Tag Archives: Either/Or

“See You Later”

Mic City Sons, 1996

This sounds dramatic and probably is, but I haven’t listened to Elliott Smith much since the day he died … and that was more than 11 years ago. I had previously been a serious fan, and to this day I’d still cite him as a formative influence (inasmuch as holds meaning for a non-professional musician), but the tragic, almost unbelievable nature of his death effectively ended my interest in revisiting his music. It became much harder to listen to his solo records (I still cite Either/Or as my fave) once it became clear that, yes, that was the real Elliott we’d been hearing in those songs: brilliant but addled, solipsistic, hopelessly addicted to love and other substances. It was one form of intrusion to merely hear this as a fan; quite another to realize that, emotionally at least, it had all been true. It became impossible for me to spend time with those old records without also feeling somehow complicit in one man’s disintegration. I am trying to express this with as little judgment as I can, and perhaps I am not succeeding, but the point is the man’s music simply meant too much to me for his life to not also carry equal weight. To lose one felt – for me anyway — like losing both. It was/is no longer my place to live in his world as a listener, but that shouldn’t stop you, or anyone really, from remembering his considerable gifts as a songwriter. In an ideal age, we’d all be able to hear a song like “See You Later” and it would feel like the first time every time, and the name of the artist would never be known, and we’d all be better for it. Because the music was truly special.

[audio https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14312140/11%20See%20You%20Later.m4a]


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