Thursday, 21 October 2010

In Memoriam - Elliott Smith

I remember October 21, 2003 really well. It was the day my favourite artist, Elliott Smith, died. It was a normal day really, nothing extraordinary happened to make it stand out from any other. I remember that I heard the news and I remember that I went to the supermarket for something and it absolutely poured down. On the way there the radio was playing a recently released R.E.M song called 'Bad Day'. I won't attribute any greater meaning or anything to this weather or this song but both sort of made me think that I didn't wanna be out of the house that evening. I got home a little later and played Elliott's albums back to back like I had a million times before. I wasn't overwhelmed with sadness or loss, I remember just feeling very, very strange.

Seven years have now passed since that day and a lot has happened to me since then. The good and the bad, the ups and the downs. Nothing more or less than this life game promises us all, I suppose. Elliott's music, however, has always been a constant. He remains my favourite artist and I'm still regularly surprised by a turn of one of his phrases or a melody buried deep in one of the many astounding songs he released. I remember the day I first heard 'Either/Or' and couldn't help but think that I was the only person in the world to ever listen to the record. You'd listen to these songs and feel like you'd just shared a secret and a beer with the man. To this day, I'm still a little taken aback when I read an article about him or overhear someone discussing him. I always want to say "You're in on this thing too? I thought it was just me."

Since his death I've also come to understand why I felt so strange on that rainy day in October. I think it had something to do with knowing that someone like Elliott was out there, making the music he was making, on this same planet I was inhabiting. It was comforting, in a strange way. There was always the promise that he'd announce a tour and I could go see him or that he'd release some details of a new record that I could get stupidly excited about. When he died, he took this promise and this comfort with him. Whilst I'm eternally grateful for the body of work he has left behind, it's also difficult, from a purely selfish viewpoint, not to rue what could've been and what he could've done.

Elliott seemed to be a conflicted character that didn't get along with himself too well sometimes. I know that's a extremely basic way to put it but so much is written about his life, his death and everything in between that's it's almost easier to look at it that way. Whilst his life may have acted as the catalyst (be that for good or for bad) behind his art, I prefer not too look into it in too much detail. It's simply not my place to. Clearly, Elliott went to some dark places in his thirty four years. To me, however, it's now more important to stress that the man had an amazing gift for writing songs that speak to your very core. Songs that sometimes sounded more like whispered reassurances that everything's going to be okay than a guy with some instruments and a ludicrous amount of talent.

I'm trying to keep this short and not too gushing so I'll sign out here and just say, keep Elliott Smith in your thoughts for a minute or two this week. In fact, I'll help you with that one. Watch the video below, there's a couple of minutes or so right there that'll lodge him in the forefront of your mind.

Elliott Smith - 'Alameda'

1 comment:

  1. Elliott Smith is certainly one of my favourite artist too. In the spirit of things i'm gonna listen the whole way through Either/Or. Good blog mate...