Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing

( 3 )

Overview

Best known for his Oscar-nominated song "Miss Misery" from the Good Will Hunting soundtrack, Elliott Smith was catapulted to the status of indie rock star after performing at the 1997 Academy Awards. Some of his albums, XO and Either/Or among them, would become '90s classics, helping to define an understated aesthetic that owed as much to the melodic emphasis of The Beatles as it did to punk. In the afterglow of the success of "Miss Misery," Smith's fame grew—alongside his struggles with depression and substance ...

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Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing

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Overview

Best known for his Oscar-nominated song "Miss Misery" from the Good Will Hunting soundtrack, Elliott Smith was catapulted to the status of indie rock star after performing at the 1997 Academy Awards. Some of his albums, XO and Either/Or among them, would become '90s classics, helping to define an understated aesthetic that owed as much to the melodic emphasis of The Beatles as it did to punk. In the afterglow of the success of "Miss Misery," Smith's fame grew—alongside his struggles with depression and substance abuse. First relocating to Brooklyn, and then finally to L.A., he fell into a downward spiral evident to friends and fans alike, even as he continued to write such beautifully realized songs as "Waltz #2" (XO). Drawing on new interviews with those who knew and loved Smith, and focusing on the crucial interplay between Smith's life and music, Ben Nugent compellingly and sympathetically portrays an enormously gifted, yet troubled, artist.
 

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Editorial Reviews

Read Magazine
"Elliott Smith would've been pleased with the book...He would've liked Nugent's apparent knowledge of and focus on the music."
The Reader
"Lend[s] a layer of understanding hard to gain anywhere else...Nugent did his homework."
Publishers Weekly
This isn't the Hardy Boys-esque mystery starring tragic indie-rocker Elliott Smith that the title might suggest, but instead a rather skimpy bio timed to coincide with the first anniversary of his death. A prolific but troubled singer/songwriter, Smith inspired a legion of loyal fans and influenced a score of major artists, but for much of his career, he succeeded in flying under the mainstream radar. Then his song "Miss Misery" was featured in friend Gus Van Zandt's 1997 Good Will Hunting, and Smith, nominated for an Academy Award for best song, performed at the Oscars, clad in a white tux. But life didn't turn suddenly rosy; Smith struggled with drugs and depression, and in October 2003, he died of multiple stab wounds to the chest, an apparent suicide. In some respects, one has to feel for freelance writer Nugent, an avowed fan, for even attempting to write this book. Smith shied away from the media, leaving behind few interviews to draw on, and Smith's friends, family and acquaintances largely refuse to speak about him. While Nugent manages to patch together the major beats of Smith's life, he can offer little meaningful insight. Candlelight vigils commemorating Smith's death might drive sales at publication, but Smith's fans, as loyal as any in music, will be disappointed by this short and shallow biography. Agent, Amy Williams. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306814471
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 9/14/2005
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 786,364
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Benjamin Nugent is a former music and film reporter for Time magazine. He has written for New York Magazine and has appeared on CNN, Fox News, the BBC, and NPR. Like Elliott Smith, he has lived in Los Angeles, Portland, Oregon, and Amherst, Massachusetts. He now resides in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2007

    loved it

    for my psych class i had to pick out a biography and write an analysis on the person we chose. elliot was my first choice, and this book was amazing. though i had to read it for a paper, i found that i was drawn to it and had a very hard time to put it down. i agree that you can get the same information online, but if you really appreciate elliot's music and would like to get a different perspective of his life, i would definitely recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2007

    a roman candle

    any true elliott smith fan would deeply appreciate the work of nugent. as one of the last true american poets of the 20th and 21st century, elliott smith made a lasting imprint on alterative music. contrary to popular belief, most of this information could not truly be gathered elsewhere. because close friends and family members don't do interviews, most of the facts in the novel are that extracted from investigative work. anyone valuing the music elliott produced will see Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing as a final and well written tribute to a man who lived and died tragically. worth every penny.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2006

    Eh.

    I was hoping for a better read about Elliott Smith than this one. Alot of it is repetative or rambling. I practically forced myself to finish reading it. A person could read Elliott Smith interviews online and get the same amount of information. It wasn't worth the money.

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