I've always been a big Elliott Smith fan. Recliner's Leaving Hollywood was partly written about him and his passing along with another friend I saw headed down a similar path. Though it took a while, that other friend made it through, fortunately.

So I've been listening to him a lot on this 10th anniversary of his death. It's weird, I always thought an anniversary should be a remembrance of a happy event. Of course it's simply a marking of time. Anyhow, I guess the happy part of this bummer of an anniversary is that it's made me revisit a lot of Elliott Smith's music.

He had a such a searingly sad voice, but not without a bit of hope. At least that's how I hear it. Most of all, it's his sense of melody and insanely tight harmonies that first turned me on to him. I'm a sucker for that. But this time around, I've realized how different his stuff was from album to album. Each approached the music and the lyrics a little differently and seemed to get more autobiographical as he got more caught up in his own head. There's a great written oral history that chronicles just that. It's worth a read. And if nothing else, you will no longer have the urge to be doing copious amounts of drugs by the end.


Throughout my recent Elliott Smith binge I was reminded of a similarity to some of my friend Tony Sly's music. Another gifted songwriter gone too soon, Tony had taken a more slowed down and introspective approach on his last two solo albums which really showed his songwriting chops.

There's a new Tony Sly tribute album coming out which I had the pleasure of hearing at the record release party a few months back. It's really fantastic - both in theory and in execution. The proceeds all go to his family, his wife and two little girls. And his peers came out in droves to pay tribute, including Frank Turner, Alkaline Trio, NOFX, Bad Religion and The Gaslight Anthem.

I am pretty certain that Tony was a fan of Elliott Smith as well. And you could hear some of the same sensibilities, albeit buried under 150 beats per minute in No Use For a Name. But his solo records bear a stronger resemblance. And with The Songs of Tony Sly: A Tribute, you can hear Tony's songwriting shine through in other people's interpretations

The record runs the gamut, with some very faithful renditions, and some unrecognizably re-realized efforts (in the best of ways). It's worth your time, your money, and your good karma points to order one.

I miss you Tony. But I'm glad this record is finally getting some of the press your solo work deserved a long time before your passing.

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