So let’s talk about somebody I know something about: Northwest treasure (and sadly departed) Elliott Smith. I will never forget when I first heard Roman Candle, his first solo album, and Heatmiser, his band at the time. I lived in Boston but had a friend who had recently moved from Portland and had some incredible music to share. Since then he’s been one of my favorite songwriters/singers/musicians. It was a wonderful thing to watch his career take off — seeing him come through Boston, playing bigger venues each time, then seeing him play on the Oscars (skip to about 3:00 on that video) — and to watch him grow as a musician; and then, like many, I was in shock for a long time after his death in 2003.
Here’s Elliott Smith’s second album, which is (somewhat confusingly) self-titled. At the time this and Roman Candle were released, he might have been better known to the KCMU folks for his work with Heatmiser. I imagine them being somewhat surprised (and, as you can see by the response, delighted) by the simple, stripped-down acoustic songs that greeted their ears.
|“This isn’t his solo debut. He released an EP titled Roman Candle about a year ago. I wish we had it too, as well as his single with Pete Krebs of Hazel.”
“Roman Candle is on Cavity Search. We really ought to get it.”
“The Hell with Mary Lou Lord — this is good and has genuine depth. Wow.”
“Elliott is marvelous! [adorable drawing of cat]”
As you can see, there was demand for Elliott’s first release, Roman Candle, but for whatever reason, it seems they never got around to getting it (which is a shame, because it’s one of my favorite albums ever). Until one fine day in 2001, when a helpful person at the station stepped forward…
|“Hey, I’m donating a CDR of this early E.S. album. It’s great! Any song… tho’ I like 1, 2, 4, 6, 8. -MG”|
It’s a CD-R with a photocopied insert, but it’s certainly better than not having this album at all. Thank you, MG, for finally bringing this gem into the KEXP fold. We are all much better for it.