October 23, 2003

Editors' Note

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Who would have thought that after all of those drugs and all the booze, Elliott Smith would be done in by a self-inflicted stab wound to the chest? But sadly, it’s true. Smith, who was found on Tuesday lying dead in his apartment in the Echo park section of L.A., was a short-lived legend in his own time who won’t soon be forgotten.

It’s a sad day for American music. Though Smith’s national fame came only after the film Good Will Hunting, his indie roots go farther back to amazing lo-fi albums like either/or and Roman Candle, both of which boast terrifically depressing lyrics and simplistic but affecting melodies. His tunes also worked their way into American cinema gracing the soundtracks of films like American Beauty and The Royal Tennenbaums.

He was an artist’s artist whose penchant for cigarettes and tattoos belied his soft voice. This one’s for you, Elliott Smith:

“What I used to be/ Will pass away/ And then you’ll see/ That all I want now/ Is happiness/ For you and me”

— Elliott Smith, “Happiness”

Archived article by Erica Stein