Music Lists

Happy Birthday, Elliott Smith: The Indie Rock Legend's 10 Best Songs

The singer-songwriter would have been 51 today.

JJ Gonson

Today, August 6, 2020, Elliott Smith would have turned 51 years old.

Smith was born in Omaha, Nebraska, raised in north Texas, and spent a good portion of his life in Portland, Oregon before settling in Los Angeles. Before his sudden and mysterious death in 2003, the prolific singer-songwriter released five studio albums of poignant, rootsy indie rock, with his sixth studio album and a compilation of rarities being released posthumously. He became known for his dismal lyrics—often referencing his mental health and substance abuse habits—and his distinctively whispery vocals, which he often double-tracked to create an eerie, textured ambiance.

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It can be exhausting just to wake up every day, and bad news has been impossible to avoid recently.

The news cycle for the last year has been an endless slog of anxiety-inducing headlines. From COVID-19 debilitating the country more and more each day to the collapse of capitalism to the rampant racism and misogyny continuing to pollute the very fabric of social order, it can all feel somewhat hopeless. But in the face of great tragedy, humanity continues to rise to the occasion behind the scenes; it just might not be headline-worthy.

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Music Lists

The Best Folk Albums to Help You Wallow in Sadness

Sometimes you just gotta spend the day deep in your feelings

The cycle of bad news remains endless, and the world feels relentlessly in free fall.

Dread and anxiety remain our closest acquaintances, and I can't remember the last time I drank for any reason other than "It's Tuesday." Lethargic, isolated, and unable to turn on our AC units without a minor surge of panic, it remains impossible not to wallow in what has become our fraught existence.

"I thought about my life and all its empty meaning," Nadia Reid softly sings over the strum of an electric guitar as her band swells up behind her. "There ain't nothing I can change about me now," Leif Vollebekk morbidly croons on "Apalachee Plain." "No, there ain't nothing I can change about me now."

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