Elliott Smith was born in Omaha, Nebraska. He started writing songs at the age of 14. He performed around the city and eventually became a mainstay in the music scene there as a member of Heatmiser, his first band.
Here's a rundown on his records and the labels he's been with since (and this is incomplete):
His first solo record was Roman Candle, released on Cavity Search a year after the LP Dead Air. He signed to the Kill Rock Stars label after this, in about 1995. He released his self-titled album, also in 1995. Two years later, in 1997, he released Either/Or. This contained Between the Bars and Say Yes, which appeared on the Good Will Hunting Soundtrack, in which he was also nominated for an oscar for the films title song, Miss Misery. He left Kill Rock Stars and signed to Dreamworks. He released XO, which is in all its glory more plugged in than his previously released albums. More recently he's released Figure 8, which follows in the footsteps of XO, and is as brilliant as all his other music.

"Drink up baby,
Stay up all night,
With the things you could do,
You won't, but you might

The potential you'll be,
That you'll never see,
The promises you'll only make..."

from Between The Bars, Elliott Smith

Elliott Smith, Savior of my youth, killed himself today.
There aren't really the right words to express what I feel.
In my darkest moments, when I felt utterly hopeless and alone, I listened to his music and thought, hey, I'm not alone.
And I wonder why. Why would you kill yourself Elliott? You helped me. I understood what you were going through. And you're gone now. And you will be missed, believe me. Yet you gave up, and as hard as I may wish you didn't, you did.
Well, because of you, my beautiful friend, I'm still here. It sounds so trite and dramatic, I know, but it's true. I listened to your songs. I believed in you. You voiced your pain for God-knows-who to find. And I found it. And I had pain of my own that I bottled inside until I got the guts to let it go. Because of you.
And so here I am, you touched me and you never even knew. And if you did I'm not sure it would have mattered anyway. Sometimes people are just too broken for repair.
Thank you for sharing. May you find the rest you never found here on this Hell called Earth.

If Paul Westerberg didn't suck right now (and I do love Paul, don't get me wrong), he'd be Elliott Smith.* If John Lennon wasn't dead, he'd be Elliott Smith. Elliott Smith is quite simply the most under-appreciated songwriter of his generation, and you should be ashamed for not knowing who he is. Plus, it was wonderfully strange to see him compete with Celine Dion for the Oscar for best song back in 1998 (was it that long ago?). I still say he was robbed, but who's surprised?

Your handy-dandy Elliott Smith discography:




  • A Slice of Lemon: "big decision"
  • Drinking from Puddles: "everybody cares, everybody understands"
  • YoYo A Go Go: "Rose Parade"

    *While I still hold that Elliott Smith's music is comparable to Paul Westerberg, my opinion of Westerberg's music has radically changed since the release of Stereo/Mono--probably my favorite record of the year; only the White Stripes' White Blood Cells comes close.

  • He has recently put out a new album, Figure 8, which is quite good. He was nominated for an Academy Award for the song Miss Misery on the soundtrack of Good Will Hunting. His music has also been featured in the movies American Beauty and High Fidelity.

    Elliott Smith's website is http://www.elliottsmith.net/

    Also the title of his second album released July 21, 1995.


    1. needle in the hay
    2. christian brothers
    3. clementine
    4. southern belle
    5. single file
    6. coming up roses
    7. satellite
    8. alphabet town
    9. st. ides heaven
    10. good to go
    11. the white lady loves you more
    12. the biggest lie
    It was his first album after he switched labels to Kill Rock Stars.

    Elliott Smith died October 21st, 2003, of an apparent suicide.

    Elliott's body was discovered by his live-in girlfriend, who took him to a hospital, sadly, too late. He died of an apparently self-inflicted knife wound. His reasons for suicide may never be known; some suspect his recent bouts with alcoholism may have helped push him over the edge. (Elliott recently came out of rehab in a Beverly Hills Neurotransmitter Restoration Center.) At age 34, his death invokes disturbing parallels to that of Nick Drake. Regardless, his hauntingly beautiful music promises to endure beyind his demise.

    The obituary used by his website immediately after his death reads as follows:

    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.

    I wish I had the energy to write some sort of eloquent tribute, something to feel that I've done my small (mostly worthless) part to express the way in which this bothers me and the gift the world has lost. I don't. Elliott lives on.

    Fake concerns is what's the matter, man
    and you think I ought to shake your motherfucking hand
    well I know how much you care;
    don't be cross, it's sick what I want
    I've seen the boss blink on and off
    Come here by me, I want you here
    Nightmares become me, it's so fucking clear

    Oh Elliott. My dear one. My love.

    Nearly four months have passed since your death, and they still don't know what happened to you. The LA coroner's report was "inconclusive". You didn't have any drugs in your system, apart from "normal" amounts of meds for depression and ADD. A little Ritalin, a little Zoloft. You were fine... clean and sober for months, according to your friends. Recovering. Better than ever.

    So how did you end up with two penetrating stab wounds to the chest?

    I'm sorry Elliott, but I don't buy your girlfriend's story. Sad boys usually don't stab themselves. They don't stab themselves deeply in the chest, twice, manage to slice both their palms cleanly in the process, and then quietly bleed to death. Boys dealing with severe depression usually spend days or weeks holed up alone, not seeing anyone. If they are suicidal, they plan their deaths with meticulous attention to detail. They generally leave a suicide note, being mindful of the feelings of others. They usually give a signal to everyone just before the end, so that maybe their bodies can be found quickly. I know the M.O. - and your case just doesn't fit.

    Fucking hell! Your "suicide note" was written on a Post-It note? It read: "I'm so sorry — love, Elliott. God forgive me." You supposedly wrote this after a heated argument with your girlfriend, concluding with her locking herself in the bathroom. An argument in which your girlfriend emerges from the bathroom to supposedly find you self-impaled with a kitchen knife, which she then proceeds to remove from your chest herself? How did your palms get cut, Elliott? Would you stab yourself in despair, and then try to save yourself by pulling the knife out by the blade instead of the handle? Were you really that stupid and careless? Did you try to stop your girlfriend from pulling the knife out? Were you even conscious at that point? Does this ever happen in real life?

    No, it doesn't. People who commit suicide do not have multiple defensive wounds on their bodies, post mortem. They do not have girlfriends who pull the lethal weapon from the body and then refuse to answer police questions for a period of time after reporting the incident. These things do not happen to suicide victims, Steven. Steven Paul Smith, of "Heatmiser" fame. Academy Award nominee. Born in Omaha and drug across Texas as a kid; you managed to escape to Portland for a while. Spent your professional years in Los Angeles. Hung out at Largo, with the other members of LA's misfit music scene. Had some drug problems, but who hasn't? Struggling to get your shit together, and recording a new album that was almost in the can. Clean and sober for months, for the first time in a long time. Finally starting to turn the next corner in your life. You could see it, man. It was right in front of you.

    Elliott, what happened on October 21, 2003? If they tell me that you killed yourself, I will laugh in their fucking faces. You knew so much pain, so much grief, and expressed it time and again in song, with a talent that has made many a grown man weep - myself included. I refuse to believe it, Elliott. I know from suicide. You know from suicide. You did not commit fucking suicide. You got in an argument with your "girlfriend", Jennifer Chiba, and that bitch stabbed you. You tried to stop her, and got your palms sliced up nicely in the process. Maybe she waved the weapon around beforehand, cutting you under your right arm prior to the fatal blows. She stabbed you right in the heart, Elliott. Then she scribbled some words on a Post-It note and called 911 as you lay beneath her bleeding to death.

    And so all the kiddies dressed in black are lighting candles to commemorate your "suicide", Elliott. The authorities are standing around smoking cigarettes and jerking off, while your "girlfriend" continues to make statements to MTV and the media about how she and your family "know the truth" about your death.

    I still love you, E. And I don't believe a word of it.

    And oh my
    Nothing else could have been done
    She made her life a lie so
    She might
    Never have to know anyone
    Made her life the lie, you know

    What I used to be will pass away
    And then you'll see
    That all I want now is happiness
    For you and me

    Sketchy sources:
    "christian brothers". ©1995 Kill Rock Stars
    "happiness". ©2000 DreamWorks/SKG

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