It is noon on Wednesday and I have the hard task of writing this. As a writer of a music column I always try to give you guys the best reviews possible of the best albums out there. And while I do that I try to entertain you. This week I can not do that.My heart is saddened to announce the passing of Steven Paul (Elliott) Smith. Smith, who was better known as Elliott Smith, passed away last Tuesday. Elliott was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1969. He spent his childhood in Dallas, Texas before moving to Portland, Oregon as a sophomore in High School.
Elliott later attended Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and soon after formed the influential band Heatmiser.
Sadly, most of America only knows Elliott from his song “Miss Misery” from the Good Will Hunting soundtrack, which was nominated for an Academy Award, but his musical contribution is so much more than that one song.
His amazing album XO is an album full of amazingly beautiful and sad melodies. Elliott was able to create melodies and harmonies that put the Beatles (his major influence) to shame. While making these melodies he remained alone, he performed almost all of the music, he arranged the stings and horns, and he sang at times four to five vocal parts per song.
Through out Elliott’s career he had been plagued by depression. In “Waltz #2 (XO)” he sings, “I’m okay, it’s all right, nothing’s wrong.” But listening to the song you know something is wrong inside the amazing mind of the singer.
“Needle in the Hay” is another one of Elliott’s best-known songs. It was featured in The Royal Tenenbaums, during the suicide scene. Now, at the time that I write this article I do not know the official cause of death. Most sources are saying suicide, which sadly sounds like a possibility.
At the time of his death Elliott had been trying to release his sixth solo album, From a Basement on a Hill. Problems arose from the album and recent live shows. His major label didn’t want to release an album of lo-fi recordings. He injured his hand and could not fulfill a few live dates.
These problems could not have helped Elliott’s state of being. He always seemed too innocent and scared to ever want to face problems.
I will miss Elliott Smith greatly. His music touched and inspired me, and I thank him for that.
Steven Paul (Elliott) Smith. August 6, 1969 – October 21, 2003.