#784: 1994, Elliott Smith, Roman Candle

by George_East on October 25, 2013

Monday was the 10th anniversary of the death of, for me, the greatest singer songwriter of the 1990s: Elliott Smith.  The circumstances of his death remain controversial – officially suicide by  the extraordinary method of stabbing himself in the heart, but many of his fans do not accept this explanation, seeing the cause of his death as more sinister.  Whatever the truth of his death is, there is no doubt that he was deeply troubled, consuming voluminous amounts of drugs and with a history of previous suicide attempts.

His almost whispered vocals, stripped back lo fi production and lyrics which laid the darkest of things bare, are wholly distinctive.  This song is the title track and the very first song on his debut album.   It is thought to be a song about his step father, who was physically (and Elliott Smith suggested in some interviews) and sexually abusive to him.   On this reading the young Elliott Smith is the firework of the title just ready to explode, as he tries to protect himself and his mother from the hands of the abuser.

He could be cool and cruel to you and me
Knew we’d put up with anything
I want to hurt him
I want to give him pain
I’m a roman candle
My head is full of flames’

Powerful stuff.

The music world is a poorer place without him.  10 years gone.  RIP Elliott Smith.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

F.A.Q. September 13, 2014 at 12:48 am

due in no small part to producer Scott McMicken, What initially started as a one-off recording turned into an entire album. Mr. which ends up being what we call music. She loved it. Mother wrote songs for me to record. but perhaps that wouldn’t be the point. have had one of those difficult relationships with fans.” and “I’m like a child in the sand on the beach of the land of you, And I’m upset that I haven’t been listening to it longer.


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