Elliott Smith – Fond Farewell To A Friend

Fond Farewell To A Friend - Elliott Smith

Listening to the music of Elliott Smith is an exercise in enduring his inner conflict. There is the certainty of sharing in his deep despair, the confessions of a man torn apart by depression, thoughts of suicide, alienation, and heavy drug and alcohol addiction. It also offers the rare opportunity to hear skillfully composed melodies that shoot to the heart with Beatlesque magnetism, along with intensely personal poetic lyrics, abounding with imaginatively extravagant imagery and elusive concepts that offer just enough glimmer of meaning to be engrossingly provocative.

Smith’s final album, From A Basement On The Hill, originally intended to be a double album, was released posthumously, almost a year after his death on October 21, 2003. At the time he was working on the album Smith was sober, continuing treatment and finding himself face to face with the depression and anxiety that had been obscured by his drug use. The album reflects these swirling emotions vividly, like Van Gogh stars, and for that reason it’s internal approach is anything but maudlin. “A Fond Farewell” exemplifies Smith’s uncanny ability to bring melody and inner torment together to form a highly absorbing work of art. From its opening line, “The lite brite’s now black and white cause you took apart a picture that wasn’t right” it is clear Smith is wasting no time in painting a disturbing yet highly compelling self portrait that exudes loneliness, emotional detachment and his struggle with learning to live in a new way that denied heroin’s quick fix for pain. The song opens like a peaceful garden, Smith’s guitar ringing with the hope of a George Harrison love song, but there is no peace or harmony here and when Smith spills his heart the garden is more a cemetery, a final resting ground for the body of a man so detached that he could poetically write of his own demise. Is Smith ironically eulogizing his former drug addicted persona or is the song a suicide note, a farewell, because sobriety was a lifestyle impossible to sustain? In one of the song’s most captivating moments Smith describes in chilling human detail the horrors of drug addiction and a life threatening depression, “The cold comfort of the in between. A little less than a human being. A little less than a happy high. A little less than a suicide.” If we accept that Smith died so violently by his own hand then these words were prophetic and hold tremendous psychological weight. We wish a fond farewell to our friend Elliott Smith who just couldn’t seem to “get things right” but gave us some of the most beautiful music ever written.

“The lite brite’s now black and white cause you took apart a picture that wasn’t right
Pitch burning on a shining sheet
The only maker that you’d want to meet
The dying man in a living room whose shadow paces the floor
Who’ll take you out in the open door

This is not my life ..It’s just a fond farewell to a friend
It’s not what I’m like..It’s just a fond farewell to a friend
Who couldn’t get things right..Fond farewell to a friend

He said really I just want to dance
Good and evil matched perfect it’s a great romance
I can deal with some psychic pain if it’ll slow down my higher brain
Veins full of disappearing ink..Vomiting in the kitchen sink
Disconnecting from the missing link

This is not my life..It’s just a fond farewell to a friend
It’s not what I’m like..It’s just a fond farewell to a friend
Who couldn’t get things right..Fond farewell to a friend

I see you’re leaving me and taking up with the enemy
The cold comfort of the in between
A little less than a human being..A little less than a happy high
A little less than a suicide
The only things that you really tried

This is not my life..It’s just a fond farewell to a friend
It’s not what I’m like..It’s just a fond farewell to a friend
Who couldn’t get things right..Fond farewell to a friend
This is not my life..It’s just a fond farewell to a friend”