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>> [Music: Elliott Smith “2:45 AM”]
>> Elliott Smith: Oh, definitely. Yeah, there's a bunch of Elvis Costello records that like...
when I was in high school, just made all the difference
between feeling like a total freak and feeling like ... only a freak.
[laughter]
A freak among other freaks.
[Music:Elliott Smith: "2:45 AM"]
>> Barney Hoskyns: Tell me how your very distinctive, soft vocal style kind of emerged.
>> Elliott Smith: I didn't like how I sounded singing in my band,
but it was hard to sing like how I wanted to because
playing live I had to just be at the top of my lungs all the time,
and it made me sound like I had a really bad cold or something.
It sounds really hoarse and kind of macho and weird. [laughs]
I mean I've been doing four-track songs by myself since I was like a teenager,
where I'd sing in a way that I ... I just didn't think other people would like it,
so I didn't play it for them but eventually I got over that, which I'm happy that I did,
because it's kind of a drag to be playing a kind of music
that you don't really like as much as another kind.
>> [Music]
>> Barney Hoskyns: Obviously some people have given you some sort of folk music tag
and it just seems to me to be pretty off the mark.
>> Elliott Smith: Yeah, that really bothered me right at first,
when I first started playing, people would be like, “Paul Simon.”
I'd be like, “I don't feel like I'm anything like Paul Simon.”
>> Barney Hoskyns: And in some ways…
>> Elliott Smith: Thank you. Oh, iced tea.
>> Waitress: Do you want me to get you Cokes? They didn't have any.
>> Elliott Smith: No, that's fine, iced tea is great, thank you.
>> Barney Hoskyns: How much of your writing about, let's not call them addicts,
let's call them dependents.
How much of that is based on subjective experience
and how much is just based on being an observer?
>> Elliott Smith: I'm definitely in them, but on the other hand
it's not like a diary or anything.
But, yeah, it's good to call them dependents,
because that was the point, as opposed to them being songs strictly about drugs or…
There's lots of ways people can be dependent on another person, or drugs, or...
>> [Music: Elliott Smith “BETWEEN THE BARS”]
>> Elliott Smith: I think everybody has that... Those two irreconcilable ...
>> Barney Hoskyns: Impulses. >> Elliott Smith: Constant…
Doing battle with themselves that way, every day, all the time and sometimes it sucks,
but other times it results in people making sort of a dream comprehensible to someone else
People are so… seem so chaotic internally, but being filtered through some form
like making a record, sort of filters it down into something that can be understood.
It's hard to represent chaos, or like an absence of something.
It's much easier to represent the presence of something or a situation.
People can be chaos but it's hard to fit it
into some creative piece that you made. It's hard.
>> [Music: Elliott Smith “Either/Or”]
>> Barney Hoskyns: Listening to Either/Or, I was kind of struck by how well it does manage
to juggle sweetness and pain. Is it too easy to say
these songs are kind of melancholy, there's a lot of sorrowful quality to Elliott Smith's music?
>> Elliott Smith: Yeah, they don't make me sad or feel sorrowful to me,
but on the other hand I’m not… a lot of people are kind of depressed.
I'm happy some of the time, and some of the time I'm not.
But like when I see a movie, for example, that I really like, that moves me or whatever
it’s usually happy and sad at the same time.
But, yeah, certain songs just feel a way that's hard to put into words
and it's not happy and it's also not really sad but I couldn't say what it is.
>> [Music]
>> Barney Hoskyns: You lived in these very different parts of America.
Dallas, Portland, Brooklyn, is a kind of interesting triangle, there.
>> Elliott Smith: Yeah, actually, I've been thinking about moving somewhere, out of the US, maybe,
just to get out of here.
>> Barney Hoskyns: Whereabouts are you thinking of going?
>> Elliott Smith: I don't know, I have no idea.
Somewhere where people aren't so mad would be nice
but I don't know if there is anywhere like that.
Who knows?
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Elliott Smith on Freaks | Blank on Blank | PBS Digital Studios

203 Folder Collection
VoiceTube published on September 20, 2016
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