“Sometime in late spring/early summer 1994, Laurian , me and the other 2 members of our band drove our crappy van (named Sal, because it had been rescued from a salvage yard in Sacramento and the engine was almost dead) 25 MPH over the mountain passes from CA to OR to record an album in Portland with Thee Slayer Hippy (Drummer for Poison Idea and producer – Heatmiser, Hard Ons etc.).
“I remember him coming off a tour with some rental car and just stuffing all the stuff that had been in the car under some work benches under our back room. Years and years go by, and I was like, “Damn, Elliott left all his junk here.” I pull all his stuff out, and it’s like a ten dollar bill, guitar picks, a road map, a Hank Williams, Jr. cassette, and then letters from fans and their albums. He must have picked up a batch of fan mail somewhere. It wasn’t ever going to register.
Even as his friend, my band at the time was Elephant Factory, and I remember pressing our CD and handing it to him. He’d come to our shows and be supportive, but I remember giving him the CD and going “He’s never gonna listen to this.” I would have other people I knew telling me “Can you give Elliott a copy of my record?” And I’d say “You don’t even want me to do that.”
“I spent a few months in Paris. There’s a very special bond between french people and me. People here are really interested in my lyrics and they’re always willing to talk after the show. European people do understand some things that American people will never get.”
“There will be people who will check him out because of his death, but I think it will plateau after awhile, and in the future, there’s going to be some kind of revival. I think that his music will come into its own even more. And at that point, his work will overshadow his death, but there is also the unfortunate point of his death becoming mythologized and adding to what I’d term a negative appreciation, to have someone lionize him as a troubled, drug-addict genius. There’s nobody around here in Portland who has that point of view, but we don’t really have control over his legacy, either.”
“After moving to Olympia in ‘92, I usually played an acoustic guitar and my songs, though still fueled by the same substances, mania, and demons as before had evolved into more conventional, if somewhat overwrought, pop tunes with pseudo-messianic and covertly psychedelic overtones. I played out and toured quite a bit between 92 and 2000.
In summer of 1995, I put on this show (which was something I almost never did) at The Midnight Sun in downtown Olympia. I thought Elliott’s solo songs were great (He was still usually billed as “Elliott Smith from Heatmiser” at this point) so I got his number from Lois and called him up. He was living in Portland at the time and I promised him we’d at least give him gas money if he could make it up. He was into it.
“I don’t feel like I’m becoming a pop star. But I mean, who knows?”
“Well, I’m sitting in Portland, Oregon, right now, after postponing part of our tour. Here to spend time with loved ones and attend memorial services for our beloved friend. Portland is where I first met Elliott, but I really came to know him in L.A. I feel very lucky to have been a part of his life and he a part of mine. He was so warm and generous. I learned so much from him, not just musically, but in life as a whole. He was inspiring, hilarious, hyperintelligent and completely frustrating.
But there was always a lesson to be learned from his positives and negatives. I went over to his house so that he could help me out with a song I was stuck on.
“I did a couple of tours with him when I was playing in a band called Those Bastard Souls. We were touring with Sebadoh and Elliott was opening the shows before the whole “Good Will Hunting” thing so he was opening solo, and you know, he’s incredible. And also, he’s just such a very kind, gentle person. You know, troubled, at times, as we all are, at times. It was really disheartening to hear about what was going on after he died. Because you always hope that people come together when someone dies. When you die as a young person it seems like it’s so shocking and so difficult to digest. It’s sad when people are angry at each other and calling names and stuff. So, that’s what that song is about.”