Just stumbled across a reminder that this is the anniversary of Elliott Smith’s suicide, and it got me to feeling a little bitter-sweet nostalgia. Strangely, my wife and I were just discussing our own personal history with Smith’s music a couple of nights ago, so the memories were already fresh in my mind when I started thinking about it again today.
Elisabeth was the one who originally introduced me to the music of Elliott Smith, back when we were first dating one another. I was instantly hooked by the beautifully melancholy of his songs. I became somewhat obsessed with Smith’s music, even scouring Kazaa (hey, it was a different time) in search of live recordings of his shows. I can’t even guess how many times I listened to the Either/Or album during that time, but that disk definitely got a workout. It was a song from the Figure 8 album, however, that I listened to over and over during a time when Beth and I had broken up for about a year. I pretty much had Everything Reminds Me of Her on constant repeat during the first week after we had broken up.
Elliott Smith’s music still moves me, and I will never forget the feeling of sadness that washed over me when I heard that he had died. In many ways, his music had spelled out the depression that ultimately lead him to take his own life, but it also gave beautiful expression to the melancholy that we all feel at times. For me personally, his music shows the power of art to awaken a variety of feelings. It awakens conflicting emotions, from the happiness that arises from the associations it has with the early days of my relationship with my wife, to the sadness that comes from the understanding of the unhappiness that Smith was dealing with in his own life. But, above all, I appreciate the beauty and am thankful for the talent that burned so brightly for far too short a time.