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

Britney Spears, Smash Mouth, N Sync…

©Gene Shaw

“Britney Spears, Smash Mouth, N Sync… I can’t take any of that stuff seriously. When I think about music, that kind of stuff doesn’t really occur to me. It’s not like ‘Oh, this sucks.’ It’s more like, ‘This is music for kids in junior high.’ And not even all the kids in junior high – this is music for the winners, and for the kids who think they can be popular. But then there are also all the kids who aren’t on the football team, so…it doesn’t really irritate me. It just has nothing to do with me or anyone I know. But yeah, at the moment, you’ve gotta have a sporty mentality or else you get put into the misfit category. And it’s like, ‘I’m not a misfit.’ You know what I mean?'”

Elliott Smith

Elliott had actually done a recording of ‘Hey Jude’

TGS (thanks Jeff Cohen!)
©Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

“Elliott had actually done a recording of ‘Hey Jude’ just a few years back, for none other than “The Royal Tennebaums”. His experience had been embittering. ‘They paid the absolute minimum they could get away with and didn’t even use the recording, after I had gone through a lot of trouble to put the session together, especially for the “nah nah nah” chorus at the end!’, Elliott said, and he was absolutely mortified about the use of “Needle in the Hay” from his self-titled album, during the scene in which Richie Tennenbaum attempts to commit suicide.”That’s the last thing I’d ever want that song to be associated with!” he lamented.”

Andrew Morgan

That image of me


“That image of me as the pale, morose artist, the only people that really buy into it are journalists. They go with the cliche. They don’t really care if it fits or not. It’s always kind of ridiculous to compare what somebody’s doing with records made 30 years ago with only a very passing resemblance. Comparisons don’t take up very much space. I guess that’s their appeal.”

Elliott Smith

The thing I really wanted to help do with this film is shift the mythology

©Sarah McCown

“The thing I really wanted to help do with this film is shift the mythology of Elliott Smith, the sad-sack, depressed guy who made depressed music, the junkie, blah blah blah, when all the other stories I was getting from his friends were, he was this incredibly creative, generous, funny, great-to-be-around friend, brother, lover. He was so much more than how the media summed him up at the end of his life. It was, “Depressed singer-songwriter guy does himself in.” There was so much more to celebrate in Elliott’s career than, ‘yup, sad guy, possibly killed himself.’ There was all this music! And it’s all really amazing music. So why aren’t we remembering that part? Continue reading

As soon as someone calls you a songwriter

sam harris photo
©Sam Harris

“As soon as someone calls you a songwriter, you automatically get the melancholy tag. Also, ‘Why aren’t you playing dance music?’ and ‘Why are your songs so sad?’ They’re just clichés. If it wasn’t those, it would be different ones. You can’t always expect people to relate. There are all kinds of people, and some people understand each other and some people don’t. NSYNC sells nine million records, so there’s nine million people that can relate, and I’m not one of them. So even if you sell millions and millions of albums, there’s always going to be somebody who doesn’t get it. If you want to be creative and do what you do, it’s going to be kind of idiosyncratic.”

Elliott Smith

“Depressing” is a superficial tag

©Todd V. Wolfson

“‘Depressing’ is a superficial tag. Everybody gets a tag. If you listen to a Velvet Underground record you don’t think “Godfathers of Punk.” You just think, “Hey this is cool. It sounds great.” The tags are there in order to help try to sell something by giving it a name that’s going to stick in somebody’s memory, but it doesn’t describe it. So ‘depressing‘ is not word I would use to describe my music, but there is some sadness in it — there has to be, so that the happiness in it will matter.”

Elliott Smith