When I was sixteen five years ago, I was struggling to get past my redo of junior year, and I was super lost. I kind of sucked that I was inept socially and was stuck in this school repeat. I had so much support, so it wasn’t the worst situation, my surroundings were ideal with a good family and a good school, but the world felt like it had given all it had to offer. People were only what they seemed to be on the outside, and my life was drawn out to be a linear checklist, and my teachers only reinforced this because they too, were influenced by this societal way of thinking. Of course, checklists and bucket lists work great for some people, but I just seem to be the opposite of that person. I don’t like to move on. I like to sit with a good song or a good short story and analyze it until it drives me insane and I reluctantly move on to the next thing. However, I didn’t realize this when I was younger, and I just started to believe I was some sort of lazy bum who couldn’t finish school in time.
Then one day during winter vacation, literally days after I had realized I could not continue at a particular private school I was attending, I heard Between the Bars on some random playlist and instantly fell in love with the chord progression (I often focus on the musical aspect of a song before the lyrical). But after a few days of listening, I noticed the lyrics, and I was like “by god, is this from the perspective of a beer can? Second person? Third person?” And I realized, you could really analyze the lyrics until it did drive you insane.
I went to the record shop the next day, ready to throw my money at any Elliott Smith album they had to offer, and Figure 8 was the first one that entered my pocket. I fell in love with it. I fell in love with the Beatles influences, the chord progressions, the style of each song, the lyrics. My parents were about to kill me because I would play it every time I sat in the car. And the whole deal is, ever since I bought that album, everything became more clear. The way Elliott viewed society and the human condition, it translated my life for me. As I bought each album, I got through junior year, to the next year, to the next year. But it wasn’t a checklist, it was me just finding out how I worked, and how I work outside of society.
And I’m sitting here at this wall, at the place where my life changed for the better, the place that I put into my car stereo on the way to school every morning. I’m in college now, but I’m not doing it for society, I’m doing it because I want to. The person I hoped to become is now in the same spot as the person I looked up to all these years.
You see, I forgot a pen when I got there, but I would have written this five paragraph monstrosity anyways so, this is my writing on your wall. Thank you, Elliott.