Today, August 6, 2013, would have been Elliott Smith's 44th birthday. Sadly, 2013 also marks 10 years since his long-disputed death
. Telling you about the impact he's had on our musical tastes, as well as what we're hearing every day would be redundant. And if you're unfamiliar with his work, nobody can teach you better than the man himself, so get to work
While most writers (journalists, bloggers, whatever you want to call them) avoid tapping into personal anecdotes and stick to the facts, after spending my morning listening to Elliott Smith's catalogue, I can't brush the nostalgic urge to vent about the PTSD-like flashbacks I'm experiencing as I revisit old favorites. I discovered his music at the perfect age; it was early in high school, and everyone sucked. As cliched as it may sound, sitting on the fringe of puberty, in my own narcissistic state of mind, I thought Smith's Either/Or
stories were my own. Through the good times and bad, although mostly rough, Elliott Smith was my teenage security blanket. From break-ups to the passing of loved ones, there was always a single line, or even a crisp melody within one of his songs that would act as a the musical mortar that reinforced my crumbling psyche. I once reminded my girlfriend, "I know I'm happy to be with you. I haven't listened to my Elliott Smith records in a long time."
To celebrate Elliott's would-be 44th, I decided to assemble my own all-time greats list. I went in with a goal of selecting one song from each album, but that proved to be far too difficult. Since seeing him perform live will never be an option, I tried to find live videos of each song. Check them out below.
I know, I know, I probably didn't include your favorite song. If there's anything you'd like to add, post the video link in the comment section below.
"Last Call" Roman Candle (1994)
"St. Ide's Heaven" Elliott Smith (1995)
"Needle in the Hay" Elliott Smith (1995)
"Between the Bars" Either/Or (1997)
"2:45 AM" Either/Or (1997)
"Waltz #2 (XO)" XO (1998)
"Somebody That I Used To Know" Figure 8 (2000)
"A Fond Farewell" From a Basement on the Hill (2004)
"Georgia, Georgia" New Moon (2007)
"Riot Coming" New Moon (2007)
Throughout this entire week, a series of tribute performances entitled "No Name #1: A Celebration of the Life and Music of Elliott Smith" will occur in Portland, LA, Austin and New York City. Assembled by the Friends and Family of Elliott Smith, the proceeds of all four concerts will raise money for charitable organizations. The concerts will feature over 100 musicians and will include tributes from director Gus Van Sant, producer Jon Brion, Rhett Miller, and more. On August 10th Rhett Miller will host the NYC concert at Bowery Ballroom, which will raise money for New Alternatives for LGBT Homeless Youth. Buy tickets here