By Janea Wilson
When Elliott Smith died, Beyonce’s “Baby Boy” was the number one pop song. Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix was the best-selling book. And I was sitting in my room at my desktop Dell chatting on AIM with a long-distance friend, likely talking about Smith, without having known he’d passed away.
I’m not sure how much time had slipped by—probably not much. Twelve years ago, I was as active in a multitude of internet communities as I am now, and news traveled quickly even then when “viral” was something more clinical than digital. And I was devastated.
For more than half of my life his music has been integral to my being. I’ve got his XO heart tattooed on my forearm as a tribute to him. I often dream about some sort of music fest that is strictly A Tribute to Elliott Smith. Is it so strange that someone who struggled with so many maladies could have so much influence on me? Smith’s musical dexterity has impacted not only me but so many singer/songwriters, musicians, poets—call them what you want.
Just look at the Figure 8 Wall (where Autumn deWilde shot the album photo) and the efforts to keep it restored as a memorial to the late musician. Many visitors have penned his own words as an epitaph to the artist: “I’m never gonna know you now, but I’m gonna love you anyhow.”
One of the most charming things I find about his music is that the titles are seemingly apathetic or flippant, but the attention to detail, the complex arrangements, the highly-developed melodies of those songs are anything but:Oh Well, Okay. Whatever. Stupidity Tries. Everything Means Nothing to Me. No Name (#1, #2, #3…). The list could go on.
It’s difficult to express exactly what I want to say; risking melodrama is not what I aim with this would-be eulogy.
I guess I just want to pay respect to a man I’ve always considered a dear friend. I’ve got to say goodbye for now, but maybe it’s more like See You Later.