Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf mixed my last record

“Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf mixed my last record, Either/Or, and I’ve recorded a couple things with them before. I’m used to them, and we operate in the same way. It’s them on the cover of XO. Rob’s wearing an Afro wig. He looks really good with an Afro; he should grow one. We were playing basketball, but you can’t see the basketball, so it looks like we’re doing this weird apelike dance. Which is even better.”

Elliott Smith

Amity is a really unguarded song

©Timothy Donovan

Amity is a really unguarded song – I made up the lyrics in a couple of minutes and didn’t change them. I like the way it feels, although it’s not an especially deep song at all. It’s, I don’t know… just a big rock song. It’s a pretty simple song. It’s not so much about the words themselves, but more about how the whole thing sounds. Some friends of mine said it sounded like I was trying to get something romantic going with someone, and that’s not what it was supposed to be about. It was supposed to be, “you’re really fun to be with and I really like you a lot because of that, but I am really, really depressed” – but I don’t know if that came across. When I said, “ready to go,” it was supposed to mean tired of living. Sorry to make the song depressing for you now. Amity is a person I know. It was very simple. I was saying, “I really like you and it’s really great to hang out with someone who is happy and easy-going, but I don’t feel like that and I can’t be with you.”

Elliott Smith


“Oh well, okay” is slow and quiet

©Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

“Oh well, okay” is slow and quiet and sort of describes a silhouette of someone… It would sound ridiculous to talk about it too much, but essentially it’s about how a silhouette is permanently turned away from you. The person is being described as if they were this photograph. And they weren’t always turned away from me, but now they are and they seem to stay like that. It’s kind of a sad song.”

Elliott Smith

I was actually thinking about someone


“I was actually thinking about someone in particular for that one [Independence Day], which is really… I almost never do that. It’s just a friend of mine from New York named Josh and just, you know – it was kind of like, an optimistic song, sort of being like – just relax, you have everything you need to be happy but you’ve just got to wait a little bit. I was just kind of thinking of him when i made it up.”

Elliott Smith

I said, ’What’s in the bag, Elliott?’

©Andy Factor

I said, ’What’s in the bag, Elliott?’ And he said, ‘I’m writing some music.’ And then he pulled out this orchestrated piece that he was putting together with notes and everything, and I was like, ‘Holy shit, Elliott!’ That’s when I first knew he was onto something.  It was a lot more than what even I had anticipated. .. When he started working with very big musical people, it really opened his curiosity, and he felt like he had the chance to make the record that maybe only a studio can provide. He uses the resources that are around him very naturally. He had the resources to make a record that shows a side of him that not a lot of people knew existed. It’s just the beginning. This was just his first time with a budget. It’s going to get very, very interesting in the future. This record is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Mary Lou Lord



George Martin has actually written a letter to me

©Joanna Bolme

“George Martin has actually written a letter to me after listening to one of my records, I think it was “XO”. Absolutely unreal. I almost fainted. He wrote that he liked my music and that I should call him if I came to London sometime. I did, but he was abroad. Just as well, I would probably not have been able to talk to him. It all had suddenly become a little too much.”

Elliott Smith