R.I.P. Elliott Smith

I first heard about it from MetaFilter: Elliott Smith, “folk-punk” singer-songwriter was found dead of an apparent suicide yesterday.

What I’ll remember most about Mr. Smith was his appearance at the 1998 Oscars. His song from the Good Will Hunting soundtrack, Miss Misery, received a surprise nomination for Best Original Song. In what has been called of of the “notably surreal musical moments in recent memory”, he performed Miss Misery live, using only his voice and acoustic guitar as if he were performing in a coffeehouse to a few dozen listeners, only to be followed by Celine Dion’s saccharine warbling of her trite necrophiliac anthem, My Heart Will Go On, complete with full orchestral backing, a giant backdrop featuring the Titanic and an extremely jewelled neckpiece. In Hollywood, fakery always trumps The Genuine Article.

(The beautifully curvy Kate Winslet was supposed to wear the neckpiece, but she was deemed “too fat”, and the closer-to-stick-figure-ideal Ms. Dion was assigned to wear it instead. Yet another reason that Hollywood must be destroyed.)

Smith’s bittersweet tunes were a staple on many alt-rock Intenet radio stations, including my friends ‘ station, Global Pop Conspiracy. It was always enjoyable to hear Needle in the Hay. has an elegy for Mr. Smith, which includes this obituary:

Steven Paul (Elliott) Smith. August 6, 1969 – October 21, 2003. Elliott Smith was born on August 6, 1969 in Omaha, Nebraska. Elliott spent his childhood near Dallas, Texas where he began his musical training at the age of nine, winning a local award for original composition at the age of ten.

Elliott relocated to Portland, Oregon as a Sophomore at Lincoln High School where he achieved the rank of National Merit Scholar. During his time at Lincoln High School, Elliott joined the band “Stranger Than Fiction” in which he composed music and performed until his graduation in 1987.

Elliott later attended Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he majored in Philosophy and Political Science. During his time at Hampshire, Elliott, known then as Elliott Stillwater-Rotter, co-founded the band “A Murder of Crows”. He later became a member of well known band “Heatmiser”. It was during this time that Elliott began to release music as a solo artist.

During his lifetime, Elliott released five full-length albums as a solo artist as well as a number of singles. Elliott was nominated for an Academy Award for “Miss Misery”, his musical contribution to the Academy Award winning movie, “Good Will Hunting”.

At the time of his death, Elliott was recording his sixth album, “From A Basement On The Hill”.

Elliott is survived by a host of family, friends and fans.

3 replies on “R.I.P. Elliott Smith”

Well now I’ve seen two artists on their last appearance in Toronto: Kurt Cobain at the Gardens on the In Utero tour and Elliott Smith at the Phoenix on the Figure Eight tour.

It seems like this fall has been the season of death in more ways than one: Johnny Cash, John Ritter, Gordon Jump and now Elliott Smith. Hopefully we can go a LONG while before anyone else who matters passes on. *knocks on wood*

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