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Elliott Smith

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  605 ratings  ·  52 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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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
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Es un tributo hermoso, intenso y brutal al legado de Elliott Smith. Hay algunos textos y entrevistas que hablan sobre la relevancia de su discografía. Pero lo más hermoso es la recopilación de retratos. Donde Autumn hizo una selección nostálgica y poderosa de tal vez su mejor momento creativo. Incluyendo las sesiones de grabación de Figure 8. Y sí, también lloras.
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
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 :)
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: non-fiction, music, i-own
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
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
I liked reading this, but this is perhaps because I'm just a tad obsessed.
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.
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.
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
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.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it liked it
It was good to balance this more lighthearted approach with Todd Schultz' Torment Saint. Great photos.
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.
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
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 fr ...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
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
Oct 18, 2007 marked it as to-read
Shelves: music, art
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
Craig Shields
This book is mostly a collection of photos by the author of her subject, the singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, who killed himself in 2003 at the age of 34. Interviews with people who knew Elliott comprise the rest of the book, and while the interviews are interesting, they paint less a picture of Elliott and more how the interviewees were affected by him. A comprehensive biography it ain't, but the pictures are beautiful.
Jan 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
A Christmas gift from my wife, the book lived up to some of the promise -- providing insight and memories from people who knew Elliott Smith during his too short life, and plenty of remarkable photographs. Occasionally, it drifted too close to fanspeak to be truly revealing, but as a fan, I didn't mind too much.
Jan 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
Elliot Smith is always playing in my car, office, home. If I ever took time to load music on my I-pod, he'd be there too. This tribute to him just makes me sad. It is photographs, interviews, and a short CD of live recordings. The book is good, but I really wish that he was alive to create more great music.
Jan 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
The photography is fantastic, The CD wonderful, and the stories show a side of Elliott Smith that is more human and less the archetype people perceive from his music. Great coffee table book!
"Imagine if the Tom Petty song 'I won't back down' was sung by a piece of poo!"
One of those books you'll keep forever and appreciate because they show another side to a person you only know through music, and for me even indirectly. It's hard to have a connection to someone who died when I was twelve years old, but I'll be chasing his starlight for the rest of my life.
Mar 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This coffee table book is a brimming collection of professional photographs of singer/songwriter Elliott Smith. De Wilde also included various interviews by people who knew or were touched by Smith. It is a delicate and sensitive collaboration and rightly captures the heart of this talented man.
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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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