Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"A lot of allegory"

Elliott Smith died 10 years ago yesterday. I mention this on a blog dedicated to Astral Weeks because of a passage I read in Pitchfork's oral history of Smith's music:
DORIEN GARRY: But it would infuriate him when people asked him what his lyrics were about. He really hated having to have an answer for what every character and every story was. Music was a way of channeling thoughts and feelings that were bigger than him into art, and he didn't feel like he owed every single person an explanation of what everything was about.

LARRY CRANE: His lyrics are parables and observations. The biggest mistake people make is assuming his songs are all confessional. It's his own life, but it's a lot of allegory. You see recurring characters in his songs.
This ran parallel to an excerpt from Clinton Heylin's biography of Van Morrison, Can You Feel the Silence?, which analyzed the Irishman's approach to songwriting:
Morrison has always fiercely resisted autobiographical interpretations of his songs, often in the face of indubitable evidence ... And yet it seems quite inconceivable that such a young, inexperienced writer could construct such an internally consistent universe, and place at its centre a girl perfectly suited to her surroundings, save from personal experience.
Along with Astral Weeks, Smith's self-titled release is among my favorite 20 or so albums of all time.

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