Elliott Smith: 1969-2003

By John Bohannan

Critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Elliot Smith, 34, was found dead in his Los Angeles apartment by his live-in girlfriend on October 22, from an apparently self-inflicted stab wound in the chest. He was rushed to a hospital and confirmed dead an hour later.

Smith found success with five studio albums and a 1998 Academy Award nomination for "Miss Misery" from the soundtrack of Gus Van Sant's Good Will Hunting. Just before he died, he was recording his sixth album, From a Basement on the Hill, for DreamWorks.

Smith's songs were often compared with artist Nick Drake's dark and dismal vocals. He wrote lyrically about the emotional disorders and problems he had during his life, including drug addiction, alcohol abuse, loneliness and heartbreak, although he refused to accept the role of confessional songwriter.

"It's not like a diary and they're not intended to be any sort of super-intimate confessional singer-songwriterish thing," he said.

The multi-talented Smith played all the instruments on his albums, plus handling the production duties as well. A makeshift memorial appeared at a wall that celebrated the cover art for his Figure 8 CD.

Elliot Smith's lyrics went straight to my heart through every word he sang. He hit home with me for the first time when I heard the song "Say Yes" after a friend recommended it to me. Ever since then he has been one of the most influential artists on my life and will continue to be into the future. - JB.


Amanda Ellen