Monday, May 26, 2008
Elliott Smith - Elliott Smith (1995)
Elliott Smith is most famous for his songs that appeared on the Good Will Hunting soundtrack in 1996. One of these songs-- "Miss Misery"-- was nominated for Best Original Song in the Oscars. Smith battled with depression, alcoholism and drug addiction throughout most of his adult life probably as a result of a troubled childhood and family life. Smith ultimately committed suicide, almost 5 years ago now, at the age of 34. Some speculate that his girlfriend could have killed him, but nothing was proven and most seem to accept that it was suicide.
Upon re-reading a brief biography about him, it's interesting and sad to note the pattern in his life. It seems his mental health had deteriorated quite a bit in his late twenties and early thirties. At the height of his fame, he began forgetting the words and chords of his own songs and was reported to have put on several 'excruciatingly bad' performances. But near the end, he supposedly began turning it all around, quit most of the drugs and began having some success writing new music again. Mysteriously, it was just during this period that he chose to kill himself during a fight with his girlfriend.
Elliott Smith's music is a sort of sleepy apartment rock. The lyrics and melodies are calm, sad and beautiful. His style varies a bit from album to album, in my opinion growing increasingly produced, ballady and honed with each album (until perhaps the last one, which is a bit more chaotic). My favorite of his stuff is at the beginning of his career, when his songs were all voice and guitar. And this is my favorite album by him: Self-titled "Elliott Smith"