Thursday, March 23, 2006


I vivdly remember the moment I found out that Elliott Smith died. My normal routine was to sit down at my computer at work and check the news. My boss at the time was sitting at the computer next to me. I hopped onto Yahoo News and my eye immediately caught the headline. Elliott was dead of an apparent suicide. My throat let out an inadvertent yelp that caught the concern of the entire room. I couldn't help it, my favorite musician was dead.

Elliott brought me through some tough times. His melodic melancholy always had a healing effect on me. I owed him. His death saddened me greatly because I knew that I could never tell him how much he impacted me.

I recently purchased the Elliott Smith tribute album, and found it interesting. I have always wanted to sing his songs, indeed I find myself singing along to his music more than any others. So I wanted to know how others would treat his music.

The result is, admittedly, quite a mixed response. Some of the choices are downright strange, creating the wrong feeling. At one point while I was listening I openly cringed, my hand shooting for the skip track button.

The problem is that Elliott's songs are purposely slow to create a mood, and attempting a more up tempo feel loses the spirit of the song. I felt my hands tighten whenever I heard a synthesizer on the album. Elliott was definitely not a proponent of overly produced music.

There are some serious bright spots on the album. Amelia does a wonderful job with "Between the Bars" adding her own special chord changes and depth but retaining the resonance of the song. Blake's "Rose Parade" is almost identical to the first one, and in this case it's not such a bad thing.

Maybe my point is that we (and by we I mean the collective Elliott Smith community) miss Elliott's wistful, breathy voice and thoughtful lyrics. With the overabundance of crap being touted as music nowadays, his impact is that much more startling. Do yourself a favor and pick up his albums. They are worth the experience.

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