Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands

Finding a use for Elliott Smith


As in every other art this town trades shares in, rock music has very visible casualties. We celebrate our walking wounded and early dead with scab-picking compulsion; from smarmy postmortem tributes to the megabuck dead all the way down to fanzine geeks burnishing the glory (and bearing the company) of some one-album genius of 40 years ago, the scene never forgets and never shuts up. Contexts change, scenery gets trucked to the warehouse, tastes shift perceptibly this way or that, but sentiment, like death, never changes.

Staring back at us from photos now as a charmingly raffish thug, Elliott Smith was a pop artist who wrote and recorded songs of surpassing delicacy and emotional range, which

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