Elliott Smith

You guys knew this blog was coming.

If anyone has talked to me on the thinking thread more then three times there is a 95% chance I have mentioned Elliott Smith at least once. Many of you GSBians don’t know who he is or don’t care. If you don’t care please click on the arrow pointing left at the top of your screen right next to the url of this page. However if you are looking for good music and mature enough to not comment “OmgZ h3 K1kk3d h1ms3lf h3 1s em0!!111” you might want to read this.

Steven or “Elliott” Smith (he changed his name beacuase he though “steve sounded to much like a jock name”) was an American singer/songwriter. For the vast majority of his career he was not on major label, he did however release two cds on DreamWorks. Unlike many musicians Elliott did not want to be famous. He recorded music as a hobby but never intended to release it. Perhaps he used it to escape his difficult childhood (his stepfather was abusive.) He was in a band called Heatmiser in college but soon they split up. He only released because a friend convinced him too. Because of the “grunge” trend in the pacific northwest after releasing his first cd Roman Candle he felt a bit uncomfortable releasing his acoustic music he said “I thought my head would be chopped off immediately when it came out because at the time it was so opposite to the grunge thing that was popular.” His second and third album were released on Kill Rock Stars (famous for the “riot girl” movement in the early 90s.) his self titled and Either/Or were both mostly acoustic. He did start to experiment more with sounds with Either/Or. Both albums had dark themes such as drugs

Smith rose to mainstream success when his song Miss Misery was in the movie Good Will Hunting he was nominated for an oscar. He felt uncomfortable with the attention and only performed at the oscars after they said they would get someone else to perform his song for him if he didn’t play. Celine Dion’s song in Titanic “My Heart Will go on” won. Elliott was not disappointed for his lost, maybe even relieved. Soon he did the ultimate taboo in the indie world, he signed to a major label. Sadly around the same time his depression became worse, he became intoxicated and ran off a cliff, amazingly he survived. His first release on DreamWorks was XO, which used more instruments (particularly paino) then his previous cd it sold 400.000 copies. Figure 8 came out in 2000 and peaked 99 in the billboard 200. Unfortunately his problems grew along with his fame and he had became addicted to heroin by the end of his figure 8 tour.

Elliott became angry at DreamWorks, he felt they were controlling his music and invading in on his personal issues. He wrote a letter to the label telling them that if they didn’t release him from the contract he would kill himself. They agreed to let him release his next album From a Basement on the Hill on another label. As for his drug problem he eventually gave up all drugs, even caffeine and fake sugar. Sadly his depression ended up costing his life. He was found dead in October 2003 from two stab wounds. Some suspect that he could have been murdered because his girlfriend and him had just got into a fight. The autopsy report is apparently still open, but I’m pretty sure the cops gave up on it. Smiths album was released posthumously and was followed by new moon, a collection of unreleased songs. Elliott influenced many musicians, notably Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes.

So there is some info on this guy I keep talking about. Thanks for taking the time to read about my obnoxious musical obsession.
Posted on March 31st, 2008 at 03:43pm

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