We all have that one musician that got us through our darkest moments; the only one whose words were comforting and made us feel less alone when we needed it most. For me, that person would be Elliott Smith, as I’m sure he was for many others out there, and it makes sense that I’m struggling to find the right words to write this little piece in his memory. It’s been 7 years since he left and it never becomes easier to accept the fact that he is gone. I broke down when I came back from school 7 years ago and found out that my favourite musician was gone. How could a young and confused teenager like myself deal with the fact that the one person who seemed to truly understand was not going to be around any longer? I felt heartbroken and helpless, like many other fans, for a long time. It took me an entire year to listen to From a Basement on the Hill after it came out because I was not ready to accept that my favourite musician, my hero, was gone, and that that was the last album that he would ever put out. Finally listening to the album a year after the fact was not any easier, but I couldn’t help feeling content about the fact that his last work was such a masterpiece. It made, and it still does make, me wonder and yearn to know about how much better it could have been had he had the chance to finish working on it.
Many people can’t listen to his music because it brings them down, but I feel entirely different. I feel broken up over the fact that he is gone, but I can’t think of anything better to listen to when I feel lost. He was not a perfect human being by any means, but his words were more comforting than anything I have ever heard and probably will ever hear. Listening to Figure 8 for the first time in months back in August made me realize that he described the way I felt at the time better than I ever could have. It was crucial for me to hear the things he sang about, and even though it made me cry, it also made me feel hopeful; it made me feel less alone to know that someone else out there had felt the exact same way at one point in time as I did at that very moment. And that is precisely why he will forever be my absolute favourite – his words, and his beautiful voice, are capable of having the same impact years after having listened to the same albums over and over. Though it’s not easy to accept that his suffering has helped many of us get through our own struggles, I don’t think he would have had it any other way. To touch and influence people the way that he has is nothing short of amazing, and it makes me happy to know that his music will never cease to do this.
I want to take back what I said above because he is not gone. He will never be gone. He will live forever through the outstanding music that he left us with and that is the most comforting thing that I can hold on to. I can’t help but think of my favourite song, “Between the Bars,” and how much I wish that he would have let his own words guide him; I wish he would have seen, just like we did, that he had so much more potential, and so much more to give. And I wish that we wouldn’t have let him “get carried away,” as he begged us not to in King’s Crossing. I wish, I wish, I wish so much, but the bottom line is that even though I’ll never get to know him now, I’m still gonna love him anyhow. And this is just a fond farewell to a friend who helped me get things right.
We love you and miss you, Elliott, and we will continue to celebrate you and your music until the end of time. You were truly one of a kind and we like you the best.
I have never been good at describing music, which is why I shy away from album reviews, so posting this is nerve-wrecking for me, especially given the fact that I’m extremely emotional over the entire thing. But even though someone else could have and probably already has written a much better piece on him, what I wrote is one of the most genuine letters I have ever written and I hope some of you can relate.
Please feel free to tell your own Elliott Smith stories and have a discussion about his music. Since I already pointed out what my favourite song is, I will leave you with this:
It hasn't been very long since I first started listening to Elliott Smith's music.
But I'm confident when I say that no other musician has touched me as deeply as he has.
Every single song of his is a work of art and a heart wrenching story.
From Roman Candle to Figure 8 every album means so much to me.
It's truly a shame that someone of such talent had to leave us so early, fortunately his music will alway be with us to remind us of his genius, and always will be, Elliott Smith is truly a timeless musician.
R.I.P. Elliott Smith
i didnt get in to him very much until i got to college. ive been on a massive kick of his the last 3-4 months again though. such a fantastic musician. he is one of the faces of music to me. RIP, good sir.
It's really nice to read stories from people who truly love Elliott, ever though it's under such sad circumstances. I was able to find Elliott's music at a very bleak time and it was pivotal in keeping me sane. I think all of us might say that. There's a lot of things I couldn't say, a lot of brutal honesty that I could commit to. Elliott did that and I'll always admire it.
I'm really glad to see the site take the time for this.
Excellent write up Eda! You pretty much summed up my thoughts on Elliott Smith perfectly, I couldn't have said it better. Either/Or will always be my favorite album by him, it helped me through so many rough times. I wish he was still around, I wonder what his albums would sound like now.