My favorite Elliott Smith song is the first Elliott Smith song I ever heard: “Say Yes.” It’s one of his most famous, but it’s always the one I’ve felt the most attached to. There’s this sweet, simple, and earnest feeling to it–a feeling of being content, even with the troubling lyrics. It feels like an acceptance of how life is pretty consistently a slog through the bleak, but still a focus on the little moments of good. It’s a song that’s humanistic and optimistic but still realistic. It’s frank and direct and honest, in true Elliott Smith fashion.
What I love about the podcast My Favourite Elliott Smith Song is that it, too, is all of these things: it’s earnest, it’s humanistic, it’s simple, and it’s a little bleak–but also hopeful:
The premise of this podcast is very simple – in each episode, we speak to a famous fan of Elliott Smith’s to discuss their favourite song of his and how they got into his music.
It may sound like I’m over-analyzing this simple podcast that rarely lasts fifteen minutes, but such is the effect of talking about Elliott Smith. The artist, whose career lasted from 1991 to his suicide in 2003, wrote music that truly lasts with his listeners and connects them. His work has impacted artists across different mediums still today, and My Favourite Elliott Smith Song understands how much that impact can shape an artist’s work.
In such, My Favorite Elliott Smith Song is an interview show about exactly what its title suggests, but it’s also an interview show about how important pieces of media shape creators. Each guest interviewed explains what their favorite song is and why, often digging deep into Smith’s lyrics and why they remain so meaningful to the artist. The artists also talk about how Smith’s work shaped their own art–and while guests like musician Amanda Palmer have interesting takes on how Smith’s music shaped their own music, I was especially taken by the interview with animator Craig Bartlett, creator of Hey Arnold. Hearing how he took a Smith song and adapted into a comic, mixing it with his own (sometimes flawed) analysis was one of my favorite things from any episode.
It’s true that My Favourite Elliott Smith Song may only initially appeal to Elliott Smith fans, but it strikes me as equally accessible for people who are just interesting in the creative process and what inspires artists. Clips of the songs are played throughout the episode to help listeners connect what the interviewee is discussing with the song itself in a way that’s elegant and unobtrusive. The episodes also only last exactly as long as they need to. The aforementioned 15-ish minute length for each episode feels like it lasts long enough to get cozy with the song and the interviewee but not so long that it becomes navel-gazing. It’s a short, sweet treat of a podcast that knows its simplicity is one of its core assets.
You can listen to My Favourite Elliott Smith Song on the podcast’s website or any major podcatcher.