The Q Elliott Smith Story: Tired To Hear Of, Once Again, Nearly Nothing New

Another article about Elliott Smith, another supposedly in-depth article that rehashes the same old tired things one more time. What were they wanting to accomplish with this one?… I’m still wondering.

In this new article, published by Q magazine, his ex-girlfriend Joanna Bolme, his half sister Ashley Welch, Sam Coomes (Heatmiser/Quasi), engineer Larry Crane, producer Rob Schnapf, Christopher Cooper (Cavity Research Records) were interviewed but what do they say we haven’t heard before? Hardly anything.Both recently published articles, The NME one and the Q magazine one, mention heavily his death in the headlines, ’The haunted life and mysterious death of Elliott Smith, Finally the truth about rock’s unsung genius’ says NME, ‘The Lost Boy. This is the story of the life and death of Elliott Smith by the people who knew him best’ says Q magazine. But do they bring anything new to solve the mystery of his death? Close to nothing.First, I am tired to read once again about that infamous episode when Elliott jumped off a cliff, as if it was their only way to prove he did try to commit suicide before.

I would like people to really go back to the interview narrating the whole episode, because the way it happened, it can hardly pass for a suicidal attempt:

‘I don’t like when people talk about all the bad things that have happened to them as if that makes them unique. Because I don’t think I’ve had a harder time than other people. But, um, yeah — I, uh, jumped off a cliff. But it didn’t work. It was in North Carolina or somewhere. It wasn’t like I made up my mind to throw myself off a cliff. I got freaked out and started running, it was totally dark, and I ran off the edge of a cliff. I saw it coming up, and it wasn’t like, `I’m gonna throw myself off this cliff and die.’ It was just, `Ground’s coming up. Who cares, whatever.’ I landed on a little tree, punctured my, you know, body. It just made a really ugly wound.’

I have to add he had drunk heavily that same day, (unlike the day he died), then he was not the only one running to the cliff, as Tim Foljhan, a musician, did it too.

Then there is the career summary through a few snippets of his life, and what else?

The only thing I find interesting comes from Joanna Bolme basically using the same word than Autumn de Wilde in NME: ‘There’s a lot of creepy, sycophantic, groupie, fame seeking people in LA, who just knew him as the famous guy’.

Sycophants, sycophantic people, here is a theme journalists should dig a little more.

Then there is this anecdote told by Joanna about Elliott attending her show the year he died, then wanting to show her his new recording studio, and Jennifer Chiba throwing a fit and making him leave (her own words).

I heard it was not the first time it happened, with another ex-girlfriend, as an ‘old friend’ posted this other story on a website discussing the subject:

‘I knew Elliott pretty well, and met the girl in question only once. When I met her, she made up a false story concerning an old girlfriend of his, who happened to be at one of his Brooklyn shows a few months before he died. I attended the show with the old girlfriend, and afterward Miss Chiba refused to allow her backstage, accusing her of violently hitting her for no reason. This blatantly false story spurned an insane scene, and I felt terrible for Elliott for being caught in the middle of such nonsense.’

If anything else, it really shows a lack of confidence in their relationship, and the shades of an unreasonable and violent behavior.

May be the worst of all is this declaration from his half-sister:
‘I don’t like thinking about what happened that day – it was the worst day of my life. I wish for his parents that they had a bit more clarity about what exactly happened. But as far as me wanting to get to the bottom of it, that’s not the case. He’s gone and nothing is gonna bring him back. And I don’t think anybody wanted him to go. So whatever happened, I don’t think it was something planned. I think it was an accident.’

So this not wanting to get to the bottom of it, may explain why we still don’t know after 7 years. The family has had this passive attitude since the beginning, something I cannot understand.
And last thing, an accident? How do you stab yourself accidentally, twice, in the heart?

Originally published on Rock NYC (December 6 2010)

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