This Monday marked the seven-year anniversary of Elliott Smith’s posthumous album, New Moon. The songs were recorded from 1994 to 1997 in conjunction with his two releases during that time: Elliott Smith (1995) and Either/Or (1997).
These releases were what hurdled him into an eventual contract with Dream Works Records, an Academy Award nomination and an Oscar performance of the song “Miss Misery,” which is featured in the 1998 film Good Will Hunting along with five of his other songs.
“Miss Misery” appears as an earlier version on the two-disk New Moon with a much different cadence and composition, fitting in with the rest of the album’s melancholic, mellow meter.
Also featured on the album is “Thirteen,” a cover of the Big Star hit and a song that Smith frequently played during shows. Smith’s rendition is in a more minor key which complements his fragile voice in a manner so convincing that all signs of a cover are lost. The song fits him and perfectly compliments the rest of the album.
Blue Moon was released four years after Smith’s possible suicide (although the LAPD has never fully ruled the possibility that it could be a homicide). And the album works like a time machine.
The songs will transport you back to the time of the Elliott Smith and Either/Or releases. It brings him back as a force in music and gave us one last piece of him to relish over and a way to rediscover him and his iconic sound.
While he did have one other release after his death, From a Basement on the Hill, all of those songs were recorded from 2002 to 2003. That album doesn’t provide the same secretive and revealing tone of Blue Moon, which showcases a younger, more naïve Smith that is more than five years removed from Basement’s recordings.
Continuing to explore the legacy that Smith left is the documentary titled Heaven Adores You. The film premiered at the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival this Monday, the same day as Blue Moon’s anniversary. It both focused on his life, songwriting, and the impact that his music continues to have on the world. While it is only currently showing in San Francisco and, soon, Toronto, the producers hope to have screenings in more cities in due time.
For now, you can watch the trailer here: