Pic by Tara Canova, Tramps, NYC, 10/3/98

Today would have been Elliott Smith’s 40th birthday, so it’s a sad day, but it’s also a good time to remark on such a remarkable man and musician. He was an inspiration to many, a lifeline for many more and even though in the end he himself couldn’t keep it together, he ironically helped many others keep it together, myself included.

His music was so forlorn, yet at times it was hopeful. His lyrics always kinda told you, “Hey, yeah, it’s bad but it could be worse and it can get better.” Elliott Smith is for people that are in touch with their deepest selves, people that can handle being emotional and addressing their personal problems. I call it music for survival. Sure, his songs are entertaining too- but that’s not really the point.

I first started listening to Elliott during my first year at Hampshire College, which coincidentally is where he went to college as well. It was through friends that I learned to love this man with a deep soul, a pretty voice and an ear for the goddamn loveliest melodies. I was “high on amphetamines” (St. Ides Heaven) when I sang along with my hands clenched and my neck straining to get it all out, all the feelings, all the love… when I sang with my friends.

“I’m in love with the world, through the eyes of a girl, who’s still around the morning after.” (Say Yes)

I fell in love and learned about life and romance and friendship under the watchful eye of Elliott Smith. He taught me how it should be, how it could be, to be happy. To be sad and know it. To be confused or angry and yet to face it head on.

I can’t say enough. Here are some videos, and the most chilling of Smith songs, “Last Call” from his first album, Roman Candle. Sean Drowned in Sound has some downloads too. But, and I never say this, you should buy every album in full. There are no mediocre Elliott Smith songs.

Some Song

Elliott Smith: Last Call