Tragedy of a rockstar

Michael Venutulo-Mantovani

“I just told the biggest lie”-Elliot Smith

The calls rolled out of my then brand-new cell phone. Some answered. Others didn’t. Some had information, although sketchy and unadvised. Some had “the whole story” while others had bits and blurbs. But when I put all the puzzle pieces together, they spelled out one thing; “Elliot Smith is dead.” I was devastated not only by the loss of an otherworldly musician, but destroyed by the fact that all the Elliot Smith we would ever hear is what had already been created. There will be no new Elliot Smith EPs. No new soundtracks or full-lengths. No more tours. No more shows. In short, no more Elliot. Why would such a promising young musician take his own life? Why couldn’t he just record one more record? Well I realized the answers were not what I was looking for. It was the music I needed. You may have forgotten him as that soft, gentle, almost inviting voice painting the backdrop behind Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s “Good Will Hunting.” You might have forgotten that he was the guy who was nominated for an Oscar for that soundtrack, but didn’t win.

You might have heard a blip or a beep about him on MTV News this October, but you might have forgotten about that. However, Elliot Smith meant so much to so many before his untimely death that through the eyes and ears of his devoted following he will never be forgotten. Elliot Smith was one of those very special artists who could be an Oscar nominee yet still never break into the mainstream.

He was, although amazingly talented, overlooked by the general public as a guitar player. However, no one who has ever heard Elliot Smith jingle and jangle his way through one of his timeless songs will question the fact that he was an unbelievable songwriter. Smith had a gentle and almost loving touch on his guitar … one that evoked a passionate relationship, the details of which only experience can divulge. His gentle touch worked hand in hand with his gentle voice. Smith sang in a near whisper, making his music seem honest, sad and lovely all at the same time.

He was true to his art which was his passion and his true love. At the time of his death, Smith was in the midst of recording his sixth record entitled “From A Basement On The Hill.” The record, although planned to be released sometime next year will never be complete … somewhat like the life of Elliot Smith, there for all the world to hear if only for a short time … Elliot Smith 8/6/69-10/21/03