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Original Essays | April 11, 2014

Paul Laudiero: IMG Shit Rough Draft

I was sitting in a British and Irish romantic drama class my last semester in college when the idea for Shit Rough Drafts hit me. I was working... Continue »
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Torment Saint: The Life of Elliott Smith by William Todd Schultz
Torment Saint: The Life of Elliott Smith

HilaryLynne, November 16, 2013

Elliott Smith was one of the great existential poets and singer-songwriters of the past century. Despite his intense vulnerability, despair and eventual heroin addiction, Smith embraced the spotlight, if uneasily, and remained incredibly prolific during his brief career. Schultz's gentle, expansive and lovingly written biography winds the reader through Smith's childhood--wholesome and Texan yet fraught with abuse--formative years at Hampshire, time with Heatmeiser and eventual departure into a solo career. He includes poignant details such as a photo of Smith playing his girlfriend's tiny Le Domino guitar on "Roman Candle"; the fact that he'd have been named Monday if he'd been born a girl and planned to name his own child Tuesday; that the last words he sang to an audience were "...how I love you" from a cover of The Beatles' "Long, Long, Long".

In the wake of his premature death, the myth that Smith was murdered sadly overshadowed the legacy of the music he left behind. Schultz bravely tackles Smith's suicide, interviewing the Deputy Medical Examiner and presenting as much information as he can about the fateful morning of October 21 2003 without agenda nor bias.

Fortunately, Schultz devotes only a small portion of the book to Smith's death focusing instead on his early work (the high school chapters are amazing--he was clearly a prodigy), later albums and influence. An ideal book for music lovers, existentialists, poets and Elliott Smith fans alike.
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