For their new benefit compilation “A Brief Smile – A Tribute To Elliott Smith” Funk Turry Funk asked several musicians for their very own take on one of the many timeless songs of that musical genius. We reached out to a couple of the contributers and let them tell us why they chose their specific song. For more information on how to get this great compilation with excellent cover versions by Adam Rubenstein, Andrew Paley, Ducking Punches and so on, scroll to the back of the article.
I went with “Waltz #2.” I’ve actually been covering it off and on for a long time — all the way back to my first solo show ever. It’s one of my favorite Elliott Smith songs (hard to pick just one), and I gravitated towards it originally as a cover because I really loved the atmosphere of the song and the story it tells (and the “I’m never going to know you now, but I’m going to love you anyhow” refrain in particular).
Andrew Paley (“Waltz #2”)
I wouldn’t say “Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud” is my all-time favorite track. But much like all of Figure 8, it has some candy-like Beatles-y moments–from it’s vocal harmonies, to it’s 7th chords, to it’s economical arrangement. think Elliott was wildly innovative and underrated as a producer and arranger (with Rob Schnapf at the helm of course).
Adam Rubenstein (“Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud”)
My band chose ‘Cupid’s Trick’ because it starts as intimate as any Elliott Smith song but then it opens up into a proper raunchy jam – almost rock roll – and also I love the lyrical idea of “I should’ve lied” – in other words he regrets being too honest, which isn’t often expressed in song lyrics. It’s a killer track.
Chris T-T (“Cupid’s Trick”)
Hi we’ re SEA + AIR, we picked “Everything Means Nothing To Me” cause it means a whole lot to us!
SEA + AIR (“Everything Mean Nothing To Me”)
We chose “The Biggest Lie”. It’s not my number one favorite Elliott Smith song but it’s certainly high up there. I chose this song because through listening to it for years, I always in the back of my head would hear a bigger chorus and more layered Elliott-style harmonies. This recording gave me the opportunity to experiment with different ways to fill out the chorus’ a bit more and invent my own harmonies in parts I had always sung in my head. I really love this song because it’s a vivid emotional song that evokes nostalgic memories, and aspects of life and loss.
Stocksmile (“The Biggest Lie”)
I picked “Going Nowhere”, one song by Elliott Smith I can easily rely to. I love the raw feeling of that song, making us feel like the scene is happening at present tense. He was a great songwriter and had great ability to play with with chords progression, adding out of scale chords here and there. One has to be a great songwriter to do this.
Jo Bergeron (“Going Nowhere”)
“Fond Farewell” always struck my as Elliott Smith’s “radio single” if he ever had one. There’s a real art in explaining a complex musical personality in the parameters of a simple verse/chorus form, and that’s the biggest goal with my own songwriting, so I’ve always really related to this song for that. I relate to the lyrics pretty deeply as well. I’ve burned a lot of bridges in my life, often prematurely, so for me this song is a reflection on that side of my personality. This song brings out something pretty raw in me, and I’m glad I was able to show that in the recording.
Secret Space (“Fond Farewell”)