Elliott Smith on songwriting
I think the thing I love most about Elliott Smith is that, even though he was deeply entrenched in Portland’s lo-fi, DIY scene of the ’90s, he was essentially a pop songwriter, rarely straying too far from established formulas and conventions. Yet he wrote beautiful, haunting, and especially interesting songs within these strictures.
His music is deeply rooted in the early ’60s pop tradition; his lyrics reference hits of the era like “Cathy’s Clown” and “Crimson and Clover.” I find this interesting because the songwriters of this time, whether they came from the Brill Building, Motown, or somewhere more obscure, were basically doing the same thing as Elliott Smith—subtly playing with formula, creating art within convention.
There’s great beauty to be found in convention if you’re willing to do a little digging.