drink up baby, look at the stars, and i'll kiss you again, between the bars.
I was having a pretty emotional day already, and then I started to do this project for my journalism class called “Portrait of Grief.” The assignment called for a short 150-200 word piece on someone that you’ve lost. I have been fortunate enough in life not to have lost anybody close to me, so my professor suggested I write about “a celebrity.” Well, I wouldn’t really call Elliott Smith “a celebrity.” I also wouldn’t necessarily call him a personal loss, since I never knew him. But I thought, this is the only person I can write about.
When i first started listening to Elliott Smith, I was 14 years old. I remember this because the first indie band I ever got into was Rilo Kiley, when I was 13, and that pretty much started my musical awakening. The reason all my social media handles are called “butitjustis” is because I was really into this song by Rilo Kiley at the time, called “It Just Is.” It went like this:
Today is the day I realized that I could be loved. it echoed through the park last night;he wasn’t our son, he belonged to everyone. And this loss isn’t good enough for sorrow or inspiration. It’s such a loss for the good guys afraid of this life— that it just is. ‘Cause everybody dies.
At the time, I thought the “that it just is” part was “but it just is,” and it just seemed to me so simple and beautiful that I started using it everywhere. Then I realized my ears had deceived me, but the handle stuck. Of course I then discovered that the song was a tribute to Elliott Smith. That’s when I really got into his music.
Elliott Smith’s music has been such a big part of my life. I think a lot of people who just started getting into indie music now ( say, when they started going to college) probably haven’t had much exposure to him, which is a huge pity, because his music is life changing. I challenged all my middle/ high school emo energy into listening to his songs, and they always seemed to perfectly articulate all my convoluted emotions. Some might call him melodramatic. That does him a huge disservice. He was so real.
Ironically, now that everybody else around me is super music-savvy and cool, I’ve really fallen out of the loop. The only artists I listen to are still the old, dated indie bands: Rilo Kiley, Bright Eyes, Death Cab, Tilly&The Wall… my Itunes hasn’t really been updated in years. I guess I’m getting more and more un-hip as times go by. But I’m still proud I’ve been loyal to Elliott. I wouldn’t trade him for the world.
October 21, 2003. RIP.