Elliott Smith was one of the most gifted songwriters of the '90s, adored by fans for his subtly melancholic words and melodies.The sadness had its sources in the life.There was trauma from an early age, years of drug abuse, and a chronic sense of disconnection that sometimes seemed self-engineered.Smith died violently in LA in 2003, under what some believe to be questionable circumstances, of stab wounds to the chest.By this time fame had found him, and record-buyers who shared the listening experience felt he spoke directly to them from beyond:astute, damaged, lovelorn, fighting, until he could fight no more. And yet, although his intimate lyrics carried the weight of truth, Smith remained unknowable. In Torment Saint, William Todd Schultz gives us the first proper biography of the rock star, a decade after his death, imbued with affection, authority, sensitivity, and long-awaited clarity.
Torment Saint draws on Schultz's careful, deeply knowledgeable readings and insights, as well as on more than 150 hours of interviews with close friends from Texas to Los Angeles, lovers, bandmates, music peers, managers, label owners, and recording engineers and producers. This book unravels the remaining mysteries of Smith's life and his shocking, too early end.It will be, for Smith's legions of fans and readers still discovering his songbook, an indispensable examination of his life and legacy.
In this detailed biography of Elliott Smith, the gifted singer-songwriter who was beloved by the indie-rock world and praised for solo albums such as Either/Or, Schultz opens a window on the musician who died from a fatal stab wound in 2003 at age 34. Schultz editor of the Handbook of Psychobiography and author of books on Truman Capote and Diane Arbus brings to his work a deep understanding of how inner and outer landscapes can affect unique and sensitive artists. Schultz follows the "uncanny" intersection of the lives of Smith and fellow Pacific Northwest rocker Kurt Cobain: both witnessed domestic violence and divorce during their childhoods, with "resulting feelings of abandonment and loss of security showing up regularly in songs"; both suffered from lifelong bouts of depression; both hung out in Portland bars where "the prevailing mid-1980s zeitgeist" included "punk, indie, anything-goes aesthetics"; and both used hard drugs such as heroin. But no matter how dark Smith's story gets, Schultz never loses sight of the beauty of his music.