No one did melancholy as exquisitely as he did.
A few years later, I would produce a Smith memorial package for Vh1, and I relished pouring over all of the archival live performances and painfully shy interview clips. I watched them obsessively, again and again. Though he at times alternated crooning about being strung out or lovelorn, it was all beautiful.
The man may have been tortured, but he was also brilliant.
If the extent of your familiarity with Elliott Smith is that he’s the guy who did that song from “Good Will Hunting,” then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Download his albums now, thank me later. But whether referring to his early material, or his posthumously released work, it all resonates. Ben Folds said it best in his song “Late,” written as a tribute to his friend Elliott: “The songs you wrote got me through a lot, just want to tell you that. But it’s too late…”