I first became aware of Elliott Smith when he played the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in 1998. Supporting up-and-coming cardigan wearers Belle & Sebastian he was almost inaudible, invisible. I really had no idea at the time that this spectral figure was quietly and unassumingly picking, strumming and humming songs of such fragile beauty. Then, he was just a guy people had said was “yeah, you know, pretty cool”, but without being able to hear properly it was hard to agree or disagree.
Later, one winter, I would hear and fall in love with Between The Bars. I bought Either/Or and fell deeper. I devoured everything I could get my hands and ears on. I cursed when Miss Misery was denied an Oscar. I made a point of telling everyone how wronged Smith had been.
In October 2003 I returned from holiday, went to a gig (Snow Patrol, before Run gave them ubiquity), and was stunned to hear the support band introduce their next song as a tribute to Smith. Conversations with those around me confirmed what I didn’t already know. A nice touch, but not a smart move for a support band; I didn’t want to listen to them any more, just Elliott Smith.
Elliott Smith: August 6, 1969 – October 21, 2003