I was thinking the other day about Elliott Smith again, how I really miss his music, and it got me to thinking. Sometime last year before he apparently killed himself, Elliott put a new 7 inch (45, for those not hip to the terminology) out on Suicide Squeeze, a label here in Seattle. I heard the song on KEXP one night and thought, Man, that sounds bleak. Anyway, in all the subsequent tragedy I forgot about the song.
Until last week, when it occurred to me to look for it. The album he was working on hasn’t been released, and the single isn’t available digitally. But it is available on vinyl still. So I ordered a copy of “Pretty (Ugly Before)” b/w “A Distorted Reality Is Now a Necessity to Be Free” from Suicide Squeeze. It arrived today and I put it on. It’s like a valentine from Elliott. Some songs, like “No Name No. 5,” that he recorded years before the incident sound a lot more suicidal and dangerous to my ears today than this last of his recordings. This one sounds energetic, but it sounds angry. And somehow that makes me feel better. Elliott didn’t go quietly. He went fighting.