Either/Or – Elliott Smith

On February 25th, 1997, Elliott Smith, aka the songwriter of this generation, put out this gem on the label Kill Rock Stars. For anyone who hasn’t heard this album, you’re missing out on one of the best albums of the past 20 years.

Armed with a guitar and a soft but defined voice, Smith did what posers like James Morrison and Damien Rice wish they could do. He was inspired by the likes of the Beatles and Nico and it became obvious. His dark lyrics about depression are juxtaposed by his pretty melodies and progressions. This isn’t just another sensitive guy with a guitar: this is the real deal.

The album is based upon the book of the same name by Soren Kierkegaard and deals with choosing between a life of beauty or a life of moral good. I didn’t know that until a few months ago, but you really don’t need to view this as a concept album to appreciate the songs. After this album was released, Smith hit the big time. Gus Van Sant used two songs from this album for the 1997 smash hit (and Ben Affleck’s only good movie besides “the Town”) “Good Will Hunting” and had Smith contribute the Oscar-nominated “Miss Misery” to the soundtrack as well (fuck Celine Dion for stealing that one).

While success followed Smith when the album was released, so did more bouts of depression. His suicidal thoughts were fueled more and more by his deepening drug addiction. After this album, he released one more before taking his life in 2003.  The years that followed saw posthumous releases. Those albums showed that even among his wide amount of b-sides, there was hardly ever one that really sucked.

If you haven’t heard any of Smith’s music, it’s a good start. It’s got a lot of fan favorites and a couple of his most known songs. You should also check out his other albums too. Aside from XO, there’s not an album I really can’t get into. He made real music, kids. There’s really no one like him out there today and unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be anyone else being able to take over. Suicide sucks peeps. Don’t do it unless you’re in a real shit band (like My Chemical Romance, but that’s only a matter of time).

Anyways, you can find the album somewhere around HERE. It’s definitely worth owning. He’s one of the few musicians that hipsters dig that isn’t crap. Okay, enough fanboy talk. Check out the video “Lucky Three” and some of the other stuff I have below if you want a better idea of what he’s like.

Lucky Three

Miss Misery

“Playing it safe is one of the most popular ways to fail.”

-Elliott Smith

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  • Stuff from the Past

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