In listening to Elliott Smith’s XO last night, and again this morning, I was struck by the beauty of the track “Independence Day”, which has been playing in my mind rather pleasantly since.

Here’s a clip of Elliot Smith with the accompanying song to give you an idea of what I mean.


The fact that Smith died violently by his own hand makes me wonder whether or not thoughts of this affects the way people hear his music – that for all of it’s melodic charm, it is the product of a disturbed mind. In my view, that’s not the point. Sure, I think that there’s darkness lurking underneath most of the material Smith put out. But I think the beauty of it overcomes any intentions he might or might not have had when making it. I think this is true of all art which is worth considering; that the art should always be considered bigger than the artist.

What do you think, good people?


3 thoughts on “Elliott Smith Sings “Independence Day”

  1. For me, Elliott Smith is one of those artists who so beautifully captured the truth he could see. The fact that he killed himself shows that he was also blinded by some truths to other truths (for instance: “life is pain” can blind “life is healing”). I definitely see value in Smith’s music and lyrics as a source of beauty and truth, but as with all artists (especially the shiny happy ones – often of the CCM variety) they can’t give a complete picture of the truth. A good variety is necessary and Smith is a vital element.

  2. I think that even the best art is an attempt at communicating truth – it’s a snapshot. I think that’s part of what’s so vital about it – that it is an intrinsically human activity. That’s why I am convinced that we need art, that it’s not just a way of passing the time.

    It’s a shame that Smith became separated from the beauty which he’d uncovered. Perhaps he was too close to it to really see it.

    Thanks as always, Zaak, for your contribution!

  3. I feel that I listen to a rather wide variety of music and have pretty eclectic tastes, but I rarely have I come across such a brilliant, tortured artist. There is a great new book out with pictures and insights from other artists on the life and times of one, Elliott Smith. His music is beautiful and yet, haunting at times. He really had an in depth knowledge of the human condition and communicated perfectly through his music.

What are your thoughts, Good People? Tell it to me straight.

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