In case you haven’t seen it, check out this spectacular tribute to Elliott, including Mary Lou Lord recounting driving to SXSW with Elliott and performing on street corners.
And I completely agree with your assessment of her, hope we get some more music. Anything on it’s way MLL?
Though I would have said it differently, I agree with MLL’s sentiment. Calling this series “Worst to Best” is inaccurate, since it really is “The Author’s Least Favorite to Most Favorite”, and all of the comments in these threads respond in the same way. Elliott obviously put everything he had into every song he ever recorded. I’m sure he had his most favorite as well.
And I can also understand MLL’s reaction as a musician (and friend of Elliott’s) to some random writer feeling they have the credibility to describe anyone’s work as “worst.” It’s insulting and disrespectful to the artist.
But, what would Courtney look like today!
A slap on the wrist to you for failing to give credit to the non-profit Red Hot Organization for putting this album out. They continue to do great work, such as the “Dark Was The Night” compilation from a few years ago.
Add guitarist to your list of ways in which she’s underrated, and unique. I can’t think of anyone of comparable success who is fluent in as many styles, tunings and effects. Her guitar tech Joel Bernstein wrote a series of album songbooks with details on the gear and accurate tabs, and it’s fascinating if you are into that kind of thing.
Meh. Sounds like Enya.
Agree with every word here.
One of the weakest of these lists that Gum has put together, in my opinion. Very personal, and why start with all the “people hate U2″ stuff in a ranking of their albums?
I generally like to hear re-interpretations of songs I love, and I like Madonna, but this is a terrible cover of what might be the best song ever.
However, judging by the comments section on YouTube for videos of Elliott performing his music, he now has thousands and thousands of new fans that he didn’t have last week, and for that we thank you MDNA.
i believe that “The Rake’s Song” and “Shanty for the Arethusa” should be on this list because they were both referenced on “The Simpsons”.
Seriously, no “Architect”?
I’ll be curling up in a ball and crying for the rest of the day …
Having completed this massive task, you must have some free time on your hands, and seem to up to the task of taking on a Bevis Frond worst-to-best. Or, at least the ten best songs.
Hadn’t listened to “On The Beach” in a decade until this morning. A great choice, that one.
Really good job sorting all of this out.
I’ve enjoyed almost all of his sidetracks into non-rock forms. They either point out his depth as a singer (where he is underrated) or his genius as a songwriter. I think in fact he stayed too long in the rock form, as the bottom quarter of your list shows.
Thanks for calling out “Shipbuilding”, which was my gateway drug into Chet Baker.
And, as if his own output isn’t enough, let’s not forget that he produced the epic “Rum, Sodomy and the Lash” by The Pogues.
Likewise, “Watching The Detectives” wasn’t on the original “My Aim Is True” …
This is a great article about a very sad passing. In the mid-80′s it was the best venue in the world. I lived in NYC but went to Maxwell’s because they got the bands: REM, Husker Du, Feelies, Replacements, db’s, Dinosaur Jr ….
Really good article. As listeners, we’d like this band to remain on the shelf so that they don’t screw up our memories of them. But, with the possible exception of Rollins, none of these guys ever made a lot of money, so it’s hard to blame them for coming back.
I have tickets to the Replacements, who I last saw live in 1985, which I’m approaching with a deep mixture of dread and profound excitement. I think that there is some reason for hope: some reunion tours (see The Pixies) are actually pretty good.
Absolutely, a perfect record, and oddly enough a tough way to start a career since it’s nearly impossible to follow it up.
Another thing that people don’t talk enough about is how awesome her guitar chops are on this record. There are like 10 unmistakeable, original riffs. It’s hard to think of another debut album that has so many.
TPK got a raw deal on this site and others when it came out. I think it was the unexpected production, with the new-wavy keyboards.
But I’m with you on this. “Ladder Song” and “One For You, One For Me” are two of my favorite BE songs.
In a genre rich with brilliant depictions of every corner and color of depression, this album stands with the very best: Elliott Smith, Nick Drake, NIrvana, Joy Division.
By way of contrast, take a listen to how the story of John Walker Lindh (“Taliban Johnny”) was handled by the great Steve Earle:
Amanda may not be the best one to take it on, but Dzokhar’s story is fascinating, and will surely show up many, many more times.
Not going to pile on here. Many much more eloquent expressions above.
Not to be overlooked among their best songs is “So Far Around The Bend” from the “Dark Was The Night” compilation, and would be on my personal top 10.
It’s hard to argue with anything here, given the quality and volume of the catalog.
And I won’t, though I’m surprised to see nothing from either “Songs for Drella” (a collaboration, but aren’t they all) or “Magic and Loss”. I think both stand up to his best work.
And, in my list, I would have included “Halloween Parade” over “Dirty Boulevard” from the “New York” album; as raw, personal and emotional a song as anything he ever recorded, and a perfect screenshot of the height of the AIDS epidemic in NYC.
Just to give credit where it is due, the solo guitar on Mathew Sweet “Girlfriend” belongs to Robert Quine (if you are speaking of the song itself) or to Quine and Richard Lloyd if speaking about the album.
You totally deserved it.
Even after having listened to “NO!” something like, oh, six or seven hundred times while driving with my kids somewhere, I’d still say that several of the songs from that album deserve consideration for this list:
- Where do they make balloons?
- Four of two
- The house at the top of the tree
But, this particular list is daunting … my all time favorite song I only heard once, on “Dial-a-song”, it was only on there for one day, in 1986 or 1987 I think, and it was about the Mets …
And, FWIW, I was at what I believe was their first official show, at some kind of protest for squatters’ rights in Tompkins Square Park in NYC.
No, that was self-deprecating humor, an apparently overly oblique reference to the mundane things that I find in my possessions, to emphasize the forgotten gems that an artist like Sufjan finds among his.