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Elliott Smith

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  648 ratings  ·  60 reviews
Elliott Smith's intensely intimate music and open-hearted, Beatlesque pop songs have left a deep mark on a generation of fans and musicians in the wake of his tragic death in 2003. In Autumn de Wilde's remarkable photographs and conversations with close friends, family, and musicians he inspired, this is the first and only portrait of the beloved and troubled singer/songwr ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published November 1st 2007 by Chronicle Books
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Average rating 4.34  · 
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P.D. Maior
Who was Elliott Smith and why do I love this book so much? I even keep it on the Coffee Table in my Living Room and tell people about him - probably every chance I can get. This book is a snapshot of all the moments that make up his bio, or at least many years of it. Elliott Smith for me was a clear Kumara, something incredibly rare - I know of no other human being in recent times like him (and I am a historian!).

A Kumara, per Hinduism, is a being neither an “Avatar Saviour from High Heavens” fo
Amy Mitchell
Oct 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
When anyone would ask me what I wanted to go to college for, I would reply with "I want to grow up and be autumn de wilde." Whenever I'm photographing people, I always remind myself of this book. I've never felt such a personal connection between the relationship of Elliott Smith and Autumn De Wilde. I did a ten page artist report on their relationship for my History of Photography course, and having to look at her photographs and read about Smiths horrible depression really struck something ins ...more
Dec 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful tribute to an amazing man. Photographer Autumn De Wilde tracked down a lot of Elliott's old, close friends (as well as other musicians he's had an influence on) and gave them space to open up about their (often warm and/or hilarious) memories of him. In addition, she adds her own reflections on knowing Elliott, on the difficulty of being a fan, a friend, and a collaborator all at the same time, and fills the book with many of the pictures she took of Elliott throughout the years. Wha ...more
Jul 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
A book of photography and interviews about one of my favorite musicians. The photos (especially those from the Figure 8 era) are intimate and beautiful, and show a different side of an all-too-pigeonholed singer/songwriter. The interviews, conducted with close friends and family members of Smith's over the years, are equally sweet and revealing. Not to mention the accompanying CD, which is amazing :)
Andrew Thompson
Dec 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
Excellent photographs, good live CD, beautifully put-together quality hardback. The interviews are interesting and give the reader some insight into Elliott Smith's life. I'm so glad I got this book. I came rather late to his work and listen to his music very often. It's so sad there won't be any more. I can't help feeling that he probably wasn't quite such a consistently great guy as everyone says: he must have had a unique and messed-up vision to write those songs and was probably a royal pain ...more
Apr 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
It gets five stars for (1) not being cheesy; (2) memorializing a crapload of bad haircuts; (3) reproducing a letter from Sallie Mae informing Steven Smith that he paid off his school loans(!) and it's addressed to an apartment just a few blocks away from my own; (4) includes some very honest thoughts from friends about the mythology of Elliott Smith and his hand in creating it; and (5) an interview with his younger sister (by seven years) talking about how he would spend hours cutting her hair a ...more
Feb 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Rating what is really a photography book on Goodreads seems weird, but the interviews here go into less polemic aspects of his life while also showing another side of the polemic aspects. It's mainly sad to see his closest friends had already mourned for him years before he went, and it all makes you wonder if there is anything that can be done to stop certain people from going down this road or if, one or another, they will find a way to self-destruct eventually. Paired with the stunning photos ...more
Anthony Hauth
Jan 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
A fantasic collection of interviews with some great music-related people (Larry Crane is the best), and even more fantastic photographs of Elliott Smith, some right around Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park. Included is a CD of five songs from an acoustic gig in LA, including Hank William Jr.'s 'All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down'. A great book for your collection, if you are a music geek.
Meaghan  Moos
Feb 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own, non-fiction, music
Elliott Smith is one of my favorite musicians of all time. His guitar playing is so beautiful and his lyrics are heartbreaking. This book is a series of interviews with those closest to him. A little window into a very troubled soul. RIP
Apr 07, 2008 added it
Recommends it for: fans of Elliot Smith, anyone who thinks they might like Elliot Smith, photography fans
Shelves: ml420-s
There are some really beautiful pictures in this book - particularly the polaroids. The accompanying CD contains 5 alternate versions of some of Elliot Smith's greatest songs.
Feb 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
i'm so glad i picked this up. it's beautiful. and funny. and sad. worth it just for the shots that autumn was able to get. she has an incredible ability to capture moments on film.
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
I liked reading this, but this is perhaps because I'm just a tad obsessed.
Valarie Smith
Mar 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm thankful that Autumn de Wilde compiled these interviews - they really give me greater perspective on and context for who Elliott was as a person. At the same time, the format is frustrating. There are huge chunks of irrelevant conversations (not one, but two people from Death Cab for Cutie? Really?) and repeated anecdotes, yet sometimes, just as she and the interviewee start to touch on something real, personal and enlightening, they veer away.

Also, if they're gathered together and remarkin
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely stunning. There’s about 70 pages of interviews with some of Elliott’s nearest and dearest friends and relatives. The rest is comprised of photos of him and various other memorabilia such as lyric sheets and notes.

This is mainly focused on his Figure 8 era, however Autumn also includes some throwback images from the XO and Either/Or periods throughout her collection too.

It also comes with a bonus Live CD which adds a nice touch to the whole package.

Highly recommended for
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was the better of the books about Smith. I loved the photos and the funny stories. It was also pretty honest. Sometimes I think brutally. It's so long ago that I read it but some stories and personal feelings his friends told about were just hard hitting. I remember thinking, jeeze, take it easy, the guy's dead and grimly remarking to someone "with friends like these..." I'm sure Elliott knew how to be bitter and hard hitting himself, so maybe his friends were experiencing some of the anger ...more
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Autumn de Wilde's book starts off with photos but quickly transitions into very personal interviews with some of Elliott's best friends over the years. This puts the remaining photos into greater context.

Central to the interviews is the idea that Elliott was as complicated a human being as the rest of us -- a wonderful musician, but someone capable of doing good and bad to those in his personal life.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful photographs, and insightful transcriptions of conversations between some of those closest to Elliott. This book features some of the same people who are interviewed in the film Heaven Adores You, and some of the information is the same, but I found that in this book they also shared some more intimate and quirky things about Elliott that will make you feel like you knew him.
Eric T. Voigt
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spring-eighteen
Kind of a quaint history of the musician. The chummy vibes countered with the artistic celebration worked really nicely.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it liked it
It was good to balance this more lighthearted approach with Todd Schultz' Torment Saint. Great photos.
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Perfect book full of beautiful photographs and wonderful interviews. Paints a beautiful picture of a beautiful human being.
Jarda Petarda
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Elliott would be proud of this.
Roger Bailey
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Full of amazing photos and discussions with people who knew Elliott or were fans. Really touching and something I will revisit often.
Oct 08, 2014 rated it liked it
I felt the biggest strength of de Wilde's book on Beck was the interviews. I feel the same way about this book's interviews are with friends and other musicians. These interviews both give context to the images in the book as well as humanize the oft-mythologized Elliott Smith, painting the man as someone who was as fun as his songs were tragic. It isn't a 360 view of Smith--his motives, processes and methods in the various stages of his music are not explored--but the interviews help make a 360 ...more
Jan 07, 2009 added it
Shelves: reviewed
Read the STOP SMILING review of Elliott Smith, along with Lydia Lunch's Paradoxia, The Official Punk Rock Book of Lists by Amy Wallace and Handsome Dick Manitoba, and Dead Children Playing by Stanley Donwood and Dr. Tchock:

Through photos and interviews with those who knew the man best, Autumn deWilde’s book Elliott Smith uncovers how Smith could write songs everyone could relate to: He was just like everyone else. He liked to drink with his friends. He was sometimes funny and sometimes withdrawn
Jen Selinsky
Sep 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
At first, I was hesitant to purchase this book, because I thought it consisted of nothing but photographs. It's not that I have anything against that, but I also like to have text accompanying the pictures. For a few months, I kept contemplating purchasing it when it saw it in various bookstores. When I actually made the opportunity to flip through the book, I discovered the author also conducted interviews with people who worked with Elliott and were in his life. I was also highly encouraged by ...more
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is a beauty. The photos speak for themselves, and if you're an Elliott Smith fan you've seen much of Autumn de Wilde's work over the years, even if you don't know it.

What's most understated in this being a "photo book" is that it contains some of the most personal and heartfelt interviews ever conducted about Elliott. Autumn was great at capturing the contrast between the depth and severity of Elliott's depression, and the less-covered joy and happiness that brought to and shared with
Dave Mcgurgan
Sep 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Mostly pictorial book, with some supplementary text from photographer Autumn De Wilde and some notable musicians.

De Wilde took the photos for Elliott Smith's "Figure 8" album, so you'll see some familiar imagery here including outtakes, scenes from photo shoot and other pics reminiscent of that album's classic artwork.

It comes with a 5-song live CD recorded at Largo. Just Elliott acoustic and it's surprisingly good - not a throwaway freebie. Doubt that I'll go back to look very often at this, bu
Dec 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
i really wanted to love this book, and i did until i got to certain interviews & certain parts of certain interviews. this book could have used some editing (there were some negative things said and chunks of total irrelevance,an interview with an annoying guy who didnt know elliott but had a lot to say & everything he said was a train wreck, i found it bizarre that the author included all those things). other than that there were a lot of nice photographs & stories i really liked from people wh ...more
Brenda Tirado
Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book of photographs and very interesting interviews about Elliott Smith was definitely worth buying. Autumn de Wilde captures Elliott Smith's essence in a picture in a way that is unique and intriguing. The interviews were insightful as well. I learned more about Elliott's character and my fascination with his creativity and intellect has made me long to know him like his friends did. The little bonus 'Live at Largo' CD at the end of the book felt really special to me. All in all, a great p ...more
Oct 18, 2007 marked it as to-read
Shelves: art, music
Oooh yeah! I love Elliott & Autumn de Wilde's photography. Very exciting. Just heard about this book today via pitchforkmedia. If you're not familiar with de Wilde's work you might just realize that you actually are...she's worked with (done cover art for) Fiona Apple, Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins, The White Stripes, Beck, Built to Spill as well as directed videos for Elliott Smith, Spoon, and Death Cab for Cutie. (Check out her entry at ...more
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Autumn de Wilde is an American photographer noted for her portraiture and commercial work photography of indie musicians.

De Wilde was born in Woodstock, New York. Her father, Jerry de Wilde, was an art and commercial photographer noted for his photos of Jimi Hendrix, the Monterey Pop Festival and other icons of the 1960s. Autumn de Wilde had no formal education in photography, but learned photogra

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“I know sometimes tragic or humiliating events propel you into a better life, I've experienced that for sure, but it still hurts. It still burns. I think sometimes it hurts more because you can't wish it had never happened. It improved your life in the long run.” 35 likes
“I was driving with Arrow the other day, and from the back seat she said, 'I wish we moved into that house we were going to move into.' A house we didn't move into because it was my boyfriend's house and we broke up. I said, 'I'm sorry honey. Why do you wish we'd moved in there?' And she said, 'Because if we moved in there, we'd find all the things we thought that we had lost.” 6 likes
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