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Monday, March 31, 2008

This Morning I Forgot That Elliott Smith Was Dead

posted by on March 31 at 13:15 PM

figure8cover.jpg

Figure 8 isn’t my favorite Elliott Smith record, but it’s a great one. “Son of Sam” is a fantastic opening track. I love the way the bright, parlor piano contrasts the distorted guitar that crashes the whole song after he sings “Kiiiiing for a daaaaay!”

The embittered, but reluctantly empowered “Somebody I Used to Know”… “L.A.”… every song is so good.

The track that always gets me is “Everything Means Nothing to Me.” The perfectly graceful piano, the soft chorus of Smith’s voice, slowly being layered over itself again and again to form a sad little choir—it’s almost like he’s haunting himself in the song.

“Everything means nothing to me… everything means nothing to me… everything means nothing to meee….”

The piano gets louder, slowly. Then the drums hit, unexpectedly. And the strings. My favorite part is when the strings come in with the drums at about the 1:20 mark. The strings come in strong before fading out slow. His voice keeps echoing itself. “Everything means nothing to me… everything means nothing to me… everything means nothing to meee….” In the end, all that’s left is the fading piano and the haunting ghost of a symphony.

“Man, I bet this song is amazing live,” I thought. Then I recalled the few times I did see Smith. One time hardly counts—it was the really tragic show at the Showbox when he was too drunk/stoned/crazy to play through an entire song without messing up, apologizing, pausing, and starting again.

“He hasn’t toured in a long time,” I thought. “I wonder…”

Then the chill hit and I remembered—Elliott Smith is dead. He killed himself or someone killed him, but no matter what happened in the hours, minutes, and seconds before it happened, he still ended up with a knife through his heart.

How did I forget that?

His corpse was the most popular Halloween costume that year. It was the most talked about news story in music, mostly because it brought up the possibility for the suicide vs. murder conspiracy theories that still ring loudly over a decade after Kurt’s gunshot to the brain.

But while I sang along to Figure 8, I forgot all of that. Somehow, this morning, I completely forgot that Elliott Smith was dead.

It was so weird.

RSS icon Comments

1

yeah, how DID you forget that?

everything means nothing to me kills on many levels. there is a time when the piano is especially meditative- sounds like radiohead. when the drums come in, i think about the soft bulletin.

that song is so brian wilson, so chord-y and formal. elliott was a great guitar player, but also a fine piano writer.

i read a biography about him, but it was not illuminating.

it's an incredible album, but not my favorite either.

XO is his best, but either/or is the one he ought to be remembered for.

i love elliott smith forever

Posted by ndrwmtsn | March 31, 2008 3:09 PM
2

I didn't get to see him live. So disappointing...

Posted by MK | March 31, 2008 3:49 PM
3

I didn't get to see him. So disappointing...

Posted by MK | March 31, 2008 3:50 PM
4

i think it should be a credit to the incredible talent he had that when you listen to him you don't think of his personal life-you're focusing on his songs. still, so sad and such a waste, whatever the cause.

-j

Posted by j | April 1, 2008 12:30 PM
5

Monique is right. Line Out is the new Slog. At least until '08 rolls by...

Posted by Mr. Poe | April 1, 2008 3:28 PM

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