What is heaven like Elliott Smith? I have been listening to your records since I got home this morning and I found out that you died. Did you get to meet Him right away? I bet they moved you to the front of the line. Is God nice? Do you feel better? Your songs were like the thoughts that rushed through my head all the time, this bittersweet dark rainy loveliness that wouldn’t leave me, and I never wanted them to leave me, but sometimes it was sad, and sadness is kind of my religion, and I worshipped you because you weren’t afraid to show it. I cannot believe that your soft voice is now silent and there is only these Kill Rock Stars cds left, that swirly Figure 8 album cover, looking like it was lifted from that Silverlake storefront, all your songs, the perfect lyrical accompaniment to my own personal loneliness to remember you by. I wish I had told you how much your music meant to me, to so many many people. There was a bunch of times I could have said it, when I saw you hanging out at the back of Largo and you with your vintage tee and rust cords and All Stars, but I got scared that you wouldn’t like me, and I never said anything. A handful of times I saw you in New York, walking fast in the East Village, but it was like you were surrounded by a light that held you up above the street and you didn’t touch the ground but floated up above just an inch or so that you were there but not there. I could see you but you couldn’t see me.
You were supposed to save pop music. Remember that LA Weekly cover? Your face on the front, looking scared and beautiful, and I am sorry, so so so very sorry that you are gone. What happened? I guess it doesn’t matter now and nothing does really. I just feel sorry and bad that we couldn’t do anything to help. That all the people that loved you really didn’t make much of a difference. That our love wasn’t enough, or didn’t reach you, or put you off, that you were unhappy anyway. But maybe your unhappiness was what we loved about you, so that our love was a constant reminder of how much unhappiness you had. I understand. We were selfish then, and for that I am angry for you. Mad for you. Sad for you. Loving you from here on the earth where things aren’t so great, not at all, but fuck you made things a lot better and now that you are not here we just all have to act like life goes on and there goes another rock star and its better to burn out instead of fade away and whatever the fuck – whatever the fuck. All I can say is that I am crying as I write this, as I listen to your secretly sorry voice on Either/Or and I am wondering if you are hovering in the air above your house, watching the grief stricken fans and old friends walking wounded trying to understand where you went, why you went. If they can reach you now, with their thoughts, their hearts, their love. Can you see them? Does it make anything better? A whole shitload of hipsters are crying right now, hiding behind their ironic 70s sunglasses and vintage western snap front shirts. Legions of girls with scars from cutting themselves and dyed black hair are lighting candles and contemplating joining you today. Thirtysomething dudes with dirty shag haircuts are shaking their heads, looking down at their big jokey belt buckles, thinking about having a beer before the sun goes down, because it isn’t a good day for any of us, because you aren’t here to represent.
One time I was in Portland on tour, an early morning before I was about to leave for home and I walked into a bagel shop. You were there, not in person, but your record was playing. The sleepy, baby cute hippie kid behind the counter was singing along to you, quiet just like you, and he knew every word. There was another raggedy girl cleaning up tables behind me, and she was singing too. Then this other kid came into the shop, and waited in line, and he was singing – as if on cue, a little off key, but almost in harmony. Pretty soon, so was I. But we were all in our own private worlds, our voices barely audible, singing only for ourselves. Were you singing for yourself? I hope so. I hope that you could love your music like it was loved by everyone else.
Goodbye gentle soul. Goodnight. How sorry I am to see you go. But you were maybe too beautiful for this world. So beautiful that it hurt to be in it. I hope that you are not hurting anymore. I hope everything is good wherever you are. I hope that you are happy. Everything reminds me of you.