Since I have been looking into the investigation surrounding Elliott Smith’s death, I have probably heard too many times the same tune, I have heard ‘we will never know, focus on the music instead’ way too many times I can stomach another person saying this to me, and honestly, I have grown quite tired of this attitude.
If you don’t care to know how your favorite singer songwriter died, that’s totally fine with me, but why do you want to give me a lesson every time I am trying to make a point addressed to people who may be interested? Why every time I post something related to my findings, I get someone repeating ad nausea ‘let’s focus on the music, he is gone and ‘most fans of his music appreciate -the music- and don’t get so caught up in the supposed conspiratorial elements of his death’? So what are you doing in my thread, in my Facebook group if you don’t care? Why aren’t you focusing on the music instead? Why does it bother you if I am wasting my time? I always wonder why people feel the need to give me a condescending lesson on how I should conduct my life. This is my life and I do what I want….
Take baseball, I don’t care at all for any sports, and if I see a post about baseball, I simply pass, I am not going to post a comment! When I don’t care about a thread or a subject I stumble upon, I don’t comment, that’s as simple as that… But if people, who pretend not caring about the way Elliott died, feel the need to comment every single time I post something about his death, it is because they are lying. In fact, they deeply care about the subject, and I bother them A LOT. It deeply bothers them that I am looking into the subject for some bizarre reason and I can only speculate why.
May be it bothers them I could discover something they don’t want to know, may be they are too attached to this image of suicide, because after all it is a very romantic idea, you know Romeo and Juliet and other mad fantasies like these, may be it fits so well their idea of Elliott Smith. May be they have read suicide in each line of his songs and they can’t give up this idea, they love it, they are in love with the idea of suicide, it’s so perfect, he killed himself for our sins and other insanities…
May be conscientiously or unconscientiously they feel guilty because they are not looking, they are not trying to know more and have accepted too easily what the world told them to accept. They see me as a restless fan who is doing much more than they ever do and they can’t accept that… It sounds crazy but I have no idea why there is such animosity when I or someone else comes up with the subject, it’s like an absurd dialogue which happens every time,… we will never know, this will not bring him back… yeah they sound like a broken record and this one is constantly rehashed in my face, as if I was in some sort of delusion I could resuscitate Elliott Smith from the dead? Obviously, that has never been even close to my mind, so why are people saying this? It’s not the motivation behind the desire to solve a mystery,… you or I just want to know the truth, is that too much to ask? Apparently, for the large majority of fans, it is. They are resigned, have accepted some kind of limbo state and they bite you if you dare to stir up their well-organized view of the world.
So what if it is a lost cause? What if I am losing my time? How could this affect other people’s life? Why do some of these people become angry, aggressive? They just have to ignore my posts instead of attacking me, why do they feel the need to use their condescending tone and I-know-better-than-you grand airs? Of course they want to give you lessons, and everyone becomes an expert based on ‘official biographies and such, when you have spent many years doing your own research, talked to many people … no matter what you are still the obsessed and stubborn lunatic.
But there are two categories among these people, the ones that have figured out everything when the authorities have not, the ones that fight you to defend their indefensible thesis that all the lyrics he has ever written pointed to suicide. He had a plan, a prophecy and he fulfilled it to the fullest. What. a. disturbing. view…
And you have the ones stuck with their eternal ‘it does not matter now that he is gone, you will NEVER know’, they always insist on the never, which thrones like a huge word in the sentence, bigger than the Himalaya. These people speak as if they were the voice of authority and they annoy the hell out of me. First I hate authority and people with certitudes, how do they know about this NEVER thing? How could they know? I have never pretended to know anything for sure, and they act as if they were the Cerberus of some forbidden gate: ‘you are not allowed to enter there, never!’ May be some of these people have opinions and they are too scared to take a chance, too afraid to share anything because they are stuck with a politically nonsense ‘innocent until proven guilty’, as if they were ignoring decades of justice failure and lost cases dealing with obviously guilty people who were never found guilty by the system… it doesn’t mean you can’t use your brain and have an informed opinion which should at least reflects the nebulosity of the situation. The ‘we will never know’ attitude strikes me as the apotheosis of a politically correct person who refuses to take any risk because afraid to fail? ‘Playing it safe is the most popular way to fail,’ said Elliott Smith… well for sure, a lot of fans are playing it very very safe.
What if these people are right, what if we never learn what happened? Is it a good reason for me to stop what I am doing? Hell, no! And this is not because I am stubborn and obsessed…it is because the pursuit of the truth is never done in vain. ‘Telling accurate stories is crucial’, said remarkable neurobiologist Oliver Sacks in one of his last interviews, and it certainly applies in any situation. If I can’t ever prove anything, I just want to install doubt in people’s brain, to move them from their ‘it sure was suicide’ ignorance or ‘we will never know’ apathetic fog to a more doubtful, this-doesn’t-add-up state of mind… Is it too much to ask? I don’t think so. The way certain people think Elliott died 12 years ago deeply affects how they perceive his work and music… how many times did you hear, ‘of course he killed himself, have you look at his lyrics?’ or ‘His final album was basically an extended ode to suicide.’… And this deeply saddens me. ‘It’s breathtaking what professionals (as well as the public in general) will do to the facts in order to produce the illusion of clarity. They define us as obfuscating when we see reality as offering little clarity and lots of questions, when they are the real obfuscators,’ told me someone close to Elliott when talking about this precise subject. And if what I am doing only serve to prove them wrong, it is worth it.
Originally published on Rock NYC (October 22 2015)