Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Feature Special: Elliott Smith

This one time listening to my favorite record label's Spotify list, I came across with a song called Roman Candle. It captivated me from the first second until the very end. That song changed it all.

I remember sharing the first few songs I listened from him to my friend, who after the second time asked: "What's this Elliott Smith thing you got going on now?"

After two years I still can't say what hit me. Obviously, he was a talented artist and had the most angelic voice, but I guess it's the emotional factor. Elliott's debut album was there to accompany me when I had left many dear friends and a dear place. Misery loves company, they say.

Each new song I heard, I was like wow. It didn't take too much time for me to think that this guy was actually better than Bon Iver and Iron & Wine, the two other singer-songwriters I love a lot. And that is a lot said. A lot.

I wont' be listing any facts about Elliott, Wikipedia is for that. This is more of trying to explain why I like his music so much. As you can read it's not that easy- not everything can be everyone's cup of tea, which is what I said to a friend who didn't get Elliott's music. Yet, in my mind I was thinking "dude, how can you NOT GET IT?".

Last autumn when I spent my days writing my thesis I placed six of his albums in our CD player, so I'd have suitable music in the background playing repeatedly. You could just hear how the music had developed from album to next. It had developed in a way that it took me until this summer to hear all the beauty the latter records had to offer. Man, his skills.

At the moment I'm reading a book by Autumn de Wilde (who directed the video above), a famous rock photographer and a friend of Elliott. The book has all the pictures used in the video and many interviews with people close to the artist. It's funny how we often make assumptions of people we don't know at all! Or in this case no assumption at all, but still to get to know more about his personality makes his music even more worth-while. The book makes you laugh and cry. Sometimes at the same time.

The most surprising thing of all was to realize that he had been nominated for an Oscar. That moment in 1998 and when Arcade Fire won a Grammy for best album in 2011 are probably the biggest moments in indie music.

The first thing Elliott said to me after the Oscars was that it didn't matter that there were a hundred million people watching and a huge audience and that it was on TV. The only person he could see was Jack Nicholson sitting there staring at him. He said it just freaked him out. He couldn't get past the fact that  Jack Nicholson was just sitting there right in front of him.
-Dorien, Elliott's roommate in New York

I'm not going to wrap this Special Feature with my favorite Elliott song, but with an unreleased instrumental. The "story" behind it is kind of interesting- it might be that he made it as a homage for himself or it simply is unfinished. Well, either or the song is wistfully optimistic and I'd like it to be played at my funeral.

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