Friday, October 21, 2011

A Sad Anniversary

Elliott Smith died on this day, October 21, 2003.

If you aren't familiar, Elliott Smith was a brilliant singer, musician, and songwriter. He released several albums in the 1990s and early 2000s. His songs typically feature catchy, melodic tunes that contrast with often dark and troubled lyrics.

Smith's musical career began in Portland, OR, where he was a member of the punk band Heatmiser before beginning a solo career with the 1994 album Roman Candle. first came to public attention when he wrote and performed the song "Miss Misery" that was featured in the 1997 film Good Will Hunting. His follow-up album in 1998, X/O, was probably his most critically acclaimed.

Smith was troubled throughout his career by depression and addiction to alcohol and drugs. At the time of his death, however, he had reportedly been clean for several months and was working on his last album, From a Basement On the Hill, which was released posthumously.

Elliott Smith died after receiving two stab wounds to the chest while he was at home with his girlfriend. The wounds were apparently self-inflicted, although there has never been an official ruling on the death.

I did not discover Elliott Smith until a few years after his death. I've never been sure what draws me so intensely to his songs. It may be that because I, like Smith, have at times experienced intense depression, the lyrics speak to me in some cryptically personal way, even though my life experiences have been much different from his--many of the songs, for example, deal with alcoholism and drug addiction, which I have not had a problem with. I just know that when I listen to this music, I feeling like I'm listening to a friend whose feelings, if not experiences, I can relate to and sympathize with personally. I can say without hesitation that Elliott Smith has helped me deal with some difficult times. I just wish he was still here to make more of his brilliant, intensely personal, music.

RIP Elliott

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