Monday saw the tenth anniversary of the death of the songwriter Elliott Smith. A remarkable, fragile talent, like so many others of his profession. So many great melodies, bittersweet lyrics, and equally at home in the lo-fi of his early recordings as the lush major label albums he followed them with.
If I had to pick one of his songs that stands out above all others, I would have to pick Stupidity Tries from Figure 8. I don’t know that it’s ever really been my favourite Elliott Smith song, and it doesn’t contain my favourite lyric, but it is without a doubt the one that gives me the most severe earworm: something about the way it circles and rises, rises and circles, just keeps it replaying over and over in my head, and there seems to be little if anything at all that can be done to prevent it.
Here’s Smith performing it on Letterman:
As for the playlist: three tracks from each of Elliott Smith’s 7 albums - the five released during his lifetime and two posthumous collections. Ask any two Elliott Smith fans to compile a playlist and you’re certain to get two different answers; these songs are just ones that have made an impression on me, from Roman Candle, via Between The Bars (my first Elliott Smith song) to Miss Misery, the Oscar-winning song that somehow never was.