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Steven Paul "Elliott" Smith (August 6, 1969 – October 21, 2003) was an American singer-songwriter and musician. He rose to mainstream prominence when his song "Miss Misery" — included in the soundtrack for the film Good Will Hunting — was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Original Song category in 1998. Smith suffered from depression, alcoholism, and drug addiction, and these topics often appeared in his lyrics. At age 34, he died in Los Angeles, California from two stab wounds to the chest.


Tropes associated with Elliott Smith include:

  • Adam Westing: The short film Southlander features Smith obsessing over an infomercial for a robotic hand that will allegedly make him the world's greatest guitarist.
  • Author Existence Failure: Smith committed suicide before the release of "From A Basement On The Hill", which was initially planned as a double album.
  • Ballad of X: "Ballad of Big Nothing".
  • Breakup Breakout: He was originally in an indie rock band called Heatmiser, who broke up just after he became recognized as a solo artist. Elliott Smith eventually became a household name in the world of independent music. Heatmiser? Not so much.
  • Broken Record: In the song "Last Call" he repeats "ask for more" twice in rapid succession and then "I wanted her to tell me that she would never wake me" seven times.
  • Cool Shades: The videos for "Coming Up Roses" and "Miss Misery."
  • Cover Version: "Because" and Thirteen"
  • Dead Artists Are Better
  • Freudian Excuse: He was sexually abused by his step father when he was young.
  • Garage Band: Many of his early songs were recorded in his basement on a Four Track.
  • Literary Allusion Title: Either/Or.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Amity", "I Can't Answer You Anymore", "I Didn't Understand" and probably others.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: "Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands" is about an intervention staged by Smith's friends which set off a chain of events that lead to him being committed to a mental institution in Arizona.
  • Never Suicide, Always Murder: Due to some irregularities in his autopsy some believe that his girlfriend at that time, Jennifer Chiba, murdered him.
  • No Title: "No Name #1-6," of which four are on the same album. Other song titles are equally indescriptive, like the B-side "Some Song."
  • One-Woman Song: Subverted with the Two Woman Song "Cecilia/Amanda."
  • Precision F-Strike: "A Distorted Reality is Now a Necessity to Be Free"
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Smith was a far better harmonist than a lead singer. See the acapella "I Didn't Understand" and his cover of The Beatles' "Because".
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: The intro to "King's Crossing"
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