Elliott Smith: Lyrical Genius Even in 2012

Elliott Smith, for years has captivated me.  I seem to pick up a new album (or rather old album now) of  his every time I stumble through my apartment.  While moving some of my roommate’s shit I have found 3 Elliott Smith cd’s.  Luckily.  The curious packaging of his self-titled album and From a Basement on the Hill  had me instantly, as I am a stickler for cool marketing ideas and cd package art.  I popped the self-title in and I was taken to a place of despair and amazingly descriptive imagery, words cannot describe, literally, what his words described to my imagination.  So vivid, so brilliantly conveyed, and easily received.  As I was taken aback by his self-title album I began to play From a Basement on the Hill, to my surprise I fell in love with this album as well.  Elliott’s words speak volumes.  What his lyrics do for imagery Dali does for surrealist paintings.

I thought about his lyrics and how I could relate to the words so well.  He is not much different from the MC or the wordsmiths we see in hip-hop affiliated brainiacs; he does wonders in storytelling with emotional description.  He takes it to a new level.  I knew someone who mentioned this as a joke:  “If Elliott Smith’s knife was as dull as his music, he would still be alive today.”  At first I laughed, and took it as a joke; however, looking back now I feel this person was completely wrong, a false statement like this is deplorable.  Elliott Smith’s music is of no relation to the mundane.

Elliott Smith was a musical genius in many respects, on most of his albums he played numerous instruments, if not all, and he was influenced by the Beatles in a semi-pop poetic depressive way.  Elliot’s music is not dull as much as it is ingenious; his words, metaphors, and simile after simile, combined with beautiful and balanced thought process, delivered in the most human and self-loathing way is incredible.  I can put on any album of his and be taken into a place a little darker, a little sadder, and a little more graphic than the one I am in.  I can be taken to a real world situation as a poet takes you to a beautiful and amazing setting, or to the side of a love, or to the loneliest place where all love is lost.

Figure 8 is easily one of my favorite Elliott Smith Records.  I have been steadily listening to it for the last three months, after warming up to its pop-rock style harmony, and gritty guitar and piano melodies, I can reflect on how diverse his sound truly is.  For its release date, and setting, this album is above comparison to its contemporaries.

If you want to listen to a lyricist, musician, and unique individual with relatable ideas I suggest you listen to some Elliot Smith.  It isn’t just an Uptown thing, as much as this porn-star I know once said, he’s a music fan’s thing.  Take some time to get away from delusions of grandeur and listen to the real thing.

For anyone into melody and beautiful word choice, with an emphasis on empathy for the listener, I suggest Figure 8 , or From a Basement on the .  For anyone in search of lyrics, in relation to melancholy and criticism of ignorance, check the self-titled.  Recently, in 2010, a posthumous compilation album was released:  An Introduction to… Elliott Smith.  This one is maybe for Elliott Smith first-timers, it has some essentials and it’s relatively close to being (what I would consider) a greatest hits collection.  Not only would you be doing yourself a favor by picking any of these albums up, but you would be doing yourself justice by hooking up in vinyl.

It is said that there are hundreds more of his unreleased song recordings…

It is truly sad that such a musical talent left us so early, yet it seems realistic, and possibly predictable judging from readings of how he lived his life.  Even 9 years after his death, his words and idea still hit very close to home today.  Love lost can be described no better in verse.  Genres aside Elliot Smith was one in a billion, with and for words.


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