Elliott Smith R.I.P.

One of the greatest songwriters has left for a better world.

This page was originally a companion to a
"tribute" CD by fans at www.sweetaddy.com.
Everything is different now, but I just kept it the way it was written,
because those were magical moments I'll cherish forever.

It will stay as a tribute to the genius of a man
who inspired us all and meant so much in my life.

Jean-Luc, Oct 22nd, 2003

A Beatles song written by George Harrison and covered by Elliott
during one of his very last shows this year.
Its lyrics say more than I could express and they say it better,
especially through Elliott's harrowing performance.


Bottle Up And Explode

and Elliott Tribute thingies...

diary of an experimental collage - 16 voices on a song
to pay tribute to a great artist : Elliott Smith.

CHECK HERE to upload that song and a couple more tracks...

Well, how do you pay tribute to a songwriter ? You play his songs, of course !
Or, should I say, you slaughter them enthusiastically....

That's what happened last year, when Elliott Smith fans posting on the website "sweetaddy.com" united to put together a tribute CD, in which they took turns to cover songs written by the great songsmith.

It was truly wonderful to hear all these people, each from a different place, using different equipment to try and deliver their own interpretation of a favorite Elliott Smith song. Listening to the whole CD - to which I contributed with the help of the one true Elliott Smith devotee and living songbook : Woody - I wondered how it felt if you were Elliott Smith and heard an American, British or Dutch student, followed by French or Swedish people, all non-professionals, simply gathering virtually on disc to perform one of your songs.
I found the idea quite moving, as a matter of fact. It only occurred to me when I listened to the whole CD, not before, because we were all too busy putting our little covers together.

I thought it would be really awesome to have as many people as possible on... a single song !
And while I was at it, I thought it would be even better to gather people who would never have been heard on disc otherwise, either because they don't have access to any recording equipment or because they find the prospect of putting themselves in that situation a little intimidating.
That's how I came up with the idea of recording an instrumental track to which I would add all those voices from far away.

But what song to choose ? An upbeat one, no doubt. I chose one I don't recall Elliott singing on stage, one of the little gems on "XO" (my favourite Elliott album, with the self-titled one).
It's short, has interesting chord changes and I found it also interesting to sing on.

I knew I would have access to some video editing equipment for a limited time, with a mixing board, allowing multi-track editing. I recorded a rough guideline track - guitar, vocals and metronome - and turned it into an mp3 file to be sent. I wanted people to have it to sing along with, so that they would all be in sync and in tune, eventually.... I came up with a list of people whom I assumed would probably NOT be singing on the new tribute CD. I sent the mp3 file and suggested either recording with whatever software they had and send me the mp3 file or to wait until I called them on the phone and recorded their voice through the telephone speaker !

Each of them would only have one line to sing - which would prevent them from saying it was too hard to do !! ha ha ha ! I recorded a few people in this way around Christmas (I apologize to Heidi, in Poland, and Sarah, in Brooklyn, for making them sing to me over the phone with a sore throat...) A few people sent me audio files. It was really exciting to hear the voices one by one.

I then booked a small cheap studio to record the drums part (and realized then how strange and changing the time signature is, for that particular song... he he...)

Finally, I found myself with a deadline (the access to the editing facility) and a few voices were missing - either because that particular poster had not yet made up her mind or simply because the timing was a bit difficult around Christmas. That's why I ended up singing on it too, which I hadn't actually planned ! (My idea was to sing harmony vocals behind the voices, something I did anyway).

The middle-eighth (solo section) is replaced by voices saying "hi", and they actually include a couple people not singing elsewhere on the track. I also had fun adding a little "dramatizing" speaking voice (Katie) for a change, on one line. I find the effect quite interesting.

In the end, you have a really awkward but surreal track, with all those different voices, partly heard on the phone, singing on "Bottle Up". Editing them all was time-consuming - especially synching them onto the track !! - but really exciting to do. A "labour of love", as Nightswimmer puts it (always sweet.. ;) ).

I must have done 40 different mixes before it sounded audible, each audio source being so different from one another. I found it rather revealing to discover how people I assumed to be more shy actually delivered a really impressive performance - however limited in time. They know who they are. ;)

I'm not sure I could do the same thing again in the near future but I'm tempted to try again if there is another tribute CD next year...

And now, there's a double-CD full of Elliott Smith covers on its way, thanks to the efforts of Mike McCusker, of Manchester, England, the man who organized the previous tribute CD and spent countless hours - well, days, weeks, actually - putting it all together.! Hurrah for the McCuskers, who, as Woody puts it, are" jolly good fellows" !! (click on thumbnail to discover Mike's exclusive "sweetadeline" T-Shirt !)


Another, DOUBLE CD tribute CD was made!
(we must find a way to make tracks available for download later)

It's a lovely double CD box, and here is the front cover. Click on it to see a bigger size.

Katie B did the original collage of Elliott pix, and the incredible thing is, she did it all manually !! No Photoshop hocus-pocus ! I only did the rest afterwards. The same goes for the inlays, only this time she did a collage of.... pictures of sweetaddy posters ! A talented girl, she is.

Click on this image to see the the tracklist (and actually the full back cover).

Have I mentioned the fact that the new tribute CD is dedicated to Erin and Wallace ?
(Sweetaddy parents of the year). Their cover for the tribute CD is HERE

At the time I was doing the covers, I didn't know we would have a little baby Rowan... Well, it's dedicated to her too !

More collaborations ! Hurrah !

xo - Jean-Luc

Paris, France - January 21st, 2002 - updated Nov., 2002


(with the lyrics and the list of who sings what) :

The mp3 file (3 Mb) :


Woody (Philippe Vité) is one of the moderators at sweetaddy.com.
He must have played every single existing Elliott Smith tune and he contributes
to sweetadeline.net with tablatures and lots of advice on how to play this or that.

To my surprise, I discovered last year that he lives in the neighbouring Paris district.

And, last but not least, he has a webcam... he he he... ;)

(Woody is the cute guy appearing in the front - I'm the goofey one with the guitar... )

click on thumbnail to... see and hear...

I know he might be a little cross with me for doing this, but I can't help it...

Philippe recorded an incredible cover of "Amanda Cecilia", but wouldn't let it appear on the tribute CD, because he thought it wasn't as good as he had expected (how better could it be ??).
Anyway... we thought we should do a hiddent track of it, but... maybe he would have freaked out !

So, here it is, lucky people, for you to download :

Woody's cover !

And now, for a little bit of self-indulgence...
here is one of several Elliott Smith covers I recorded last year,
this time only guitars and vocals (2.3 Mb):


... and here is another track from the new tribute CDs !

I used to have a few mp3 files here, but my server is too full and
I had to remove them, sadly...
I hope someone will be able to find spare space to put ALL the tracks, so that
everyone would be able to hear the tribute !

In the meantime, here is one I selected because it is an unreleased Elliott song
(due for the new album ?) and also because I think Bradley did a wonderful job with it :

A passing feeling - Bradley


Created by Nils, it is a must.

Click on this and... bon voyage chez Monsieur Elliott Smith !

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