Elliott Smith only ever made me uncomfortable once

©Joshua Wildman

Elliott Smith only ever made me uncomfortable once. It was in 1998, and we were sitting in a small group over coffee at the Pink Pony on Ludlow Street. In the way that coffee-shop conversations inevitably do, this one evolved into a roundtable dynamic: we began trading childhood war stories. Where are you from? was the first question. What was that like? was the next.

“I grew up in Texas,” Elliott answered.

And what was that like?

His expression turned blank, his body tense. “I don’t wanna talk about that today.” Continue reading

Even though I knew Elliott Smith outside of the industry

©Brian Maryansky

“Even though I knew Elliott Smith outside of the industry, I feel lucky to have recorded one of our conversations for a feature that ran in  Alternative Press and later appeared in my book. It’s a day that’s been etched into record, whose words I don’t need to paraphrase. There are pictures from that day for when my memory fails me, so I can actually tell you what Elliott was wearing: a black t-shirt, blue jeans, black socks, and a thick-soled brown shoe. (It was a humid day in Brooklyn, so no, he was not wearing a stocking cap.) There are even notes: he lived five flights up in a Park Slope tenement building, back when Fourth Avenue was where you went to change your tires, not change your life. It was considerably warm outside, so we sat in his living room — away from the windows — and drank from ice cold Coke cans. When the interview was over, we talked about Ry Cooder and Poison Idea and that time people started yelling for Elliott’s solo songs at a Heatmiser show I saw at the Mercury Lounge. He was mortified by that. Continue reading

Joshua Kessler took this photo at Elliott’s apartment

norman B

“Joshua Kessler took this photo at Elliott’s apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn, right off Fifth Avenue, as part of a feature story I was writing for Alternative Press. I showed up at his place right when they began to shoot, and I remember being greeted as if I were an old friend — which was bizarre because Elliott and I had only met once before, in a dark nightclub, two years prior to that.

 When we finally sat down to do the interview, it was almost effortless. He asked as much about me as I did about him, and I felt like it was only fair that I answer him. I wish I still had that tape. Continue reading