Video: Heaven Adores You Trailer.

Heaven Adores You is a documentary about the life and impact of singer-songwriter Elliott Smith’s musicDirector Nickolas Rossi put his hand up to make the film backed by funds raised from a successful 2011 Kickstarter campaign. The documentary will premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival on 5 May 2014.

Featuring interviews with Smith’s Producer Rob Schnapf (Either/Or, XO, Figure 8, From a Basement on the Hill), Smith’s Manager of 6 years – Margaret Mittleman, Photographer Autumn de Wilde (Son of Sam video), Kill Rock Stars indie label founder Slim Moon, his ex-girlfriend Joanna Bolme, and many of his friends, family, former band mates, and industry colleagues.

The film spans Smith’s years in Portland with Heatmiser, his time in Brooklyn, New York City, and his move to Los Angeles and the Oscar nomination for Miss Misery, and his unfortunate death and the Memorial Wall dedicated to Smith in Silver Lake, LA, and the benefit concerts organised in 2013 by his sister Ashley Welsh.

I’m looking forward to seeing the documentary as it has been a while since I read the biography Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing written by Benjamin Nugent, and I’m sure there are more gaps that can be filled in years later when people are more willing to talk.

I first heard Elliott’s distinctive voice on radio in the indie-rock band Heatmiser. I recall they were heading towards great things as their last album Mic City Sons gained a lot of airplay when all of sudden the band broke-up.

When Elliott’s solo music started to seep out the following year (1994), almost under the radar, I remember becoming attached to his title track, Roman Candle (listen) from a free sampler. I still really love the song despite the 4-track recording glitches and it would probably make my Top 3 songs by Elliott if I were to make a list.

When Elliott’s music broke all over the world in 1996 due to the Good Will Hunting Soundtrack it was amazing. I never expected to hear this type of lo-fi music infiltrate the mainstream, and to see his music honoured at the 1998 Academy Awards a few years later was unfathomable.

I was very fortunate to see Elliott play a live and intimate performance at The Corner Hotel in Melbourne in January 1999 (view set list). He played a predominantly acoustic set, and was accompanied here and there by a couple of other musicians. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen an artist appear so vulnerable up on stage before. It felt like I was an uninvited guest watching him perform in his bedroom.

I remember him as a very shy performer who barely spoke between songs, but whom always had a stiff drink (Scotch on the rocks if my memory serves) within reach. Upon seeing Elliott in the flesh I was quite worried about Elliott’s pasty complexion as the heroin rumours abounded in press overseas.

When I heard that Elliott Smith died in 2003 it was quite devastating news. He was only 34 and it was a few short years since I saw him perform live. Initial reports were that he committed suicide from two self-inflicted chest wounds. Later, we heard from the autopsy that it may have been a homicide.

Whatever the cause, it was such a tragic way for a beautiful soul to die.

Further Exploration:

Previously on Sampling Station:

Elliott Smith with his guitar on tour 1998, Source: Heaven Adores You Website

Elliott Smith with his guitar on tour 1998, Source: Heaven Adores You Website


About noisynoodle

I am a noisy noodle hailing from Melbourne, Australia who loves listening to noise in all forms, but preferably in music, TV and film. I’ve moonlighted on community radio at SYN-FM many years ago when I was still a “youth”. My mission is to promote live music (get off your bum and see something!), highlight interesting TV shows that are ignored by the ratings, expose some cool films and to not go deaf trying!

2 responses »

  1. scottnavicky says:

    Great post! I saw Elliott in NYC in ’99. And I agree: he looked disturbingly fragile on stage.

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