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Elliott Smith, the Myth and the Man, Memorialized

Elliott SmithAlmost three years after Elliott Smith died of allegedly self-inflicted stab wounds, his image is as powerful as ever. When Smith’s parents announced earlier this month that Outside In, a Portland agency for homeless kids, would soon become a beneficiary of the songwriter’s memorial fund, people paid attention. And rightfully so. Smith, who had planned to play a benefit for the not-for-profit organization but never had the chance, is a perfect mascot for any organization that puts those two uncomfortable words, “homeless” and “youth,” together. For the national audience that followed Smith from the Oscar-nominated “Miss Misery” to the beautiful “Waltz #2 (XO)” to Wes Anderson’s greatest soundtrack pick ever, “Needle in the Hay,” Smith was an idealized vision of the lost soul. In his mussed hair, tattered clothing and slumped shoulders our nation found a character who made the terms “homeless” and “youth” beautiful, the result of a kind kid with as many problems as he had songs.

Of course, Smith wasn’t a homeless youth. He just dressed like one. Still, he’s a good face for an organization trying to help a group of people that are at once in need and also feared by any regular Joe heading to Pioneer Square to see Superman.

That is the myth of Smith in action. On July 21, a much smaller memorial dedicated to the real Elliott Smith will be unveiled at Lincoln High School where Smith spent a few of his teen years. Whether anyone is interested in Smith the man remains to be seen, but at least now, in the sterile halls of his high school, people will see that Smith was a regular Joe too.

A man named Keith Brown is responsible for the memorial. He sent Local Cut the following notice:

I’m putting together a memorial for Elliott Smith at his alma mater. There will be an informal unveiling for it (it’s a bronze plaque to be put up permanently) on Friday, July 21st at 3pm (come through the west side doors of the building at 16th and Salmon street). I would like to invite any Elliott Smith fans, any at all, who would like to attend, so please let everybody know!

So, go, and bask in the banality of a high school where the greatest songwriter this city has ever known once was a regular kid.

Elliott Smith Memorial Fund: sweetadeline.net/?page_id=90

 

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