XO, Elliott

Rest in Peace, Elliott Smith (1969-2003)

Smith was involved in a fracas with L.A. County sheriffs at a Flaming Lips/Beck show last November that landed him in jail. The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne told Billboard Magazine last week that Smith had appeared "to have lost control of himself," describing him as "needy" and "grumpy."

Smith told Under the Radar Magazine in a March interview that he had been treated for drug and alcohol addiction at the Neurotransmitter Restoration Center in Beverly Hills, with a process in which the blood is infused with massive amounts of amino acids and proteins, ostensibly restoring neurotransmitters to their pre-abuse state.

"I think he genuinely wanted to stop feeling so bad," Krebs says.

Damaged badly at best: Elliott Smith
Damaged badly at best: Elliott Smith

Smith had been in the process of completing an album titled From a Basement on a Hill and in August had released two songs, "Pretty (Ugly Before)" and "A Distorted Reality Is Now a Necessity to Be Free," on a limited-edition seven-inch single on Seattle's Suicide Squeeze label. He had built a recording studio in the San Fernando Valley and was reportedly shopping the album to independent labels after coming to an agreement with Dreamworks that allowed him a hiatus from his contract.

Whether From a Basement on a Hill will see release is not yet known, although there is reportedly enough completed music for a full LP. On one track, "King's Crossing," he sings, "Give me one reason not to do it..." Other song titles from the album are disturbing as well -- "Strung Out Again," "Let's Get Lost," "Shooting Star," and "Fond Farewell."

"He was always one for a play on words," Krebs says of the noirish titles. "On a lot of his songs, the titles were really telling. A lot of those titles were a lot less metaphoric and more abrupt than I've come to expect."

Elliott Smith's abrupt suicide, as sadly predictable as it was, significantly lessens the pool of great songwriters putting out sublimely beautiful music. His fans, friends, and family are left only with memories and an incredible catalog of recordings by one of the greatest songwriters in recent history.

"I don't have a memory of him as a drug addict or as a crazy person or anything other than my friend," Krebs says, "a really funny, really supersmart, caring person."

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