I am sure a lot of Elliott Smith die-hards wouldn’t consider me a fan, but I will get over it. I have never fit in with any of the “scenes” I have been involved with anyway. On the eve of going to see Iron and Wine at the Grog Shop (Cleveland), I learned of Elliott Smith’s death and it really came up and smacked me in the face.
I didn’t get into Elliott Smith until I heard his songs in Good Will Hunting. Miss Misery is the type of song that reminds me why I listen to music. It is emotional, cathartic, delicate and passionate simultaneously. I am not sure if I would have ever discovered Elliott Smith without that movie, but I will venture probably not. After that movie, I listened to two of his older solo albums and bought XO when it came out in 1998 and fell in love with it. My favorite songs on that album are Sweet Adeline and the two different “Waltz” tracks.
So, last night I am sitting at my desk when I read the awful news that he is dead and maybe he even killed himself. I immediately thought to the Iron and Wine show that I am going to go to this evening and it struck me. Elliott Smith is a much bigger part of my music collection than I knew. Sure I only have XO, the Good Will Hunting soundtrack and a mix cd with some other song on it, but there is NO WAY I would be a fan of Iron and Wine without having listened to Elliott Smith in the first place.
Iron and Wine is very similar to the Elliott Smith solo work. Meaningful, fragile words on top of acoustic guitars and an artistic sense of subtlety that just can’t be matched. That connection makes a lot of sense, but as I really started thinking about it, I was introduced to Elliott Smith by my college friend David who had been following him even before the movie. I was introducing David to the finer parts of metal and hardcore and he was introducing me to the more creative forms of indie and emo. Elliott Smith was the first one that I really liked.
Elliott Smith was the first artist to get me off of the whole metal thing. From there I was listening to Mineral, which then turned into The Gloria Record, and Death Cab for Cutie wasn’t far behind after my friend Joe played a single song for me. This entire transition from my days in highschool listening to metal and generally angry music to the 3-year changeover in college as I started to recognize an entirely different side to music in college all started with Elliott Smith. All the way to me going out to the show tonight.
I guess it’s possible that it just happened to be Elliott Smith and it easily could have been some other band or artist, but you know what? On days like today it’s nice to think of how nicely things can sometimes fit together. When they do, don’t fight it. Maybe Elliott was having trouble seeing how things fit together. That is sad. I am sad to lose Elliott Smith, and if he did kill himself it makes me even sadder because it will make his already fragile music almost too breakable to listen to.