“Please remember I’ve only been working with Elliott for a little while, so I’m still finding out some of the things you guys are asking about. There’s what I know… In November , I was in L.A. and went to Elliott’s house – he played about eight tracks to [my wife] Jennifer and me. Some of the tracks had vocals, most of them were in a “full band” mode with him playing all of the instruments. There was one song that totally rocked that had Steven from the Lips and the drummer from Beachwood Sparks both playing drums at the same time. The tracks that didn’t have vocals, he sat next to me and sang the words – it was amazing! Continue reading
“Cleaning up today and found the lyrics and notes that Elliott Smith wrote when we were working on an album together back in 2001.”
“Many years ago, a friend of mine named Chris did some tracking with Elliott for his last record. He said Elliott had a stash of old old recording gear he liked to track with. Valve and solid state stuff I think. Did he ever bring any toys to the party when you were working with him? Chris let me listen to a couple of acoustic guitar takes. I was knocked out by how clean and effortless his fingerpicking was, beautiful. I hope all is well with you.”
“Puisque j’ai de la place, une petite note informative à l’attention des futurs chroniqueurs de From a basement on the hill, pour leur éviter de tomber dans le piège “décortiquons les paroles pour y trouver des raisons à son suicide” (écueil dans lequel même Nick Kent est tombé). Voici donc la date (et le lieu, accessoirement) à laquelle les chansons de l’album ont été pour la première fois jouées en live. Continue reading
“A lot of my favorite things on that record were recorded years ago, finished years ago. I think the classic, ‘recently deceased artist’ myth is going to take over. People who are misty-eyed are going to go, ‘This is what he was doing before he departed us,’ but a lot of those songs have been around for years.”
“It is bittersweet that one of Elliott Smith’s finest albums would be one which was released posthumously. From a Basement on the Hill is a masterwork of dexterity and achievement, with Smith exploring his love of The Beatles’ recording techniques. Using an array of instruments, the album was largely made at Smith’s home studio. It was left unfinished when Smith tragically took his own life in 2003, his family and friends collaborated after he passed so that the album would see the light of day. It is the one grace to come from the terrible event, for From a Basement on the Hill is one of the strongest and most powerful records of the last twenty years. King’s Crossing is a song about Smith’s demons, as well as his disillusion with the Music scene at the time. ‘The method acting that pays my bills keeps a fat man feeding in Beverly Hills’ he sang, lamenting the exploitation of his emotions to generate record sales. This is my top Elliott Smith record, which I revisit very regularly. I love the visual portraits Smith creates within this song. It is so full of regret, hopelessness and contemplation; be it about his career, his addictions or his existence. Powerful stuff.”
“Let this dignified CD not be the start of a multi-label Elliott Smith refabrication issuing forth several unsatisfactory “best-of” collections bittersweetened with rarities and “never-before-heard” vault finds and overdubbed demos. Fans of Tupac, Nick Drake, Johnny Cash, the Beatles and Jeff Buckley may maintain a philosophy of the-more-the-merrier regarding posthumous releases, but I’m always reminded by them of Steven Patrick Morrissey’s ominous verses from the Smiths’ “Paint A Vulgar Picture”: Continue reading
“I’m just crazy about Elliott Smith’s From A Basement On The Hill – the lyrics, the music, everything about it is fantastic. There’s something about his vocal melodies that I love – they remind me of John Lennon and The Beatles. It’s sad music, yes, but I don’t feel sad when I hear it and I listen to it all the time. And when I listen to it, I think about nothing else. It’s beautiful.”
“My boyfriend at the time, David McConnell, played in the band Goldenboy with Shon Sullivan, who played with Elliott. Elliott came over one day, and he stayed for six weeks. He never left during that time. I was in awe of his talent, so it was a little awkward. He recorded in my bedroom for a while. I’d fall asleep and wake up and there’d be Elliott Smith, singing across my sleeping body. It was an odd situation and terribly upsetting in certain ways. He obviously had a huge substance-abuse situation going on. At various times, I thought he was going to off himself in the house. It was something he talked about a lot, and a lot of it was said because he wanted to hurt DreamWorks.
He wanted to make a point to them by killing himself. They’d record for days and days without sleeping. David would come up and say, “I feel like an athlete who’s been waiting his whole life to run in the Olympics and I’m being told to slow down.” They’d record these really amazing tracks, and Elliott would say, “It sounds too good. Fuck it up, please.” It’s like slashing a painting a little bit if you’re a producer or engineer. Elliott was convinced the mixes he did here were the ones he wanted, and he’d beg David to destroy the masters because he was afraid someone would put out different mixes of the record—which, in fact, they did. David couldn’t bring himself to destroy the masters. I guess the ultimate irony is that Elliott was completely straight at the end. He was not on any substances.
And just to clarify, the album he recorded at your studio is From A Basement On The Hill.
Yes. I actually have the mixes he wanted. I’ve never done anything with them. I don’t know what to do with them.
Has anyone asked?
No. They went to his previous producer and had him re-do everything. [Smith’s original mixes] are rougher, they’re not as polished. He wanted to go back to a more raw sound. He wanted it desperately—all he really talked about was wanting to go back to before they polished him up.”
“Many people have deemed From a Basement on the Hill as little more than a musical suicide note. In tandem with this article, I believe that by having the poem, which he asked me to write, published on the internet that a well-needed spin will be placed on the popular interpretation that is not only facile, but also, to a large degree, damning of his bravely honest work: one portraying the painful, heartfelt and rewarding struggle to heal after years of abuse as opposed to report it as he had on previous albums.”