XO, Elliott

Today is the 10th anniversary of one of indie music’s most heartbreaking tragedies: the death of Elliott Smith.

While it has never been confirmed whether his death was by his own hand or that of his then-girlfriend, October 21, 2003 was the day that the music world lost one of its most beautiful luminaries. Elliott Smith is a personal hero of this blogger, even though I was only ten years old the day it happened, and hadn’t even heard of him. Doesn’t matter. The man’s catalog of music, vast and without a single weak song, has shaped the way I hear and write music, and the way I think about being alive, in a stronger way than nearly any other musician, or artist, ever.


It’s hard to objectively describe what makes Elliott Smith’s music so amazing, or to pinpoint exactly why he has attracted such a cult of music-lovers, but you can hear the spark in an instant of his music: unpredictable but perfect melodies, meditative chord progressions, and lyrics so honest, articulate and beautiful that they could easily stand up to those of any revered lyricist; in indie rock, in all of music, in all of poetry. His five albums, from 1994’s claustrophobic, lo-fi Roman Candle to 2000’s maximalist indie pop epic Figure 8, are opuses, emotional journeys, with consistently amazing songwriting top-to-bottom. Various collections of unreleased material/b-sides only serve to prove that every song the man wrote was perfect.


While AU’s Music Library doesn’t contain his whole discography, we do have the good fortune to have, in CD form, 1998’s XO. On this album he made his first big step out of the lo-fi sound of his previous albums, embracing more major chords than ever and gracing his songs with the occasional piano, organ, strings, and a fuller overall sound. This move to big production, however, didn’t get in the way of Elliott’s gorgeous songs or his destructive lyrics. In fact, second maybe only to 1996’s Either/Or, it’s considered his best by many. Come listen to it in the library with us- keep us company and fall in love with him just like I and so many others have.

R.I.P. and love, Elliott, and thanks for your music, forever.

In case you missed the item link the first time: http://catalog.wrlc.org/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?v1=1&ti=1,1&Search_Arg=%22elliott%20smith%22&SL=None&Search_Code=CMD&CNT=25&PID=ntCE7uAsJyQA0GxKbXWLW2JQw&SEQ=20131021182426&SID=2

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