??!! This Morning I Forgot That Elliott Smith Was Dead
posted by March 31 at 13:15 PMon
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.