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Elliott Smith Hardcover – November 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; Har/Com edition (November 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811857999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811857994
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Significant Seven, December 2007: Laden with all kinds of PostSecret-era ephemera, as well as pages and pages of outtakes from DeWilde's photo shoots with Smith and fascinating discussions between the author and Smith's contemporaries, Elliott Smith is a stunning example of how a tribute book should be made. DeWilde's photography is stark and intimate but never probing, and what comes across is as real a portrait of Elliott Smith as any fan may ever see. Thumbing through the book I was often reminded of a reluctant child, standing quietly yet somehow furiously, waiting for the scrutiny he's suffering to end--it's the same kind of sweet, sublimated emotion that makes his songs (for me, anyway) so powerfully good. That's the beauty of this book: it shows you the artist that you want to see, yet protects Smith from the kind of rueful sentiment one might expect to be lurking here. (P.S. The bonus CD featuring Smith's cover of "All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down" is worth the price of admission alone.) --Anne Bartholomew

About the Author

Autumn de Wilde directed Elliott's video for "Son of Sam" and created the packaging for his album Figure 8; the cover image of him in front of a wall in L.A. led to the site becoming a spontaneous memorial for the singer after his death. She has also worked with Spoon, Death Cab for Cutie, the Raconteurs, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jenny Lewis, Fiona Apple, and others. She lives in Los Angeles.

Beck Hansen has collaborated with de Wilde for many years, most recently on photographs and videos for his album The Information.

Chris Walla is a guitarist for the band Death Cab for Cutie and has worked as a producer with numerous bands.

Customer Reviews

Great layout with many high quality photos.
C. Johnson
More intriguing are the surprising sides of Elliott, such as his humor and talent for pratfalls, and his love of many genres of music.
Breezer
The interviewing aspect and Autumn's pictures are what make this book so very intimate to me.
Joseph C. Derrick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Beth on November 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Don't get me wrong, the pictures are great in this book. It's some of the interviews that are somewhat frustrating to me. The intro is basically a conversation Beck and Chris have glorifying Autumn. I know this is a book with her photographs, but it made the book seem very tacky from the start.

I don't like that de Wilde chose to interview some people who didn't even know Elliott. I also felt that she related everything back to herself much too often. Several of her comments feel awkward and inappropriate, and I feel that they should have been edited out. For instance, there is one point in the book where she brings up another book she's working on in an interview (with Chris Walla I believe it was?). She says something about how it is her best work. Whether or not this is an attempt at humor, it is clumsy and trivial. Consequently, these conversational excursions prove incoherent and messy, subtracting from the overall focus of the book.

Another example of de Wilde focusing attention on herself is when she talks about how she could've had a romantic relationship with Elliott the first day she met him. Instead, she says she used sheer willpower and resisted the temptation. It seems like she doesn't think he could've refused her. The way she states her ideas sometimes suggests that she thinks very highly of herself.

Other than these points that I found irritating, the other interviews provided some good insights. I wish she had interviewed other people though (I would've preferred an interview with Elliott's parents or his brother). The book overlooks some major topics; only one sentence is dedicated to his stint in rehab while his self injury and previous flirtation with suicide are completely overlooked.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Robby Grossman on November 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a beauty. The photos speak for themselves, and if you're an Elliott Smith fan you've seen much of Autumn de Wilde's work over the years, even if you don't know it.

But what is most understated in this being a "photo book" is that it contains some of the most personal and heartfelt interviews ever conducted about Elliott. Autumn was great at capturing the contrast between the depth and severity of Elliott's depression, and the less-covered joy and happiness that Elliott so often shared with and brought to his friends. The Jon Brion interview was particularly touching, as he talked about Elliott both as a musician and a friend.

It doesn't provide a breadth of new information, but the first-hand accounts from those who knew Elliott best are worth reading for any fan. It was enjoyable to see how one man's genius touched so many people in different ways.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By B. Leach on December 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is not an easy book. The photos are diverse, from polaroids of Elliott goofing off to more polished stills that were used in the video for "Son of Sam" or cover art for Figure 8. More telling are the ones where deWilde dared and Elliott allowed her to get get closer, giving us the opportunity to be face to face and eye to eye with the man.

Tougher than looking into the blue glarestare of Elliott Smith is working through the interviews. I agree that this is for the passionate fan--this is not a rough sketch of his biography, nor does it bank on his tragic tug-of-wars with self-destruction. It does not skimp on details, but what you'll be learning is Elliott's fondness for clowns, his antics as his sister's personal hairdresser, what he requests he sent up on napkins nights Jon Brion was playing, the bar fights (yes, bar fights) he got into, his guilty pleasure artists and songs. This is the story of a person, not a persona. And as such, it relates directly back to the people talking and how he touched them. There are interviews with old friends, girlfriends, and roommates as well as one particularly moving conversation with his younger sister. These interviews, though adoring through sincere love of who he was and what he did and how that was important to everyone on a wide-spread but still entirely personal and individual scale, are not grandiose praises of the tortured artist. They are documents of memories and insightful, self-aware human reactions to somebody that we used to know: I hate you for leaving, I love you for being.

In the opening conversation between Beck and Chris Walla, they talk about the appeal of a series of photos because they tell a story. Not just the decisive moment, the perfect photo, but the collection.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. Kresling on June 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It's amazing how many people around Elliot Smith were using him (and continue to use him) to funnel attention to themselves, and Autumn de Wilde is no different. No wonder he was so confused. The parts of the interviews wherein Elliot Smith is mentioned are great; invariably, however, she interrupts and brings the conversation back to herself and her brief experiences with the man. If she would have just let Joanna Bolme talk, or one of the people who knew him well, I would have been ecstatic, but no.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Plummer VINE VOICE on February 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I thought this was a great tribute book to Elliott Smith. I liked the laid back vibe of the interviews, just a bunch of people getting together to celebrate the good times they shared with a great guy, not just a great musician. It gave the reader (and most likely fan) an intimate glimpse of the regular guy Smith was. If you were planning on picking this book up to get the dirt about his life, look somewhere else. They just briefly scratch the surface about his personal decline. It seems that he burned his bridges with almost all the interviewees before things got really bad. This book obviously wasn't written to beat him up. While they all seem to acknowlege that the guy was no saint, they wanted to get together to share the stories about the simple good qualities and quirks this guy had before things got out of hand for him. I thought the sycophantic foreword, an informal "spontaneous" powwow between Beck and Chris Walla talking about how great de Wilde is, was nauseating and tacky. Wait a minute, wasn't this book called Elliott Smith? Let me check... Oh yeah, it is. I also thought the interviews with Ben Gibbard and Chris Walla superfluous. Both didn't really have any personal encounters with Smith, but talked about how they were affected by his music and his passing from a fan's perspective. It felt like she just put them in there to flaunt her starpower. While I'm sure they were fans of Smith's music, I'm sure she could've found more devoted fans to get a better perspective of fan admiration. The photographs are great, from sweet and silly to haunting and gritty and surreal, I'll give her that. Plus, this book comes with a great treat, a five song disc with some live Smith performances. Thank you very much.
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