Tiny Time Machine
October 21, 2013 6:43 PM   Subscribe

In the December 2004 issue of SPIN, we published Los Angeles journalist/musician Liam Gowing's detailed, empathetic look at the last years of Elliott Smith's life and the circumstances that led up to the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter's apparent suicide. "Mr. Misery" was difficult to read, a tremendous challenge to edit and fact-check, and one of the most remarkably intimate pieces in the magazine's history. On the 10th anniversary of Smith's death, it's now available for the first time on the site.

Prefer to remember him through his music than the tragic ending? Archive.org has 97 live concerts available for download.
posted by mannequito (13 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I saw a post about this on Reddit earlier and then I was like, "Jesus, 10 years? It's been 10 years?" and then I was sad, and then I started listening to my Elliott Smith on shuffle on Spotify and I got more sad, and then I was just kind of sitting at my desk, weeping quietly, listening to Needle in the Hay and having myself a little moment.

You were awesome, Elliott.
posted by kbanas at 6:48 PM on October 21, 2013

In fact, I even came over to Metafilter and wondered if there was a thread about his death at the time, and of course there was.
posted by kbanas at 6:49 PM on October 21, 2013

5 minutes after posting I came across this Pitchfork oral history:

For those who knew him personally, the task of speaking for Elliott Smith wavers between privilege and burden. Many of the 18 people who spoke to me—bandmates, producers, managers, friends—emerged hesitantly, stepping gingerly over their own profound misgivings, issuing grave caveats. They’d been burned before, they warned me. They swore they’d never speak again. The story of their self-imposed silence, and their individual choices to break it or hold it, runs in powerful counterpoint to Smith’s own story. Some of the singer's closest associates have simply declined to go on record: Having been prodded multiple times, they have understandably snapped shut. Some are speaking now for the first time. The combination of profound ambivalence and fierce conviction in their voices, as they opened themselves up, was chastening.
posted by mannequito at 6:59 PM on October 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

The Willamette Week had a great piece on the contrast of Elliott in Portland and after: The Last of the Sad Bastards
posted by asterisk at 7:10 PM on October 21, 2013

I'm sorry, Elliott, and thank you.
posted by dephlogisticated at 7:56 PM on October 21, 2013

If the suicide of a child is the ultimate indictment of parental failure, it is also the ultimate punishment.

No and no.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:56 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Geez. I just remembered that Metafilter is how I found out about Elliott's death that night.
posted by litlnemo at 9:07 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I found out about it from Metafilter, then I drove by the Figure 8 wall and then drove around in circles for a very long time.
posted by betweenthebars at 9:45 PM on October 21, 2013

Elliot Smith at the Oscars.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:50 AM on October 22, 2013

Smith's suicide hit me like a ton of bricks. It was the first time I kind of "knew" a celebrity. He was a friend of a friend, and I must have bumped into him a couple of times at shows and afterparties in the late 90's whenever he'd find himself in my little town. I remember how shocked we were to see him on the Oscars, holding Madonna's hand. That someone from our scruffy group could hold Madonna's hand on TV and not be shuffled away by security was the repeated joke among the group. But he really was a hilarious and smart guy. It didn't matter who else was in the room, he was always at the center in the spotlight, and everyone loved the guy and he always seemed to love just being around people.

I suppose I can talk because I didn't really know him, and I certainly didn't know him later in life when his demons really started tearing at him. So I can tell my little anecdotes and smile sadly, but I imagine that actually knowing that whole human being would be akin to knowing a train wreck, just too much to process and no easy way to put it all into neat little packages.

If you're looking at those concerts and wondering where to start, this concert is one that is always on my iPod, and you can hear his personality shine thru, like when he asks the audience to do the whistle solo in Jealous Guy or when he admits he's never sure when to do encores. He genuinely seems happy to have people show up and hear him sing, and that's the guy I remember.

posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:43 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hence the world "wasted".
posted by Twang at 10:20 AM on October 22, 2013

I still can't read all this stuff; even 10 years later I'm just gutted by his death.
posted by chococat at 9:39 PM on October 22, 2013

I saw Elliot Smith perform at Jabberjaw in Los Angeles, probably in about 1996 or 1997 - before he was famous. There were about 20 people in the club. He commented on how he could hear someone playing Dig Dug.
posted by univac at 10:23 AM on October 23, 2013

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