Around ’97 or so my friend Jon Brion

grantlee

“Around ’97 or so my friend Jon Brion went out and bought about 15 copies of a quiet-voiced singer and gifted guitarist named Elliott Smith. Jon, whose talents have earned him wide admiration as a producer and composer, was on a mission to spread the word about an artist who he himself had just encountered and was beginning to work with. “You have got to hear this!” Jon said. The album was simply called Elliott Smith. It would be followed by the albums Either/Or, XO and Figure 8 before Smith’s death at the terribly young age of 34.

At a time of musical grandiosity, Elliott had emerged with a very contrasting vision. His originality, almost whispered rage and isolation spoke to a generation with the kind of honesty and sophistication not heard since Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band. The album Elliott Smith coincided with my casual friendship with Elliott. He, Jon and I shared many an off-the-cuff night on stage at Largo, colliding like bumper cars as we worked our way through old cover songs, even tackling the Bowie/Queen duet “Under Pressure” one night – none of us with a straight face. I remember those laughs well, just as I recall the impact of encountering Elliott Smith’s artistry for the very first time.”

Grant Lee Phillips