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Posts tagged ‘entertainment’

Remembering Elliott

Those souls who have left this earth for heaven, or whatever we believe is beyond are missed and remembered by those close to them. But there are those souls who leave us that were able to affect a great number of people by their time on earth, and Elliott Smith is one of them. He touched us with his music; words creatively brought together that often spoke of heartache, of sadness, of anger and even hope in the midst of despair, paired with achingly beautiful melodies that often betrayed the mood of the words. He was able to get us to listen to the sad reality of life that it is sometimes, in the guise of musical notes that danced with joy. In doing this he created a following of listeners who empathized with him and felt that Elliott understood the pain in their own lives.

During his many live shows, Elliott brought himself even closer to his followers, as they hung onto every word and every note he played in utter admiration and devotion; all eyes and ears completely focused on the lone man  playing his sweet and precious music. Elliott had a gracious way of making his audience feel so involved in every show, so appreciated; never putting himself up on a pedestal. Song requests were shouted out, or oftentimes Elliott would ask what the audience wanted to hear. He would tell little stories that fed the camaraderie he had with his fans, and they felt as if they knew him intimately.

Despite all the drama and despair that was his lifetime – dealing with depression, addictions, and a sadly violent death – Elliott Smith gave all he could to the career he chose as a musician. He crafted his music with a perfectionist’s touch, and toured extensively to bring that music to all who wanted to hear him play. He showed us the qualities he possessed of hard work, integrity, generosity, and compassion in the man that he was, not letting his struggles in life hold back the gift he gave to us of amazing music, created from his very soul.

Elliott Smith would have been 43 years old today, and he would still be blessing us with lovely songs. In this world he is lovingly remembered by the timeless legacy he left of music, but he will also be remembered as a sweet and gentle soul who just wanted everyone  to enjoy his gift of song.

Memorial plaque of Elliott Smith that hangs in Lincoln High School in Portland, OR

Artwork done of Elliott Smith that hangs in the Crystal Hotel in Portland, OR

Their Friend

 

Every venue he plays

Becomes an intimate setting

As if he sits

With the audience

In their living room

He greets them with a shy “hello”

Then sits in the chair

The small man and his guitar

Swallowed up by the stage

He nervously picks at the guitar

And a song starts to emerge

The crowd cheers

Then a hush ensues

He holds them in the rapture of melody

The song ends

They cheer once more

A quickly spoken “thanks”

Is shared with his followers

They talk to him

Asking him questions

He politely answers

Someone shouts “I love you!”

“I love you too” he replies

And this exchange of love

Is what endears him to them

To every face in the crowd he is

Their friend who sings

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Perfectly Portland – The Big Busk

One of the things that really drew me to Portland was the great music scene here. I had always felt pride in the wide ranging nationally known music of Minneapolis – Prince, The Replacements and Bob Dylan of course, even though he really turned into more of a New Yorker when he finally achieved his fame. But now I am proud of not only the great music that has come out of Portland – Elliott Smith, The Decemberists, Sleater-Kinney and even Paul Revere & The Raiders – but the emphasis and respect that is given to the buskers, the talented and hard working street musicians that serenade us all around the city.

Today was a special event designed to give extra special notice to the music of the streets, a festival called The Big Busk. Unlike most music festivals that are held in one specific location, this one was held all throughout the downtown area, on various street corners. Each artist or group was given an hour at a time on whatever corner they chose, allowing a rotation of artists and locations. This guideline is actually part of something called the Street Musician Partnership Agreement. This is a policy that was written to help the street musicians and downtown businesses come to agreement on some guidelines to assure a safe, respectful and enjoyable time for all, allowing everyone to take in the joy of hearing great music in such an amazing city setting.

I often stop to listen to the buskers on any given day when I am out and about, as well as taking in the great buskers that are always playing at the eclectic gathering we call Saturday Market. But today was so much fun, as I came across so much great music.  I listened to a young man play music on a gorgeous guitar, which I’m sure is his pride and joy that he saved up to buy, complete with a leather guitar strap with roses embossed on it (Portland is known as the Rose City). Then I listened to a duo sing a song that lifted my spirits; words sung to me of hope that I really needed to hear – and they gave me a free cd of their music! I saw a woman in a long skirt pushing a xylophone to her next corner destination, but I lost her somewhere along the way. But I found a woman playing a beautiful handmade hammered dulcimer, that produced ethereal sounds in contrast to the cacophony of the city noises. What a lovely way to spend a bright and sunny summer’s day, listening to the sweet sounds of music in the city I love so much.

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