Zoilus by Carl Wilson

Archive for October, 2003

Elliott Smith: “Here it is, the revenge to the tune…”

October 28th, 2003

Such a strange sad way to go ó to stab himself through the heart ó that it sounds like a line from one of Elliott Smith’s own grimmest songs. Smith was one of the most gifted pure songwriters of his generation; his melodies and harmonies to my ears outdid nearly anyone else’s attempt to follow in the Beatles/Beach Boys compositional line: Even a tunesmith like Joe Pernice sounds flat by comparison, and Smith never resorted to pastiche and parody the way, say, Stephin Merritt does (however brilliantly).

Yes, I loved Smith’s portraits of despair ó the subject that, despite myself, most moves me as a listener, the subject that no doubt explains why I am addicted to song. His lyrics gave a slow spin to the coin, turning its face from gentle empathy to the pitilessly frank, the two inseparable sides glinting past each other like estranged comrades at arms.

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