Singer Elliott Smith's and his live-in girlfriend, Jennifer Chiba, were arguing and she locked herself in the bathroom to take a shower. She heard a scream, opened the door, and saw Smith standing with a knife in his chest and a note written on a Post-it read, "I'm so sorry�love, Elliot. God forgive me." She pulled the knife out, but Smith later died in the hospital. The official autopsy report left open the possibility of homicide.
Elliott Smith always seemed like he could see for miles – perhaps he also predicted this. Seven years after his untimely death, the brilliant Portland singer/songwriter is being honored by his former label, Kill Rock Stars, with the November 2 release of An Introduction to… Elliott Smith, a collection of tracks from his seven solo albums.
As the title suggests, the album is not a greatest-hits package. Smith was a heralded figure in indie circuits and college radio, less in mass audiences, and his sapient, plaintive prose and finger-picked acoustic guitar is well represented in these 14 tracks. The seminal Either/Or (1997) is emphasized, perhaps for its excellent use of his raspy vocals and its easy melodicism, and the comparatively buoyant “Waltz #2,” XO’s ephemeral single, is tellingly positioned in the first moments. His moments of mainstream success are also logically included: “Needle in the Hay,” from his 1995 self-titled sophomore album, which was re-purposed into the score of The Royal Tenenbaums, and the devastating “Miss Misery,” his original, Academy-Award nominated contribution to the Good Will Hunting soundtrack (which he memorably performed at the ceremony in a regal white suit).
Smith died on October 21, 2003, at age 34. Since his passing, Kill Rock Stars has also released New Moon, a double-CD set of demos and unreleased recordings from the mid-90s. An Introduction is more than fitting now for this deeply missed poet.
Complete track list for An Introduction to… Elliott Smith
1. Ballad of Big Nothing - from Either/Or
2. Waltz #2 - from XO
3. Pictures of Me - from Either/Or
4. The Biggest Lie - from Elliott Smith
5. Alameda - from Either/Or
6. Between The Bars - from Either/Or
7. Needle In The Hay - from Elliott Smith
8. Last Call - from Roman Candle
9. Angeles - from Either/Or
10. Twilight - from From a Basement on the Hill
11.Pretty (Ugly Before) - from From a Basement on the Hill
12. Angel In the Snow - from New Moon
13. Miss Misery (early version) - from New Moon
14. Happiness (single version) - from Figure 8