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Steven Paul "Elliott Smith" is born August 6, 1969 at the Clarkson Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska

Song: "Untitled Guitar Finger Picking"

Recorded by Steven Pickering at his dad's house in Duncanville, TX in 1983

KEVIN MOYER: This is a previously unreleased song that Elliott recorded with friends when he was living in Texas during his childhood, he would have been about 14 years old. For this one, Elliott plugged his electric guitar straight into the four-track reel-to-reel tape recorder.

STEVE "PICKLE" PICKERING (Elliott's childhood friend, keyboardist): In the summer of 1983, Elliott shifted more and more of his attention to music. He organized several of his friends into a band playing cover tunes - Led Zeppelin, Rush, Pink Floyd. He also started writing original songs, all instrumentals. Some were written and arranged for an entire group, others for guitar and keyboards or just guitar. Most didn't have names. This particular song was part of the first batch of original material that he wrote. Several of them show the finger-picking style that played a big role on his early solo albums. We recorded five or six of those songs on my dad's four-track one night when Elliott stayed over at my house in November or December of 1983. Elliott let me add some keyboard noodling for a melody on some of the tracks, but this one sounded just fine on its own. While the song may sound a bit melancholy, we had a blast recording it. We got to stay up late, rock out, and record. Fun stuff! What I remember most about that night is Elliott's excitement at getting to record his songs and his determination to get through as many of them as possible.

KEVIN MOYER: Later on the same tape there is a recording of Elliott performing "Soul Cake", a traditional English folk song recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary which uses the same finger picking style. Speaking of Led Zeppelin, I love that perhaps Elliott's first live performance ever was with you all at a church function and you did "Stairway to Heaven" and "Tequila!".

STEVE "PICKLE" PICKERING: Yes, Elliott picked "Stairway" and I picked "Tequila". It wasn't until years later that I realized how funny it was for young kids to be playing those songs in church!

KEVIN MOYER: It should also be noted that this song name was not given to the song by Elliott, as a lot of those early, early songs did not have names - not even the "no name" system he adopted later on.

STEVE "PICKLE" PICKERING: We would just say stuff like "the one that starts in e-minor" or "the one that sounds like (hums intro to song)". This one was not one that we worked on a lot (no keyboard part!), so I'm afraid I don't have a better name for it.. And at this point, he didn't really like to sing, but would do it if he had to.

In late December 1983 at age 14, Elliott's family moves to Portland.

NICKOLAS ROSSI: This song. Jaws dropped when Larry Crane played this for us at Jackpot. I could not believe how complex of an arrangement this was for a kid to compose and record at 13 or 14 years old. It really blew me away, and it was the first time I think I got the glimpse of just how incredibly talented he was years before he started playing shows. The fact that it's like 5 minutes and long with endless changes and incredible proficiency at the piano.

KEVIN MOYER: This was recorded in Spring of 1985 in Portland during a time when Elliott was looking to get his own apartment, recorded partly in the basement of Garrick Duckler's parent's house. Garrick was a friend from high school who would write and record with Elliott under the moniker of "Stranger Than Fiction" and other names. We thought it might be from that, but Garrick says it isn't a Stranger Than Fiction song, so I think it is just a really young Elliott track.

NICKOLAS ROSSI: There was a part of me that thought, would he be really embarrassed if he knew that this song he made when he was 13 years old would become widely circulated? Would he like that? Would all these photos of him as a preteen or a child be embarrassing for him? But I think there is a line where you want to portray somebody in an honest light, and you need to make sure you are always respectful of their life and the stuff they have always put out. So, there is a concern, but we were clear that the music would drive this film. The personal stuff was the personal stuff, but the music was what it was about.

KEVIN MOYER: We used this track early in the film and then also at the end of the movie during the credits, which was great since it is so long and goes on forever kind of like our credits and thanks do. I originally opposed using the track at the end during the credits because I thought it might make more sense to send people out of the theater with a more traditional Elliott track in their heads - Nickolas wanted to use it there but I just wasn't sure. At the end of the day I think using this song to close the film was the right decision though. I think maybe the intention is also to send the audience away with that aural sense of young innocence and purity? Pointing back to how Elliott began and what he always was - someone's brother, someone's son, someone's childhood friend. That youthful passion for music and the idea of singing a song in your room, about your room, just for the sake of singing a song in your room, for no other reason other than to do it. And he's singing about what he sees in his room and out his window... and this is something that he would build his craft around as he evolved as an artist too... his songs were about what he was seeing. As Sean Croghan and Larry Crane and Elliott's sister Ashley all say in the film, most often Elliott's songs weren't even about himself, he was writing songs about the things he saw going on all around him, and here he is as an artist employing this same creative habit and natural extension of that same young kid writing about what he sees out his bedroom window. So, i think the decision to end the movie with that odd song, I think it plays into all of these things, all of those subtexts. Plus if you were hoping to hear a standard Elliott Smith song as the last thing you hear, as you exited the theater, well then this doesn't give that to you and maybe that makes people go out to their car and pop in their Roman Candle cassette. When we had our screening in Portland, I took a quick peek back at Joanna and Janelle and Rebecca Gates who were sitting near me and they were laughing and smiling and told me after that they loved the song used there, which helped cement that it was a good decision. Joanna actually singled that one out as one that shows a lot of what Elliott would do later, like the ambitious arrangements, and I agree that the song and all of its various parts really show where Elliott was headed. In fact, a few chords in it, I recognize as the same progression as a later song, though I can't put my finger on it right now, but it seems like it was lifted pretty much directly from that song and used again later. And the fans seem to love this one too.

NICKOLAS ROSSI: The rough cut of the film had a scene where Larry listens to this song uninterrupted for a few minutes and just laughs. The decision to use this song at the very end of the film during the credit roll was made to help remind everyone that it was, from the very beginning, really always about the music.

KEVIN MOYER: And during this song when it plays during the end credits, if you watch and listen to the very very end, even after it seems like the song is over, you hear this haunting part of Elliott singing "See you in a while my baby... see you under the willow tree." The first time I heard that I didn't know it was there and I was alone and it just made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. There are two versions of this song, both seem to be made around the same time period, and both use the "see you in a while my baby" part at the end, but this is the only version where it sounds whispered and haunting, and I think that last line is the perfect final words from Elliott as the theater is still dark and by now mostly empty.

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Graduated from Lincoln High School as a National Merit Scholar

A memorial plaque with the lyric "I'm never gonna know you now, but I'm gonna love you anyhow" from Elliott's "Waltz #2" is located inside his former high school.

Portland, Oregon

Graduated from Hampshire College in 1991 with a degree in philosophy and political science
Amherst, Massachusetts

Late 1990, Heatmiser forms in Amherst, MA

KEVIN MOYER: This is a Heatmiser song, and Elliott was the lead writer on this one but the band shared all writing credits for their first two albums. This was produced by the band along with Thee Slayer Hippy AKA Steve Hanford who music fans will know was the drummer for punk band Poison Idea.

TONY LASH (founding member of Heatmiser, drums): In the early days of the band, I was the one with the most studio experience and ended up in charge of the engineering and production as a result, although certainly everyone had production input. I did end up doing all of the engineering and mixing on Dead Air. Regarding Steve Hanford, I'd been working with him for a few years on various things - Poison Idea's "Feel the Darkness" was one of my earliest guitar-heavy engineering jobs - so I suggested bringing him in to help us make calls on performances (mostly on the basic tracks) and run the tape machine while we were all tracking as a band. This continued through the basics for Cop & Speeder. I think we all enjoyed his keen musical ear and sense of humor.

NICKOLAS ROSSI: We use this one right after Elliott laments about once being called "dirt" by a truck full of passing rednecks in North Hampton, MA. It only seemed appropriate to open up the Heatmiser story with a full on rock song by the same name. Lucky coincidence.

KEVIN MOYER: It's an ironic thing because they call him dirt when he is going to work at a bakery, dressed in his baker whites - head to toe clean and sparkling white clothing, so it was an odd thing to yell. It also reminds me of his hair that always seemed greasy, but that's just how his hair was. I think it was Larry or maybe Mary Lou Lord who was saying that he was out on tour in the hotel room and he showered and washed his hair, and as soon as it dried off it looked just like that again.

LARRY CRANE: During the recording of XO in L.A. I stayed with Elliott for a week at his hotel. He would wake up every morning, wash his hair and shower, we'd go get coffee at the Starbucks on Sunset Blvd, and then hit Sunset Sound and his hair would look oily by then. Mine had been like that when I was going through puberty, so I could imagine the frustration.

MARC SWANSON (friend of Elliott's, roommate, artist) : Yeah Elliott cared about how he looked and what he wore. He did care. He really cared. He wasn't into fashion, but he definitely liked specific things that he would wear. Vintage stuff sometimes that we would find, that he wore - but very specific stuff. He would find what he liked and just wear that and he wouldn't change clothes, especially when he was on tour. He had that shirt with the 88 on it that was a Stephen Sprouse, who styled Debbie Harry but I doubt that Elliott knew it was designer, that he loved and borrowed from me and he wore it to the point that it was literally falling apart. I had to steal it back from him, I had to basically get it myself and tell him I was taking it, and by that point it was unwearable.

KEVIN MOYER: That also reminds me of something that Autumn De Wilde said about the LA sweatshirt that he is wearing on the front of the Figure 8 album. I think it was designer and really expensive and she got it from a stylist for the shoot and he really loved it and kept it, and wore it often. And Gus Van Sant tells a story of Elliott meeting up with him in New York for Good Will Hunting promotion and Elliott wanting to look "more presentable", and so he wanted to change out of his jeans and into a pair of slacks, but didn't have time so he changed his pants in the subway and was reprimanded by a subway cop. And for me, I always think of him when I wear red shoes.

MARC SWANSON: He found things that he liked and would stick with it. That wristband that he wore forever, I got that for him at a sporting goods store called Kaplans. They had military stuff also, down on Market Street in San Francisco. It was this old fashioned thing from the 50's that was meant for support, for bowling or something. Kinda like a leather ace bandage, it looked a bit like bondage gear but thinner - I got a bunch of them, I had one too. I got those military glasses that you see him wear in some pictures too. But he wore that bracelet every day for so many years.


Photo Credit: Heaven Adores You

Performance at Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle, 2000

Janet Weiss's house in South East Portland off Hawthorne Blvd

Unknown Song (instrumental) was recorded in May 1994 at Janet Weiss's house in South East Portland off Hawthorne Blvd

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Elliott and Larry Crane open their recording studio Jackpot! in Portland early February 1997
2420 SE 50th Avenue, Portland 97206

Figure 8 Memorial outside Solutions Audio at 4334 Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles

Sonora Records
3222 Los Feliz Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90039

Elliott buys New Monkey Studios in the 1990s.
New Monkey Studio in Van Nuys, California

Santa Paula, California
"Plainclothes Man" music video directed by Ross Harris was shot entirely in Santa Paula, California

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Colonia, Oxnard
"Coming Up Roses" music video directed by Ross Harris was filmed in the Colonia District in Oxnard, California.

May 3, 1997
Elliott Smith
Stinkweeds, Phoenix, AZ, US

September 19, 2003
Redfest 2003
Pedro the Lion, Elliott Smith, and The Gunshy
Salt Lake City, UT, US

November 6, 2000
Elliott Smith
Ogden Theatre, Denver, CO, US

Steven Paul "Elliott Smith" is born August 6, 1969 at the Clarkson Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska

March 15, 2000 - March 19, 2000
SXSW 2000
Cypress Hill, Patti Smith, At the Drive-In, Meat Puppets, Ugly Casanova, and Elliott Smith Austin, TX, US

October 20, 2000
Elliott Smith
Howlin' Wolf, New Orleans, LA US

April 1, 1997
Elliott Smith
400 Bar, Minneapolis, MN, US

February 26, 2000
Elliott Smith
The Empty Bottle, Chicago, IL, US

April 8, 1997
Elliott Smith
Sudsy Malone's, Cincinnati, OH, US

April 5, 1998
Elliott Smith
The Point, Atlanta, GA, US

May 10, 2000
Elliott Smith
Ritz Theater, Raleigh, NC US


April 17, 1998
Elliott Smith
Black Cat, Washington, DC, US


Elliott performs "Waltz #2" on Saturday Night Live, October 17, 1998
New York

MAR 31, 1997

Elliott Smith at First Avenue, Fargo, ND, USA


APR 10, 1999

Elliott Smith at The Bottleneck, Lawrence, KS, USA


Apr 7, 1997

Elliott Smith at The Club Soda, Kalamazoo, MI, USA


NOV 2, 2000

Elliott Smith at Southgate House, Newport, KY, USA


MAR 19, 1999

Elliott Smith at Exit/In, Nashville, TN, USA


MAR 15, 1999

Elliott Smith at Sapphire Supper Club, Orlando, FL, USA


OCT 27, 2000

Elliott Smith at Recher Theatre, Towson, MD, USA