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Tuesday 16 January 2024

Son Of Sam

I found a handful of CD singles recently, a bunch of releases from the early 2000s, nearly a quarter of a century ago now. CD singles were generally good value for money, often three or four songs/ tracks and retailing at under £3.00, sometimes under £2.00. Unlike a lot of vinyl, most have actually depreciated over the intervening years and are now listed on Discogs for pennies (or a few pounds by chancers on ebay). This one came out of the pile, a three song single by Elliott Smith released in 2000, taken from his album Figure 8. I haven't posted anything by Elliott Smith previously, something that surprises me a little- however I'm not sure that this is his best work, the XO and Either/ Or albums being the ones I tended to play back in the 90s. Son Of Sam was the second single from Figure 8, his fifth album and the last studio album released during his lifetime. 

Son Of Sam

According to Smith the song isn't about the serial killer of the same name but about creativity and destruction, two topics he was well qualified to write about. These were the pair of B-sides/ extra songs...

A Living Will

Figure 8

Elliott plays everything on these recordings, guitar, piano, organ, bass and drums as well as singing. Figure 8 is a cover of a song by jazz musician Bob Dorough and gave Elliott's album its name despite not appearing on it. The song is just Elliott's voice and some organ, over and done with in under two minutes. 

Elliott's breakthrough albums in the mid to late 90s, especially XO and Either/ Or, made him famous and brought him some rewards including an Oscar nomination but he was a troubled soul and unsuited to fame. He had issues with drink and drugs and mental health problems, plus a diagnosis of ADHD. He died in October 2003 aged 34 from two stab wounds to the chest, probably self inflicted. 

Alameda is from 1997's Either/ Or, a sparer sound than the songs from the Son Of Sam CD single above, just Elliott's acoustic guitar, multi- tracked vocals and some drums that sound like they're not an actual kit but some cardboard boxes in the corner of the room.


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