indies are just a cover up for major labels and the scrap heap of talent is piling up. The cruel end is that in five years from now, people like Paul Westerberg and Hayden and Elliott Smith and E…, all these people aren’t going to be able to make major records anymore. No one will want them because they’re not huge money-makers. The days of labels encouraging offbeat talent are over.

It’s happening now, where Elliott got a lot of critical attention at first, and now some people can’t remember who he is.”
Bob Forrest (décembre 1999)