my elliott story
I discovered Elliott Smith.
Or at least that's how it felt on the summer day when an early promo tape showed up at the office of the indie weekly I was editing. It was to be his first album on Kill Rock Stars, and the promo had just three songs by him and three songs by the Softies. Elliott was Side B.
My friend Moon was sitting in the office reading pornographic comic books (long story) when I slipped in the tape. The first song, "Needle in the Hay," started with the pick-strum-pick. At that inimitable first breathy whisper, we were hooked.
That summer was easily the lowest point in my life. I didn't want to do anything that first year after graduating from college. So I didn't. I was pawning everything to pay for beer, and living in a crawl space above the paper's photolab. Moon had lost his job because he could never make it to work on time (noon). We were drunk every night, sleeping with each other's girlfriends, and landing in the hospital on more occasions than I care to tell you about. That summer, Elliott Smith was our little secret, and maybe the only thing that kept us hoping.
Six months later, our surprise find was everyone else's surprise find, as Elliott got famous and eventually landed on Spielberg's label. (Wow, remember how weird that was?) When we finally got to see Elliott perform, we hung out with him a bit after the show. Elliott was in a very good mood that night -- chipper, sober, talkative. Moon, however, was so wasted that Elliott said, "I think your friend has an alcohol problem." How do you know you've hit rock bottom? When Elliott Smith informs you of your substance abuse problem.
I'm not sure if it was directly related, but right around that time is when I decided life wasn't the game I was playing. So let's try a different game, eh? Elliott, thank you, and good bye.