Elliott Smith - “Needle in the Hay” 7”
Kill Rock Stars, 1995
Acquired: Kill Rock Stars Mailorder, New, 2003
I spent many hours of my teenage years analyzing “Needle in the Hay.” Like many kids my age, I discovered Elliott Smith via the wrist-cutting sequence of The Royal Tenenbaums. Because of that, and through mishearing something Wes Anderson said on the audio commentary, I thought Elliott Smith had killed himself. I found out he was still alive! And two weeks later (and two weeks after I’d acquired this 7”) he killed himself. I remember coming home from school to that. Sitting at the family computer in the living room and letting punknews.org break the heartbreaking news. That memory is firmly attached this this 7”. As is riding the KU campus bus heartbroken. And thinking lines like “Man, I’m glad I’m not addicted to heroin” but also being able to find the deep, dark humor in a line like “You oughta be proud that I’m getting good marks.” Smith is his generation’s Nick Drake (who also has a song on The Royal Tenenbaums soundtrack, committed suicide, and wrote the same sort of sad, soulful songs that get inside of you and never come out) and a national treasure bound to be discovered and rediscovered for decades, centuries, millennia.