The RIF must really like Elliott Smith. He is outperforming the percentages considerably. The law of averages would predict about half as many Smith posts as we’ve gotten.
The Random iTunes Fairy chose an Elliott Smith song exactly one week ago, and now she’s back with another.
Hearing those songs back-to-back gives a great glimpse at how much Smith’s sound evolved over the three years between his acoustic self-titled 1995 album and XO, the expansive album featuring today’s SOTD. His Figure 8, released in 2000, went even further down a path of baroque instrumentation and production.
In this case, the lyrics describe a visit to a methadone clinic, where you wait in a “single file” line to receive your treatment for heroin addiction.
XO was the album where Smith started broadening his musical palette from his lo-fi beginnings. Similarly, ‘Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands’ starts in a quiet, acoustic style before blowing up at its midpoint into a fully orchestrated coda.
I don’t know how that stacks up against other artists. I’ve long regretted that I never kept detailed stats of Random Weekends so I could do exactly the kind of analysis I’m wondering about now. But my gut tells me Smith is better represented than most.
My second favorite album of 2000 is the last record Elliott Smith released before his 2003 suicide. Figure 8 was Smith’s fifth album and possibly his best (though I have an even softer spot for 1997’s Either/Or).
Figure 8 was Smith’s second album with major label Dreamworks, and the baroque instrumentation on much of the record stands in stark contrast to his ultra lo-fi beginnings.
As soon as I decided to blog about ’31 Numbered Songs’ I knew #13 would be Big Star’s ‘Thirteen.’ It’s one of my favorite songs, named after a number or not. The only problem is I’ve already featured it.
But that problem turned into a blessing when I discovered this cover version by Elliott Smith. Who better to capture the melancholy ache of this adolescent anthem?