Friday, September 11, 2015

"Torment Saint" By William Todd Schultz

Unlike the recent documentary, Torment Saint brings Elliott Smith into focus as a true American artist who made music simply because he loved music and was passionately moved by the musicians he admired.  I've read a lot of biographies in my life, but with the advent of YouTube at my disposal, reading these words while at the same time being able to listen to and watch all the performances and songs was exciting and inspiring.  

As a musician, myself, I understood the passion Elliott had for recording right from the start... his urgency to tape everything that popped into his head while the concept was still fresh and alive... the scuffling about - so young - from Radio Shacks to musicians' clearance houses trying to find any old equipment he could use - anything that would get the job done there and then... duplicating homemade cassettes and inserts with original art and photographs... trying to get those cassettes into the right hands.  

Schultz's empathetic, compassionate style is warm and heartfelt throughout; he made me smell the Portland rain and the NYC dive bars... he made me ebb and flow with Elliott's highs and lows.  He introduced me to all of his friends, his family and musicians - the characters and stories that inspired his songs. He knew Elliott lived his songs and the lyrics were his life story.

Elliott lived a short life that was filled to over-flow with experiences that take most of us a lifetime to have.  He was focused because he knew who he was and what he wanted to do; he knew his limitations and understood his talent and his shortcomings. Unlike most of the megastars today, he played all of his instruments and wrote, sang and performed his tracks. There was no pretending; he didn't care if he fit in, he didn't care if he was a hit.  He just knew what to do, how to do it and got it done. Elliott's site.

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