Sunday, November 7, 2010

You may write the perfect song

Elliott Smith was a founding member of Heatmiser, a great Portland band from the early to mid 90s. Elliott's began his solo career in 1994, then the band broke up in 1996. He was nominated for an Academy Award for best song - Miss Misery - from the Gus Van Sant film Good Will Hunting. He moved to Los Angeles and there were rumored bad vibes left behind, possibly due to his self destructive behaviors and drug abuse.

Sam Coomes, the bass player in Heatmiser, went on as the frontman for Quasi. Several Quasi songs have links to Elliott. He played bass on several tunes on Quasi's Field Studies (1999). Lyrics to several Quasi songs certainly seem to be aimed at him, including Little Lord Fontleroy from Sword of God.

Perhaps the most poignant and biting is The Poisoned Well. It is unclear whether the lyrics are self reflective or aimed at another. But given the circumstances of Mr. Smith's death, there is certainly a haunting truth to several lines.


Holly A Hughes said...

I'm so sad that I never knew anything about Elliot Smith until after he died. I can't even tell you how various songs of his drifted on my iTunes, but it's more than a few. Nice to see him recognized.

Mister Pleasant said...

I followed a similar course with Elliott's music. I purchased Figure 8 when it came out, loved it, but never ventured into his back catalog until his unfortunate demise.

Being someone of a local icon here in Portland, his music is heard frequently throughout the espresso shops and restaurants. A young musician I know refers to Elliott as "the Beatles of my generation".