Cover Versions, Gone but not forgotten, Hard-to-find

50 Million Elliott Smith Fans Can’t Be Wrong

Well. Not quite 50 million. More like 50. I liked the Elvis-style photo below, hence the title. But in an ideal world more people would know about the music of Elliott Smith. He’s been dead for 3 and a half years, so if this post helps you get into him, great, but don’t expect him to be visiting your local open mic night anytime soon. Just make sure you get over to the Domino Records website for his earlier and later releases and Amazon or Play for his mid-period major label stuff. If you’re new to Elliott Smith I’d go for ‘XO’. That’s the album I discovered him through.

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He is a truly great artist. A songwriter’s songwriter for sure. I bet Elton John loves him (though that’s no indication of what Elliott’s records sound like). His singing and guitar playing is absolutely fantastic. He plays all the weird chords, all the fanciest picking arrangements and if you’ve ever tried to learn any of his songs you’ll know how quickly they tie your fingers in knots. I’ve looked at all his press shots. I’ve yet to determine if he has 6 fingers on each hand, but it sure sounds like it. His vocals always sound brilliant. Like his hero John Lennon, they tend to be double-tracked. But whereas Lennon was a shouter (‘Help!’, ‘Revolution’ etc etc, take your pick), Elliot is more introverted. His ‘whispered, spider-web thin delivery’ (as one early reviewer referred to it) is understated melancholoy at its best. Elliott’s frequent battles with depression, drug addiction and alcoholism means that the subject matter can sometimes be dark, but the overall sound is just brilliant. In 1996, his song ‘Miss Misery’ was nominated for an Oscar, and Elliott performed it at the Academy Awards ceremony (it seems to have disappeared from YouTube). Unfortunately or otherwise, 1996 was the year of ‘Titanic‘ and Elliot was pipped at the post by Celine Dion.

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When he died he was working on the the songs that would form ‘From A Basement On The Hill’. It was released after his death to no fanfares, fireworks or frenzied reviews. But those of us in the know lapped it up. Last year, ‘New Moon’, an album of demos and outtakes recorded around the time of his 3rd album (‘Either Or’) was released. You can hear one of the tracks here. Below, you’ll find a selection of demos, outtakes and b-sides from throughout his career. This is as good an introduction to Elliott Smith as you need. Happy downloading!

Say Yes (studio version)

Bottle Up & Explode (‘Either Or’-era demo, released on ‘XO’)

Punch & Judy (‘Either Or’-era demo)

Alameda (‘Either Or’-era demo)

Miss Misery (piano version)

Bled White (Jackpot Studios demo. Original version on ‘XO’)

Happiness (acoustic version. Original version on ‘Figure 8’)

Son Of Sam (acoustic version. Original version on ‘Figure 8’)

Figure 8 (title track, dropped from album)

Concrete Jungle (Bob Marley cover)

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This is an excellent site where some of my recordings came from.

9 thoughts on “50 Million Elliott Smith Fans Can’t Be Wrong”

  1. there isnt much point in saying ‘he’s much better live’ and people get bored.
    their loss

    great subject though i’d like to think that he has nearer 50 million than 50.

    here’s to hoping
    ally

  2. i have only just started listening to him after hearing that he was friends with mark evveret, eels’ frontman. so far i have really enjoyed his music. i find that people who are suffer from depression or similar conditions always write the most beautiful songs, take jeff buckley for example…

  3. I hate this. I only discovered him 4 days ago and today I discovered hes dead? … this sux I fell in love with his music the second I put the C.D. in the player and now I feel crushed. GRRRR!

  4. good post, i liked it.

    elliot smith is one of my heroes.
    amazing lyrics, amazing guitarist and a haunting voice.

    truly, a great loss that he’s dead now.

  5. i know, elliot deserves much more recognition.
    he truly was talented. i wish i could’ve seen him play live, or at least have him release some new stuff. but i find even though he doesnt release anything new i can listen to the same tracks over and over.

  6. Im sure there are plenty of people who like or love his music. My boyfriend introduced me to his music 4 years ago and i fell in love with his music. It sucks so bad that he is dead though, my sister and brother also like his music and my brothers friends, if more people listen to his music and knew who he was then there would be 50 million or more fans. his music is great and beautiful. Some people don’t like depressing music though, it depends on your taste.

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