Faking it Through the Day

James Poulos offers a nice tribute to Elliott Smith:

But if some percentage of the hipsters who survived Elliott Smith were themselves amateur blurs, Smith was the town professional, a wastrel who earned his stripes and a hero to the healing and the decaying alike. Over the course of a blotchy career that peaked on that Oscar stage but never escaped the darkness, Smith released a series of increasingly baroque, intricate, and depressing acoustic-based records that catalogued everything truly defunct about life as a skinny, greasy person entangled in, but always disappointed by, drug-and-sex-based relationships.

When he was criticized, he was derided as not just a downer but a whiner. But Smith — who worked out his musical amateurism in the earlier outfit Heatmiser — was one of indie’s most potent tunecrafters, a smith indeed. His natural ear for melody (occasionally, it bored him) produced some of the sweetest pop gems ever to emerge from a warren of stale apartments, dirty clothes, and cat hair.

Smith joins a rarefied group of singer-songwriters – Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake are the only others that come to mind – who, despite having interchangeable real names and stage names (and yes, I know that Elliott wasn’t his real first name), don’t suck. On the other side of the fence, we have Jason Mraz, Sean Lennon, Matthew Sweet (with the notable exception of “Girlfriend”), John Mayer, Josh Ritter, Ben Harper, Ben Kweller, etc. etc.

Here are my favorite Elliott Smith songs in no particular order:

  1. Miss Misery
  2. King’s Crossing
  3. St. Ides Heaven
  4. Say Yes
  5. Sweet Adeline


UPDATE: While trolling YouTube’s music video selection, I found this awesome Indonesian tribute to “Emma’s House” by the Field Mice. If you listened to Elliott Smith, I think it’s safe to say you’ll enjoy this:


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Filed under Culture, Music

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