Angeles - Elliott Smith (@Gibson’s, Tempe, AZ, 1996)
Elliott was opening up for Sebadoh here. around the time when Either/Or was being recorded, back when a handful of people knew about Elliott, but not a whole lot. Within a year, Good Will Hunting would be out.
(Recognize the hat and outfit? Yep, the cover photo for Either/Or was taken backstage on this very night.)
This is the best thing you’ll see today because this is singer/songwriter Mary Lou Lord and her 14 year old daughter, Annabelle, singing two Elliott Smith songs and a Big Star song that Elliott always covered (“Thirteen”) last Saturday at the Bowery Ballroom as part of the Elliott tribute concerts that his sister, Ashley, organized this year to mark the ten year anniversary of his passing.
Mary Lou hasn’t performed in awhile, by her own admission, and was feeling phobic, so her daughter (“the biggest Elliott Smith fan”) got to sing lead on the first song, St. Ides Heaven. Mary Lou/Mom joins in on harmonies a little way through. The pair then tackle “I Figured You Out”, the song that Elliott wrote, threw away because “it sounds too much like the fucking Eagles”, and was eventually talked into giving to Mary Lou to record on her own record.
It’s heartbreaking to watch people play Elliott’s songs and realize he’s been gone for TEN YEARS, but it’s heartwarming to read about how wonderful the concerts felt, to see so many people gathered together to remember him and keep his music life, and to have all the money raised go to charities or causes that meant something to Elliott.
I’ve been trying to gather up enough internal fortitude to write a gigantic essay on Elliott in honor of the upcoming 10th anniversary (again: HOW IS IT BEEN TEN YEARS ALREADY?), but I’m not entirely sure I can wade in those waters all over again. The sadness of late October 2003 will likely never, ever go away for me.
Elliott Smith would have turned 44 on August 6, and in honor of the occasion, the Friends and Family of Elliott Smith are throwing four concerts around the country that will raise money for charitable organizations. Taking place in Portland, Los Angeles, Austin, and New York City, the intimate shows will include tributes by director Gus Van Sant, producer Jon Brion, members of Grandaddy, Chris Thile (Punch Brothers, Nickel Creek), Rhett Miller, and Mary Lou Lord, among others.
Dubbed “No Name #1: A Celebration of the Life and Music of Elliott Smith”, the concert series will include the contributions of over 100 musicians in total. The first takes place at Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge on August 4 and will benefit Outside In, an organization devoted to assisting homeless youth. Van Sant will host and the Grandaddy dudes will be in the house. L.A. goes down on August 6 at Largo hosted by Jon Brion with proceeds going to Free Arts for Abused Children.
On August 9, “No Name #1” hits Austin’s Scottish Rite Theater with local radio legend Jody Denberg, plus appearances from the Grandaddy crew, Lil’ Cap’n Travis, and Davíd Garza. The Sims Foundation, which provides mental health services to musicians, will benefit. And on August 10, New York’s Bowery Ballroom will be commandeered by Miller, with Thile and Lord scheduled to perform, raising money for New Alternatives for LBGT Homeless Youth.
They’ll Never Take Her Love Away from Me (George Jones cover) - Elliott Smith
So much sadness in this little song and video. Elliott is clearly sad while playing it (he mentions having just broken up with his girlfriend “two days ago”) and it’s a sad old country song in general. But now both these men, Elliott and George, are no longer with us, Elliott having left us nearly ten years ago now (!) and George passing away this morning.
I don’t really believe in heaven, but if there is one, hopefully they’re up there this morning having a quiet little jam session together somewhere off in a little corner of the room.
Elliott once mentioned that, in his verison of heaven, “George Jones would be singing all the time. It would be like New York in reverse: people would be nice to each other for no reason at all, and it would smell good.”
Earlier today, director Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, etc) uploaded to YouTube a copy of the original and never-aired pilot he directed for a Jon Brion variety show type thing for VH1 back in 2000. The nearly 45 minute pilot features, among other things, several performances from Elliott Smith - including absolutely gorgeous renditions of The Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset” and John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy”. Honestly? Crying a little bit over here.
He was at his best, or at least right up near it, at this show. A year or so before Good Will Hunting made him a bit more known, before the Oscars, before Dreamworks, before everything else, there was this: a guy, his guitar, and a handful of some of the finest songs ever written.
In honor of the still unbearably sad anniversary of his passing, nine years ago this week, take a long listen and realize all that was lost when he left the world on October 21, 2003.
Clementine Roman Candle Some Song No Confidence Man Big Decision Condor Ave Division Day Angeles Antonio Carlos Jobim (talking, re: Xena the Warrior Princess) Between the Bars See You Later Thirteen