Elliott Smith’s Heaven Adores You

24th March 2016

Label: Eagle Vision

Running Time: 165min

“I only know things are different because people ask me different questions. I don’t think that things are changed. I do the same things that I did before. I think about the same things.”

An insight into the life of Smith who seemed to exist in his own bubble, “I’m the wrong kind of person to be really big and famous,” he said.

All of that before the credits had even even rolled so I had a rough idea that this documentary of the singer-songwriter was going to be different. This film begins with an intimate chat. Elliott with his, self-confessed “dirty hair’, lank and limp, over his head.

Friends and colleagues are quick to add to the growing monster that was called ‘fame’. Each tends to see fame as a worst thing that afflicted Elliott. He died by, well, who really knows? His own hand? Someone else’s? Whatever, it was late in 2003. It seemed that Elliott agreed about the fame thing too.

You see the street shrine devoted to the man, poignant stuff because its packed with varied  and unique objects. All ad hoc. All on the spur of the moment. Those friends and colleagues are back. Full of emotion and grief still.

Then the footage is backed by the music from Elliott who haunts the talking heads. People who are still here. Still alive.

The film features plenty of rarities. There’s a range of audio interviews plus an early radio interview. There also some family and band photos, hand-written lyrics, posters, handbills, interviews with childhood friends and a general personal and career history documented from the same including plenty of rare Elliott music excerpts that stemmed from his early rock group days. This content is densely interweaved with a general history of the Portland music scene – which is of interest in its own right.

The evolution of Elliott and his art is a fascinating journey. There’s not an ounce of fat on this film, which is a rarity in itself.

Includes extended interviews plus a bonus song, sung by Aaron Espinoza.