A FOND FAREWELL: ELLIOTT SMITH, THE MAN THAT DID MELANCHOLY BEST.

Ten years ago today, I sat in the newsroom at MTV with my colleagues trying to process the enormous blow the indie rock world had just suffered with the mysterious and tragic death of Elliott Smith. Admittedly, I had only a cursory knowledge of Smith’s music upon his passing, but over the course of the past 10 years, I’ve come to know his strumming and his sorrow all too well.

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.

So today, on the 10 year anniversary of his death, it seems only fitting to salute another one of my musical heroes gone too soon. Granted, it has little to do with wooing women – other than that his catalogue is the perfect thing to throw on if you find yourself entertaining one late at night – but please indulge me this momentary pause for a man whose songwriting was powerful and fragile at the same time.

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…” iWINGMAN

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