Elliott Smith’s album Either/Or may not be the happiest album at first look, but for me, it makes me feel something and never anything bad. After dealing with my mom’s choice of music for sixteen years, I finally got my own car and Elliott Smith was my first musical choice. My first car was a symbol of social freedom but even more so musical freedom, because it came with my first personal CD player. I started with some mix CD’s from my brother’s music collection, including an Elliott Smith mix. After trying at least five other mix CD’s, I gave up and only played the Elliott Smith CD every day for two months straight. I did get tired of some of the music, but noticed I mainly skipped to songs from Either/Or. I’d often drive with the windows cracked open in winter singing (loudly) along to “Pictures of Me” and “Say Yes”. So, soon enough I got Either/Or and fell in love with the whole album. I looked forward to the longer drive to school and could not imagine how my friends dealt with only five minutes of music in the mornings.
The album taught me that 1) I suck at singing and all things musical and 2) I enjoy depressing-sounding songs. A favorite song of mine became “No Name No. 5,” one that stresses the dreary lyric “Everybody’s gone at last.” I did not want to always be alone, but the song and the album are soothingly dark and honest. Driving to Either/Or was a refreshing change from parents “suggesting” what to do and teachers throwing pointless work at me. Nothing was fake about my rides with the album nor was there someone talking at me about preparing for the real world. It was just me in an enclosed area with something I actually enjoyed and understood. While the songs on the album are wholeheartedly dark, I never interpret the lyrics for me as overly serious or urgent. I can listen to Either/Or and be perfectly calm. As a fidgety person, listening to Either/Or is one of the few things I can do while sitting still.
Elliott Smith- Pictures of Me Elliott Smith- No Name No. 5 Elliott Smith- Say Yes
Posted by Matt